Social entrepreneur James Cook, was announced as the winner of Innovate Bellville 2.0, a pitching competition for his township co-working space and business accelerator Orenda.
Budding entrepreneurs presented their ideas at the final pitch session on Thursday June 7 at the Sanlam auditorium.
The competition organised by the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP) and Startup Hatchery, forms part of the GTP’s living lab approach to the regeneration of the Bellville CBD.
It was open to businesses with innovative ideas that could address issues affecting the Bellville urban centre.
The brief was broad: ideas could address any issues, from improving public transport, creating jobs, creating inclusive public spaces, addressing homelessness, improving health and well-being, managing waste, facilitating mobility, attracting and retaining investment and regenerating the Bellville urban centre.
Shared working spaces, eWaste recycling and an authentic African pop-up restaurant, were some of the ideas pitched. But Mr Cook’s idea of bringing Orenda’s concept of building co-working spaces and offering business acceleration services that give strategic advice, mentorship and training, caught the eye of the judges.
Mr Cook said entrepreneurship was key to solving the country’s unemployment problem, with 90% of new job opportunities expected to come from the small-business sector.
“If we equip entrepreneurs in Bellville with the support and resources they need, we can help to reduce the 70% failure rate most start-up businesses experience,” he said.
GTP CEO Warren Hewitt applauded the concept, saying it was desperately needed in Bellville.
He said the GTP was working on developing a 24-hour economy in Bellville, where people essentially worked, played and lived in the area.
Mr Hewitt said one of their main aims was to bring investment back into Bellville.
Mr Cook won R5 000 in cash, plus business incubation and mentorship support, including R10 000 worth of marketing and branding collateral and legal and intellectual property advice. In second place was MJ van Driel, from Mewaste, who has created a mobile museum using recycled, discarded mobile phones as educational science kits in schools, while recycling eWaste.
Thuthula Mngenela, from Ubuntu Co-working, who pitched a concept that would connect formal businesses with informal traders in Bellville, won R2 000 in cash. Both runners-up also won business incubation and mentorship packages.
Other teams who presented, were Xabiso Lombo, whose team developed the Guardian Gabriel panic button, an SMS-linked location-tracking device that notifies family members when a user is in danger; Lourentius van der Westhuizen, from Job Junction, a location-based app that matches casual job opportunities to individuals seeking work, and Thgandile Nododile and Siyavuya Gwanya, who developed Binwise, an incentivised waste management service using smart technology to track and process refuse load.
Tania Cunningham, chief digital and marketing officer for The Startup Hatchery, said the teams had stepped out of their comfort zones during this process.
“Their ideas have shown true innovation and we’re delighted with their contributions,” she said.
Mr Hewitt said it was a privilege to welcome innovation to the north with bright young minds bringing new ideas that could help the GTP’s plans to uplift and restore the Voortrekker Corridor.
“Innovate Bellville 2.0 is a component in our approach to offer Bellville as a test bed for new ideas that can help the CBD to grow and develop as a vibrant, prosperous, inclusive city region. Each idea presented could be applied in Bellville, and we’re delighted to offer the winners a chance to see their idea become reality.”
The finalists were chosen from over 30 applicants, who first submitted their ideas in a 30-second pitch on WhatsApp.