Launch Pad: Apply for RLabs Innovation Incubator and Accelerator 2013

After an exciting launch last month RLabs is now accepting applications for the Innovation Incubator & Accelerator 2013 cycle. We are looking for 5 social innovators who would like to take their idea to market and change the world doing so. The venue for incubation will be at the RLabs offices in Bridgetown, Cape Town and starts February till October 2013.

If you want to apply, send your idea via our contact page (describe in less than 200 words) by 17 December 2012. We will invite the most promising teams/ideas to present their idea on the 10 January 2013 to our panel where our selection will take place.

We will include in our decision making the amount we will invest which normally up to $20,000 for % equity in your company. The investment is a facility that you will have access to over the 9 months with RLabs.

We provide you with a desk/open space that you can use while in the Incubator. During the 9 month cycle we expect you to attend our weekly workshops and mentorship meetings. We will also invite experts to do special guest talks with all the start-up founders. You are also encouraged to be part of the Silicon Cape Network to leverage the resources and events hosted by this network.

The highlight of the incubation cycle is the RLabs Launch Day (next year to be held on the 10th October 2013) where all the startups are required to demo and showcase what they’ve been working on since inception. After the launch day RLabs continue to give advice and support but the access to the invest facility will end.

What are we looking for in founders are simple. We look for the “Crazy ones” who is innovative, highly motivated and not scared to take the risks (Experience and design flair is always welcomed). The ideas (which we believe will change) should at a minimum fulfill the following 3 criteria:

1) Idea that makes a social impact and leveraging mobile and internet technologies
2) Idea that have some insight into how to sustain the social impact and business
3) Idea that can be scalable and replicable

The ideal company would have 2/3 team members but we will consider one-person ideas. If you have what it takes message us here and tell us why you believe you should be in the RLabs Innovation Incubator.



Rethinking Technology for Emerging Markets

Currently in India at the India School of Business and had the opportunity meeting an amazing group of Young Global Leaders from 20 countries where the discussions were about Innovations for Emerging Markets. Reason for being at the event was to speak on a panel about Rethinking Technology for Emerging Markets.

The ubiquity of technology brings an important shift for most businesses and governments, especially in emerging economies – simply because the stakes as well as the opportunities are so high. Some of the key lessons that I’ve learnt through my work with RLabs and Mxit Reach are:

– It has to be community driven and co-creation is important
– It needs to be contagious allowing for quick adoption
– Cost is a factor but not at the price of quality
– You find unlikely innovators. The communities you want to serve will disrupt your product and you should be agile to adapt appropriately.
– Sustainable and Scalable is key in emerging markets because the numbers an need are much higher than developed markets.
– An environment for re-invention
– External factors to consider such as lack of infrastructure
– One size does NOT fit all
– Difference between ownership and access
– Different and disruptive business models are required


The new journey with Mxit Reach

By now most people would be aware that I’ve joined Mxit to head up the social development and non-profit company. I’ve been asked by a number of people why I opted to join Mxit and take on this new role. Below I give 3 reasons why I believe Mxit is possibly the best place for me to be at in this part of my journey and the possibilities it presents in reconstructing communities:

1) Mxit is Africa’s largest Social Network with more than 50 Million registered users (10 Million+ active users) and the 9th largest Mobile Social Network in the world. With such a vast community to tap into it presents a good stepping stone to launch social change initiatives at scale

2) It is an African Solution that is ideal to solve African and emerging market problems. This excites me because it allows us to leapfrog other solutions with an already solid team at Mxit.

3) Mxit has an amazing team leading the Revolution, being part of this journey and opportunity to work with such amazing individuals is definitely an opportunity to learn as much as possible and to contribute to its success.


Three social entrepreneurship lessons gained in Morogoro

It was an early start to the day in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania but we were all looking forward visiting the rural town of Morogoro, located 190km from the city centre. Along with the TANZICT team and CEO of COSTECH Incubator we had a long 3 hour drive ahead and driving into beautiful Morogoro was an experience in itself. We were welcomed by Nate who is a passionate young man part of the Global Students Embassy programme and who currently runs a computer training facility in Morogoro.

As we arrived we were directed to a school (read TANZICT post about the experience)where more than 150 learners were waiting for us to discussion social innovation and entrepreneurship. Spending time with this amazing group of young people who are passionate about their communities and social change taught me THREE valuable Social Entrepreneurship lessons:

1) Adversity is the catalysts for innovation. In a community where the learners indicated that the main problems are water, electricity, infrastructure and connectivity were the key drivers for social innovation in the community.

2) Community-driven innovation initiatives are great opportunities to grow into social enterprises.
Some of the learners saw an opportunity to start a gardening project where they can grow produce that can possibly be sold to members of the local community.

3) Tension in communities do bring together a wide range of people who as a collective can address the problems in a sustainable way.
Through the GSE program it is amazing to see how a number of different stakeholders in Morogoro along with the learners and schools are coming together to make a difference in their communities.

The experience with the learners was nothing short of being special and their passion to learn about entrepreneurship with a social impact tells me that Morogoro, Tanzania has a bright future ahead with world-class leaders.