The difference that exposure, mentorship and investment can make to emerging entrepreneurs is invaluable. And it’s made all the more exciting when the young people are recognised for their brilliant idea that stands to make South Africa a better place. The Santam Safety Ideas Campaign seeks to reward exactly this kind of innovation, which is evident in the calibre of the inaugural campaign’s winners: Ntando Shezi and Ntsako Mgiba.

Awarded an incubation prize of R150 000, Shezi and Mgiba are the bright minds behind Jonga – a cost-effective security system for low income families.

Mgiba says, “This initiative is very close to our hearts because we have families in townships. We are thrilled and grateful to Santam and LaunchLab for believing in our idea and making it possible for us to start developing our product so that we can launch our pilot programme in various communities.”

Accessible and affordable, Jonga includes a sensor that gets mounted on the wall and detects intrusion, sending an alert to the homeowner via a linked smartphone app or an SMS notification. If no one is expected, the system alerts the neighbours, who can respond appropriately.

Judging Panel: Back row, from left to right: Nthabiseng Makgatho, Philip Marais, Asher Grevler, Nathan Van Rooyen, Ebrahim Asmal, Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe. Front row, far left: Ray-ann Sedres. Far right: Nontombi Marule. Winners in front center from left to right: Ntando Shezi, Ntsako Mgiba, Matthew Tait

Mgiba says he hopes the system will go the distance to empower communities to get connected and protected, “We don’t believe security should be a privilege of the few who can afford it. We just want all people to be safe and to make security accessible to everyone.”

This encapsulates what the Santam Safety Ideas Campaign is all about. Launched in July 2016, the initiative encourages people from all walks of life to submit smart, ingenious ideas that have the potential to keep South Africans safe. It’s run in collaboration with Launchlab: a network of university campus-based business incubators, and an initiative of Innovus, Stellenbosch University’s industry interaction and innovation company.

The campaign received over 150 entries, with the finalists all worthy contenders for the title. As the winners, Shezi and Mgiba had the opportunity to participate in an incubation process that saw their ideas developed into working prototypes and a potentially viable business venture.

Social entrepreneurship is just gaining ground in South Africa, especially for young people. It’s not always easy to get a foot in the door as a start-up, unless you have connections and capital. Team Jonga first pitched their idea at the University of Cape Town’s ‘idea auction’ called UCT Up-Starts. The initiative offers students the opportunity to become social entrepreneurs through a 20-week programme. Since receiving attention and investment at Up-Starts 2015, they have entered one competition after the other to raise funds for their product.

Winning the inaugural Santam Safety Ideas Campaign will hopefully see them develop an inspired idea into a sustainable business model that’ll play a pivotal role in making South Africa’s neighbourhoods safer.

For further information on Santam Safety Ideas, visit https://www.santam.co.za/safetyideas/.

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