SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2023 for young South Africans

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Application Deadline: 27 March 2023 at midday.

The Social Innovation Awards recognise entrepreneurs and social innovators who have developed innovative products, services, and processes that solve social problems. The programme supports businesses with prototypes and those who are in their early development stages.

SAB finds, support and scale social innovations – through challenge funding and tailored mentorship – which can directly and indirectly improve quality of life. We define social innovation as innovation that demonstrates a sustainable business model while solving a social problem, with a particular emphasis on innovation that benefits women, youth, people with disability or those in rural areas.


  • AWARDS CAN RANGE FROM R200 000 – R1 300 000 Along with business development support to assist with venture growth.
  • In addition to the prize money detailed above, the awardees are assessed on a case-by-case basis and placed on a tailored mentorship programme. This programme is flexible and adjusted to the needs of each awardee, as mutually agreed by both awardee and mentor.

Innovations are judged according to the following criteria:

  • Originality: How innovative is the solution, and is it a significantly new business model or production method?
  • Social impact: Can the innovation solve a serious social problem that affects the SAB Foundation target groups?
  • Viability: To what extent is the innovation or solution commercially viable, to ensure its sustainability?
  • Job creation: Is there potential for the creation of direct and indirect sustainable jobs currently or in the future?

THE SOCIAL INNOVATION AWARD is aimed at innovators/social entrepreneurs/institutions/social enterprises with prototypes or early stage businesses that can solve a social problem.

THE DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARD is aimed at innovators/social entrepreneurs/institutions/social enterprises whose innovations focus on providing solutions for people living with disabilities.

Eligibility Requirements

• If you have previously received assistance from the SAB Foundation through the Tholoana Enterprise Programme, you are not eligible to apply.
• The SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards are open to any innovation solution that offers a credible prospect of meeting a demonstrable social and/ or economic need evidenced by the SAB Foundation’s target low-income beneficiary groups (with a particular emphasis on innovation that benefits women, youth, people with disabilities and those in rural areas), as well as demonstrating potential as a sustainable businesses.
• Entries are welcomed from South African individuals, innovators, entrepreneurs, social enterprises and university departments. Entrants may enter as individuals on their own, or as members of a team, in which case one individual team leader shall complete the online application form.
• The innovation entered must be the original work of the applicant and a true innovation and/or a significant improvement on an existing technology, product, service, and production method or business model.
• Product innovation covers innovations in both goods and services, which can be divided into new or improved products. A new product has different characteristics and intended uses than existing products. It may use new technologies, knowledge and products or a combination of these. An improved product is an existing product whose performance is significantly increased; in terms of either increased output or a reduction in cost.
• Process innovation is the adaption or creation of improved ways to deliver a product or service. It could come from changes in knowledge, perception and understanding. For poverty reduction, process innovations can increase the level of service delivery to beneficiaries, or enable practitioners to reach previously untouched groups or individuals.
• Applications are open to all South African citizens, 18 years or older. All participants must submit a certified copy of their South African Identity Document with their online applications.
• The innovation/solution must have progressed past the “blue-sky” thinking stage: there must be some evidence of investment by the applicant. This means that applicants must be able to show proof that prior to applying, they have spent time and/or money developing the innovation: planning, developing and testing prototypes, market and industry research, developing a business plan.
• Please see the “Participation Rules” on the online application forms for Terms and Conditions.

How to Apply

Online applications open 17 February 2023 and close on 27 March 2023 at midday.
2. Read through this brochure to check if your organisation or idea would be a good fit for the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards based on its impact on at least one of the four focus areas (women, youth, people with disabilities or persons living in rural areas). 3. Select the correct programme you will be applying for: SOCIAL INNOVATION AWARD or THE DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARD
4. Read through the online application guidance document.
5. Complete the online application form. The link is available on the SAB Foundation website ( or click here to go through to the application page.
6. Make sure you complete and submit your application before the deadline.
7. Early submissions are strongly encouraged.
8. The SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards seek the best ideas to enhance the lives of previously disadvantaged South Africans. Specific consideration will be given during the judging process to the race, gender, age and disability status of applicants.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2023

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