Do you dream of changing the world? Meet our past Fix Scholars who have put those dreams into action over the past two years...
Supporting what's possible- including children with disabilities into early childhood development (ECD) programmes.
My vision is to create equal access to early learning and play opportunities for all children. I am an Occupational Therapist by profession and I have often witnessed the isolation and exclusion of children with disabilities from daily early childhood development (ECD) programmes. I believe that all children can develop optimally and therefore contribute positively towards growth in their societies later in life if they are given the chance to. Due to this belief I started creating a model that promotes inclusion in the ECD environment.
I recently began working with more children-focused organisations to develop their ECD programmes and ensure that they are inclusive of children with disabilities. I am grateful and very excited to be selected as part of the Fix Scholarship 2015 - my mission this year is to be able to monitor and evaluate my work ensuring impact is made, and to be able to expand my work into different areas.
As a university student in a previously disadvantaged university in South Africa, I got to understand the kind of challenges that students living with disabilities had to overcome to make it to university. Most of the students I met were from rural settings and though at tertiary level they were supported with relevant assistive devices, for many of them, it was the first time being exposed to such technologies.
People living with disabilities are in the minority and that wonderful policies and legislation to empower them and create a more inclusive society existed, but that sadly the implementation of such policies and legislation was not successful in all spheres. There is slogan around disability issues in South Africa that goes: “Nothing about us without us”. Having said that, the aim of Root ED Children is not to come in as an outsider and impose solutions to the special needs community without involving them, we believe in inclusive solutions for an inclusive society. We recognize that a child with special needs is an individual, who is part of a family and a community. We recognize that this individual deserves to:
- 1. Be independent by having access to Assistive devices,
- 2. Be accepted and not tolerated by the community and peers and
- 3. Receive high quality education by skilled Educators
And we have created programmes that do exactly that. Root ED Children offers inclusive education solutions in rural parts of inland South Africa.
I took a decision to register for the Social Entrepreneurship Program offered by the Gibs Business School because I saw it as a necessity to create a sustainable business model for Root ED Children as I do not want the organization to heavily rely on funding. I believe that the program will help me to sharpen my ideas and fine-tune my income producing ideas into ideas that can generate consistent income for the organization.
Vanessa von der Heyde
Recycable Waste: turning food waste back into food through composting or animal feed.
My passion is waste. For me, waste indicates one of the most fundamental sustainability issues of our time and is indicative of our consumer oriented lifestyles. We waste precious resources through the way we design our products and the way we design our systems. One of the many precious resources we waste is food. Ironically, a total of 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted annually while food security and hunger are becoming more prominent global issues.
There are many ways that this issues needs to be addressed, but one of the ways I am starting off is by focusing on communities that will feel the shock of these issues first - the poor. Informal settlements, for example, are not only more food insecure but also lack sustainable waste management services. I am therefore trying to combine the two issues by implementing a food waste separation programme, turning this food waste into something that has value, which in turn will have a direct benefit to these communities. The idea is not only to find alternative, more sustainable waste management services that improve living conditions, but also to turn food waste back into food through composting or animal feed. This is a drop in the ocean in the bigger picture, but it’s a start.
I am in the process of designing a business model with the aim of finding income generating activities that will make the project as financially independent from grants as possible. This is a huge challenge and I am not yet sure if it is completely possible, but that is the fun in being a social entrepreneur - searching for opportunities that create shared.
Early Childhood Education: building Early Childhood Learning Centres in impoverished areas.
I am a mother of a 7 year old boy.
He makes me believe in shooting stars, fairy tales and superheroes...which is what inspired me on my social venture, the 'Little Einsteins Resource Centre'.
Since my third year in University, I have always wanted to make a difference beyond my family unit, and my passion towards Early Childhood learning (particularly in impoverished communities) has led me to experience the best and worst of the Education system in South Africa. In 2014 I knew that I wanted to run an Early Learning Centre yet I needed to enhance my business skills and network with like-minded entrepreneurs to create such a business hybrid. I can thankfully say that the GIBS SEP course was the exact course that I needed to help me grow and run the 'Little Einstein's Resource Centre' as a sustainable enterprise. The centre is aimed at addressing the need for quality childcare in Phokeng, Rustenburg - South Africa. We Offer mobile toy libraries, teacher training, curriculum development and compliance with the Department of Social Development to pre-schools and Early Childhood Development centers in Phokeng. We are a small enterprise but continue to grow with the support of the Fix Scholarship.
Sanitation in Africa: providing affordable sanitary pads to assist in reducing absenteeism in South African schools.
In a nutshell I am a dynamic young woman with my finger on the pulse of South African youth.
I am a media personality, MC, motivational speaker and Honours graduate in Marketing Strategy. During my studies my interest and curiosity around issues of the female social development led me to my brand creation called, "Happy Day," which is aimed at providing affordable sanitary pads to assist in reducing absenteeism in South African schools.
As a woman the price of pads are ridiculous, women can't afford the prices or relate to the advertising. "Happy Days" is a high performance pad that is well priced. It is based on real insights from girls in Umlazi, Shallcross and Montclair which are very poor and crime targeted areas.
At Happy Days we hope to extend this academy to the whole of Africa and assign ambassadors in each country. This way we can create an international network of women that drive the sanitary pad academy and they create hope and dignity amongst all women who can not afford pads.
In all, this is a personal story; its started off withe thought of challenging norms and creating change.
Marissa van Vuuren
Investment in Africa: supporting social startups.
Before SEP I had been running a small marketing and events company. We focused on supporting small start up lifestyle enterprises in Cape Town, by creating market interactive events, where people could get to know the entrepreneurs behind the products, with the goal of stimulating local trade. After SEP I decided to learn more about the African market and Social Enterprises that serve it, completely captivated by the ideals and ideas around social enterprises and the solutions they bring to low, middle and even high income communities. I learnt that I needed to learn so much more and indulge myself into all that Africa is and has to offer, in this respect if I want to truly contribute to the industry. This decision guided me to learn more about impact investing as part of the Impact Business Leaders Fellowship. I am currently working for Devergy, a utilities company implementing micro grids in rural off-grid communities in Africa, based in Tanzania. Prior to this I volunteered with various NGO's who do community upliftment in South Africa.
Although I believe that my road as an entrepreneur is not finished at all, I do know that my road as a Social Entrepreneur is only beginning. I feel humble to say that I am part of one of the most beautiful and dynamic industries currently in the development world, and so incredibly great-full for people like Fix who support us along the way.
The Arts: supporting rural crafters in South Africa.
Nikki Robertson worked for years as a craft product developer – assisting both rural and urban crafters to transform their products for high end markets. After consulting for both government and corporate funded craft development programmes, she became despondent with the number of projects that failed to deliver a sustainable solution to the ongoing challenges faced by South African crafters – especially those in rural regions. She then went on to complete her Masters in Arts & Culture Management at the University of Witwatersrand, and used the opportunity to better understand the factors impeding the development of the craft sector.
An idea that emerged from her research was the possibility of a social enterprise model to assist rural crafters to access markets and generate demand-pull for their products. She decided to explore the idea further through the Social Enterprise Programme offered at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. Here Nikki was offered an opportunity to be interviewed for one of the first of Fix’s scholarships. The GIBS Social Enterprise Programme turned out to be the perfect platform to explore the feasibility of the social enterprise; and after completing the programme Nikki has decided to take steps to make the enterprise a reality.
During the programme Nikki conducted the Market Research component and this year she is working closely with a GIBS MBA syndicate group to develop the social enterprise business model. The opportunity to receive consulting services from the MBA’s was offered to all Social Enterprise Programme alumni by the GIBS Network of Social Entrepreneurs (NSE).
Nikki hopes to bring her vision of a social enterprise to support rural crafters to fruition. The enterprise will establish itself as a market intermediary between rural crafters and a young, hip, and socially conscious market of urban Y-Geners. To do so she aims to develop a brand of handmade accessories that is functional, appealing and affordable to this new generation of socially conscious consumers.
Whilst the traditional market for craft in South Africa has been for high-end home decor, Nikki aims to develop a brand that appeals to consumers at a practical level. The products will be user-friendly, affordable and sustainable. Best of all she’s already managed to secure the perfect brand ambassador in Fix Moeti!