The RE:SOLVE Challenge is a fast-paced four-month Design thinking challenge to unlock the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of South Africa to rebuild the country’s COVID-19 hit economy. It has provided local entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and tools to test their ideas in the market. Innovative solutions that were presented covered a number of critical sectors such as transport, hygiene, food security, education, medical care, retail and micro-enterprises.
The project is funded by the City of Cape Town and run by the Craft and Design Institute (CDI), a non-profit company with 20 years of success in developing creative people and small businesses. Facilitated by digital transformation practice dY/dX, the Challenge’s sponsors also include Uber, Red & Yellow and Smollan and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.
The Challenge, which launched in November 2020, saw just under 200 applicants from all walks of life, and 107 made it through to the first round. The programme provided a very practical deep dive into the importance of user research and tools, and methodologies to really understand the problem/s they are trying to solve for.
Ten innovative South African entrepreneurs were then selected in March 2021 for kickstart funding of up to R20 000 each for their big ideas, enabling them to fast-track early-stage development and take one step closer to having viable products in the market.
“The City of Cape Town is a proud funder of this programme. We are continuously looking for innovative ways of solving challenges that ultimately result in new ideas and products. The pandemic has increased the need for companies to pivot from their usual approaches and design innovative products and services. Developing new products and services will lead to scalable offerings whilst enhancing the competitiveness of our local products. Well done to all the participants and special congratulations to all the winners. We will continue working towards ensuring that Cape Town retains the status of the innovation hub of Africa,” said Alderman James Vos,Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, City of Cape Town.
“The impact of COVID-19 on South Africa has been well documented, in many ways laying bare the vulnerabilities that were already present. This programme and the way in which we supported the entrepreneurs has been designed to face up to this impact, and to bring forward bright ideas,” says Erica Elk, Group CEO at the CDI.
“The ten ideas funded represent the ingenuity of South Africans, showcasing that there are many great ideas at home that can re-look at old ways of doing things. Giving local entrepreneurs the right support, and an opportunity to fast-track their innovations toward market-readiness is going to be a big part of how we recover as a country and build resilience.”
Says Teri Kruger, RE:SOLVE Challenge finalist, of the experience: “The discussions and templates helped shape the ideas in a way that acknowledged the experience I bring to the party and led the journey towards a [service] that serves my business and others, profitably. Continually engaging in discussions of these ideas with the facilitators, potential investors and project contributors has helped me shape a service model that can be rapidly commercialised.”
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