Cape Town — Five finalists for the Social Entrepreneur Award for South Africa 2008 were announced on Wednesday at the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, in partnership with Ernst & Young, recognised the individuals for their innovative and sustainable approaches to tackling unemployment, education and health with significant social impact.
The Social Entrepreneur finalists recognised for 2008 include Jacob Lief and Malizole Banks Gwaxula, who founded the Ubuntu Education Fund in 1999 in Ibhayi, a township near Port Elizabeth, to help schools set up computer centres and libraries.
Second finalist is Shane Immelman, who through his social business, Lapdesk, has brought more than 300 000 ergonomically-designed portable school desks to schools across South Africa in just three years.
Third finalist is Charles Maisel, who creates sustainable organisations with market-based principles to tackle social challenges such as unemployment, housing and HIV and AIDS.
Fourth finalist Trevor Mulaudzi, is the creator of The Clean Shop, a company that conducts daily cleaning and hygiene services for hundreds of schools, universities, mines, supermarkets, petrol stations and others so that more than 40 000 people can benefit from clean ablution facilities and hygiene education.
The last finalist Patrick Schofield, revolutionised and formalised the informal wire and bead market, not only by growing the social business of the Streetwires Artists Collective and its craftsmen and craftswomen, but by lifting the status of these crafts into art forms giving it its true aesthetic and economic value. Hilde Schwab, Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, referred to the social entrepreneur finalists as a "vital and essential part of society" and noted that "while they have built profitable and sustainable institutions, their primary motivation is not profit maximisation.
"[Rather they have focussed on] maximising the benefit for society and the environment, often revolutionising entire industries or creating systemic change in the process." The finalists were announced a day after a meeting of the Africa Social Entrepreneurs, the first gathering of more than 100 social entrepreneurs and resource providers in Africa.
The gathering provided a unique platform for social entrepreneurs to interact with senior leaders of foundations, investment banks, private equity firms, corporations, media companies and academic institutions engaged in Africa. In addition, 16 leading social entrepreneurs from Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States are active participants in the sessions of the WEF, taking place in Cape Town from 4 to 6 June 2008. The primary focus of the social entrepreneurs is to influence and educate decision-makers on the continent to innovative pro-poor business models in various fields such as energy efficiencies, fair trade, health, disability, education, youth and rural development.
The winner of the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award for South Africa will be selected in November 2008 at the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Award ceremony
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was started by Klaus Schwab, Founder of the WEF, and his wife, Hilde.
Since its inception in 2000, the foundation has been searching for the world's leading social entrepreneurs, who implement innovative and pragmatic solutions to social problems by tackling the root causes and creating a social transformation. The current network of the Foundation spans 140 social entrepreneurs and their organisations from more than 40 countries.
A recent evaluation study showed that the budgets and the number of beneficiaries reached of the selected social entrepreneurs grew three times faster while part of the network. In one year alone, the Schwab Social Entrepreneurs raised close to $80 million as a direct result of the contacts and opportunities offered by the Foundation.
President Thabo Mbeki was in attendance at the opening plenary session of the WEF on Africa.