In 2013, a group of young volunteers ran the first Innovate the Cape Innovation Challenge to encourage youth to solve challenges in their own communities. The finalists, who came from Khayelitsha, Philippi and Athlone, had some incredible ideas. These included a method to recycle polystyrene using oils from orange peels, a trolley scanner to help shoppers add their costs as they shop and a signage system for informal settlements to help emergency services find homes at night. The winners developed a mobile app called GoVarsity to help township learners apply to University and support them through their first year with a mentorship system.
Needless to say, we wanted to see more. We have run an annual challenge since 2013 which has empowered our local youth to develop community-changing solutions. Find out more about what our finalists have done here.
The big picture
The Innovate the Cape Innovation Challenge is part of the larger InChallenges movement, which grew out of the great success of the Innovate Salone challenge in Sierra Leone in 2012. InChallenges is an initiative of GMin, an NGO based in the US with strong links to professionals and students at MIT and Harvard.
The strength of InChallenges lies in being able to draw expertise from this international network, and in partnering with local champions to provide high-quality mentors and support for students. In addition to the financial support offered to the best ideas, the winners of the challenge also receive valuable exposure to opportunities at reputed institutions, including our own Innovate Fellowship program.
We believe that the solutions to South Africa’s challenges are best grown at home. We want to move from ‘Aid in Africa’, to ‘Made in Africa’.