Creative Consulting & Development Works

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Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre: if i could… Host Organisation

10 December 2013

impumelelo LOGO


Creative Consulting & Development Works internship placement service, if i could…, supports South African NGOs (host organisations) by bringing talented international students and graduates to Cape Town as interns. Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre is one of our active host organisations, hosting a number of interns of the past few years.

The Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre was established in 1999 (formerly known as the Impumelelo Innovations Awards Trust). Impumelelo’s objective back then was to identify and unearth examples of best practice examples at local government level. Since 1999, Impumelelo has expanded and become the hub for Social Innovation in South Africa. Main programmes include: masterclass training; case study research; the documentation and publication of best practice; and the dissemination of good news through their media and advocacy programme.

The Impumelelo Social Innovation Awards ceremony is held every year to acknowledge the hard work of individuals and organisations that make it their mission to improve the lives of South Africans. The awards programme is independent based on rigorous evaluations.

Impumelelo Awards

The vision

Every year, the Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre applauds organisations that are doing exceptional work in their field by giving them a platform to teach other organisations how to be not just good, but excellent. They do this via the Annual Impumelelo Social Innovations Awards.

The process

Out of 80 shortlisted projects, only 33 were chosen as finalists and put through the grueling process of having to present their case to the panel of judges. As I took the elevator up to the 5th floor in, Constitution House Adderley Street, I could feel the tension trying to crack through the walls. I walked through the front door and down to the board room where the adjudications were being held and heard, “I don’t want to hear about the history, we know this, tell us the story, whose lives have you changed?” This was the voice of Rhoda Kadalie, the Executive Director of the Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre. Although her command of the room was nothing short of amazing, what grabbed my attention was the sound of rattled nerves permeating through the air that sounded like a rainfall of stones on metal tins.

Each finalist had to prepare an eight minute presentation on their organisation and motivate why they are worthy recipients of the award. These candidates hail from all over the country and their key focuses were all different. However, the one thing they have in common is that they are all passionate about positive transformation in South Africa. After each presentation, the panel of judges would ask a range of questions and candidates would have to succinctly respond. Often, despite their best intentions and well prepared presentations, the candidate’s rattled nerves would get the best of them. After their presentations, most finalists would not even stay to suss out their competition. The sense of relief that the presentation was over was so overwhelming that they darted straight to the front door for a speedy exit.

The result

Just under two months after the adjudications, the evening of the awards arrived. The location was the iconic Baxter theatre. A cosy little establishment in Rondebosch that boasts gigantic orange domes overarching its retro design and faced brick features. The auditorium was filled wall-to-wall and the entertainment was second to none. Opera singer Giotsemang Lehobye filled the air with sweet, evocative sounds and comedian Kurt Schoonraad had everyone bursting at the seams. Guest speakers included Professor Jonathan Jansen and Minister Derek Hanekom, who both gave sound advice and applauded each winner as they stepped up.

The awards were divided into four categories, including: The top Social Entrepreneur Award, The Platinum Award, The Gold Award and the Silver Award. In all the categories, more than one winner was allowed except for the top award.

And the top social entrepreneur award went to… Shanduka Black Umbrellas. The organisation aims to increase entrepreneurship amongst black-owned businesses in South Africa, through collaboration with partners in the private sector, government and civil society. Shanduka Black Umbrellas addresses the low levels of entrepreneurship and high failure rate of 100% black owned emerging businesses in South Africa. Shanduka Black Umbrellas was a project first conceived as Black Umbrellas by Cape Town social entrepreneurs Charles Maisel and Mark Frankel and proved to be highly effective in supporting SMMEs. The model has now been adopted by the Shanduka Foundation with the intention of growing the project and taking it countrywide.

A total of 22 awards were given to various organisations, all which are doing outstanding work in their respective fields.

Our award however, goes to the Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre, who seeks out organisations all over the country that make a difference in the private and public sector. Impumelelo looks for the business models that make sense, that are replicable and that are directly solution orientated – no frills, no fancies. So well done to the awards winners, but mostly, well done Impumelelo!

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