Twelve SA non-profits to receive $2m from Google

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Mich Atagana, head of communications and public affairs at Google SA.
Mich Atagana, head of communications and public affairs at Google SA.

Twelve South African non-profits that are using tech to impact their communities will be given a share of $2 million (about R28.4 million) and guidance from Google to further their projects.

They are finalists in the Google Impact Challenge, and will each receive $125 000 (around R1.8 million).

Of the 12 finalists, four will be chosen to double their winnings. A panel of external judges, including Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Maps Maponyane and Ferial Haffajee, will choose three of the winners at a pitching event on 29 November, and the fourth finalist will be chosen by the public.

The competition opened in May and by the end of October had received 1 300 applications.

"The sheer amount of good that people want to do in South Africa is overwhelming," says Mich Atagana, head of communications and public affairs at Google SA.

Atagana says the process of choosing the final 12 was really tough. Googlers first went through the 1 300 submissions and decided who they though should go through. An outside agency was then brought in to check for bias and compliance. The number was then whittled down to 100, then to 43 (because the team could not decide on 30, as was the case in other countries where the challenge has taken place), and finally to the last 12.

The finalists were chosen based on how much impact their proposed projects would have on their local communities, and if they fit into one of's four key areas of focus: education, economic opportunity, inclusion and crisis response.

An Impact Challenge also took place this year in Nigeria and Kenya.

Over the next five years, there will be more opportunities for non-profits to apply for funding, as part of the commitment made to the continent last year by Google CEO Sundar Pichai to provide $20 million in funding to African non-profits.

The 12 finalists the public can vote for until 25 November are:

Corruption Watch: BUA MZANSI: An online interactive Web site to enhance public participation and transparency in policing. This tool seeks to enhance public participation and transparency in the South African policing sector by allowing the public to report incidents of police corruption, access information on the 1 100+ police stations in the country, and rate police stations based on their experience.

The MakerSpace Foundation: Offers tools, technology, training and a physical work space to enable people to make things that improve the world around them. The MakerSpace Foundation is extending its social innovation outreach with the Shintsha Umhlaba project and plans to open 200 more locations across Southern Africa.

The Youth Employment Service: A business-driven collaboration with government that offers a disruptive approach to SA's youth unemployment challenge. It aims to create a million workplace experiences for unemployed South African youth.

hearX Group: Part of Ears and Eyes for Education, it is an m-health-supported community-based programme, which helps detect sensory problems in children early. It aims to reach 10 000 children by April 2019 and plans to scale the model across SA.

Clothes to Good: Helps mothers of children with disabilities to find financial independence in a green eco-system via clothing recycling. The organisation asks organisations to collect clothing through their schools, businesses and communities. Then the less privileged (including people with disabilities) are paid to sort and bale the clothing, and help community entrepreneurs sell the clothing.

Quirky 30 NPC: Provides free training in technology skills that are most in demand in the marketplace today (coding, design, cloud and entrepreneurship).

Saide's African Storybook initiative: An offline app to create and publish illustrated digital African storybooks with young children. The project as a whole will address the shortage of easily accessible local language storybooks written with children to encourage them to learn to read and love to read.

RLabs Zlto Digital Platform: A mobile and blockchain platform that tracks and incentivises positive behaviour in the youth. Zlto enables youngsters to gain work experience through community work, which is then validated and stored in a work asset that can be used when applying for jobs.

Memeza Shout Crime Prevention: Brings safety to vulnerable people through a public community alarm system. Memeza's systems have proven to reduce sexual offences by 67% in Diepsloot, and its vision is aligned with the National Development Plan on Safety: "By 2030, people living in SA should have no fear of crime. Women, children and those who are vulnerable should feel protected."

mLab CodeUp!: Matches coders to community start-ups to build prototypes and gain practical work experience. The programme, run in Soweto, aims to employ 40 coders over a two-year period to work with 12 start-ups.

GreenFingers Mobile: A digital solution to enable small and emerging farmers to access the market, as well as create virtual profiles for farmers with education records and commercial transaction data that builds credibility.

Gradesmatch: A platform to serve as a comprehensive career guide, designed to map career data for learners, parents and teachers/mentors to help them make well-informed career decisions. Its main goal is to be the primary source of career guidance and financial aid to 125 million learners from 25 African countries by 2023.

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