Innovation from the ACTIVATE! network

The one thing that connects Activators is their drive to contribute meaningfully towards addressing many of the challenges that face South Africa. Activators are inspired youth who want to see their ideas come alive and make a difference for themselves and those around them. It is this state of mind that makes one realise that the network is no stranger to innovate. Driving change is one of the pillars of public innovation.

The network is rich with ideas in various stages of development. Many of us are still reeling from the energy and inspiration of the recent ACTIVATE! Innovation Showcase held in Magaliesberg during January.

Here we explore a couple of ideas from within the ACTIVATE! and how these are changing the communities they are in.

What’s in a lunchbox?

Many of us have fond memories of carrying our lunchboxes to school and the excitement of finding out what was in them. The reality for many learners in Bafokeng Primary School in Gauteng is that they have to rely on the government-sponsored lunch to make it through their school day. For many, this may even be the only meal they have for the day. There is definitely a clear link between education and good nutrition. But why was Bafokeng Primary School experiencing a low turnout on the feeding scheme. And they couldn’t figure out why. Activator, Tebello Rampo, managed to connect the dots. Learners were ashamed of being seen collecting the free lunch even though they really needed it. That’s when she decided to work on the idea of a lunchbox that would be branded with the school for every learner in the school.

Rampo’s Lunchbox was one of the winning projects from the 2012 ACTIVATE! Innovation Showcase. Lunch Box was launched during June 2013.

Postbox hotspots

Every city in South Africa has its fair share of housing issues, the biggest being the continuing rise of informal settlements. By design such living spaces are “informal”, meaning many don’t have recognisable street names or numbers. This creates a challenge of connecting people with information. Enter Mpumi Mali’s idea – PVC postboxes that would suit this environment.

“I noticed that many people weren’t receiving their mail as most of it would end up lying on the street being kicked about by children”, says Mali.

During the process of getting this project on the ground, Mali and his partners made another realisation that with Wi-fi technology taking centre stage in cities and townships, these postboxes could contribute  towards making internet access easily distributed via collaboration with corporate and government agencies.

“Our ultimate goal is seeing this project touching every city and townships, contributing towards decreasing youth unemployment and being endorsed by people on the ground. We wish to also go beyond SA borders”, explains Mali.

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