Congratulations to the winners and finalists of Junior Innovators Competition 2018

   For the seventh year, Investec and Junior Achievement South Africa host Junior Innovators Competition

First prize goes to Kabelo Thato Nkonyane, from the National School of Arts in Johannesburg Gauteng, with an innovation for a Cashless Tuckshop Card. This allows
learners in school to convert their money into e-tokens that can be loaded onto the card and then they can use this card to make their purchases. The benefit of the product is that it could eliminate the use of cash at school.

In second place is Kehauhetswe Diamond Machaka,  from Kgakoa Secondary School, for his Lullaby Pillow, which will play lullabies to babies to help them sleep. This device comes with a remote control and the purpose is to help soothe a restless baby should the need arise.

Sibongakonke Zulu from Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School, also in Gauteng, came third for his Early Warning Headphones, aimed at keeping pedestrians safe. Since pedestrians often listening to music or take calls, using earphones, while walking, he came up with the idea of a warning sound to alert users of approaching vehicles.

Congratulations to our three winners, who were up against stiff competition. They will be receiving generous prizes from Investec in terms of funding towards their tertiary studies! We would also like to congratulate the 11 finalists and all 27 shortlisted contestants who came to Investec for the workshops and pitches. We are proud of all of you and are excited to see how you shape your destinies going into the future. Congratulations too to all the students who entered the competition and took the time to come up with innovative ideas and go through the detailed process of entering. You have proven you are entrepreneurially aware and that you look at the world through the lens of innovation and these skills could prove invaluable in the future.

For all the photos please click through to our Flickr album:

This annual four-day event motivates students to come up with innovative business ideas and high school students on JASA Enterprise and Academy Entrepreneurship programmes are eligible to enter. From the hundreds of entries received, 27 were shortlisted to attend two days of bootcamp style workshops. In these hands-on sessions, participants furthered their understanding of innovation and what it takes to go from a good idea to a successful business. They learned about marketing and costing, intellectual property rights and power pitching. Then, after a late night of final preparations, the candidates pitched to three panels of judges and 11 finalists were chosen for the final presentations. The three winners were announced at a gala dinner.

To see all the innovative ideas of this year, you can click here and to see the 2017 winners, click here. Throughout the week, the learners were assigned mentors to help refine their business ideas and this entailed some very late nights. We caught Programmes Coordinator Bonga Khumalo slacking off….

Well, no, actually he was closing his eyes for a few minutes to recharge 😉

We managed to chat to JASA Programmes Coordinator Elias Sebola for a few minutes before the finalists were announced:

JASA facilitators from other provinces came to assist with mentoring on Junior Innovators, including Pontsho Kakuli, who has been a facilitator for JASA in the Free State for close on three years now.

Another facilitator who travelled to Johannesburg to assist is Salome Kgokolo, who comes from Limpopo.

Considering that today is International Teachers Day, it is fitting to thank all the JASA agents, facilitators, mentors and advisors in our network. Without their commitment , JASA would not be able to have long-lasting impact.

We would also like to say a very big thank you to all the inspiring people at our funder Investec who work incredibly hard to make this event life-changing and memorable for the participants.

JA Alumni Graduation: SABS Design Institute and Investec Accelerator Programme

Nine JA Alumni graduated from a pilot Accelerator Programme, through a partnership between SABS Design Institute and Investec 

Congratulations to the nine JA alumni who recently graduated from the pilot Accelerator Programme, made possible through a partnership between Investec and the SABS Design Institute. The nine participants attended JA programmes and then went on to become winners at Investec’s Junior Innovators Competition before being selected for this process.

The graduation ceremony took place at Investec’s offices in Sandton, Johannesburg on Tuesday 3 April. Graduates were joined by Investec, SABS Design Institute and JASA staff members. The Accelerator Programme provided an opportunity for the participants to refine their business ideas and develop 3D prototypes of their products, under the guidance of SABS Design Institute staff, over the course of a year. One of their mentors, an industrial designer at the SABS Design Institute, Sibusiso Mkhwanazi, explains the process.

We cannot disclose any of their exciting innovations until the products are patented but watch this space as we follow the progress of these entrepreneurs in the making. At the ceremony some participants shared their experiences on the programme. Kate Kekana, who went to Sandtonview Combined School in Alexandra and did a JASA Programme in 2013, listed the Ds of what she has learnt: “To be an entrepreneur requires devotion, determination and decisiveness. You need to have a dream and create something desirable to see your destiny.”

She describes the process of becoming an entrepreneur as starting something new and this involves taking a risk – not only financially but also psychologically – in order to focus on your goal. “We are game-changers and we want to change the world. We all have the courage to go out into the wilderness and stand in front of investors and persuade them to invest in our ideas. We need to be resilient to criticism. A wise man once said that knowing how to think empowers a person far beyond those who know what to think.”

Another graduate, Lebogang Mogale, also from Sandtonview, explained how thinking through her idea uncovered some complications she had not expected. This is common in the early phases of developing an idea and thus it is important to be flexible. It was through figuring out how to deal with complications that the product evolved into something better.

“Learning to accept criticism enables you to collaborate with other people and be creative and invent things together rather than just sticking to one idea. You need strategic relationships – these are the people who are going to be honest with you and urge you to do your best and push you to work hard. I was very shy when I started at JASA but not anymore. There is no place for it. Leave you shyness in your suitcase,” Mogale said.

Thandolwethu Magagule, who did a JASA programme at Suikerland Secondary School in Malelane, came up with many complicated ideas before he started to refine one idea and work on the prototype phase (and no, sorry we cannot disclose this one either, at least not until it is prototyped and patented). “When there are negative things you can change them into positive stones to build your bridge,” he said. “I am grateful for this programme, which will benefit me for a lifetime.”

Ashley Dhlamini started her entrepreneurial journey in a JASA programme at Dawnview High School in Germiston, Gauteng, in 2015. She introduced herself as an inventor and an economist in the making and explained how the idea she came up with for JIC has evolved through the Accelerator Programme to become a unique innovation that utilises existing technology in a new way. She remarked on how most of the group had developed their initial ideas in new directions but that this was good because it helped them to shape better products. The path to refinement may seem long but it really pays off.

“Pressure makes diamonds and look at me here. We spoke to strangers, people who didn’t believe in our ideas and people who were busy, but here we stand together. Nothing works better than simply an improved product,” she said.

Sibusiso Mkhwanazi, an industrial designer at the Design Institute who worked closely with the programme participants, gave a glimpse into the process. A product begins with an idea, in a sketch or in words on paper. This can be very rough at first but through development it can turn into a unique innovation. Once the idea is more refined then the next step is to create a computer-aided design (CAD) drawing from which a model can be printed in 3D. Having something solid is useful to show potential investors. In addition, a model forms the basis for creating a fully-fledged prototype. To do that involves the next step of accessing the suppliers, technology and engineering support needed.

Mkhwanazi and his colleague did a global search on the innovations being developed by the accelerator programme participants and, in some cases, they could not find a counterpart in the world. In one case, a similar product was in development in the US but that means the South African market is open for a similar product to be patented.

Investec and SABS are in discussion regarding how they can support these entrepreneurs on their journey further to continue with the rapid prototyping phase and find investment to take their products to market and to develop their businesses.

Setlogane Manchidi, Head of CSI at Investec, congratulated the graduates and urged them to realise their visions of making a mark in the world. In his address, SABS Design Institute Head Gavin Mageni emphasised the importance of entrepreneurship as a creator of opportunity in our current economic landscape, where jobs are scarce. He explained how innovation had made a resurgence in the past decades with the SABS Design Institute leading the way.

The Institute was founded in the Apartheid era as a reaction to sanctions, when imports into South Africa came to a halt. As a result, the Department of Trade and Industry were tasked with driving innovation internally since the country could not rely on sourcing from outside its borders.

Though the world was not supposed to do business with South Africa, curiously, exports out of South Africa were not restricted. During this time, around 700 innovations were developed and many of these were exported around the world. Then, after Apartheid ended, the focus shifted and innovation became neglected. However, over the past decades, innovation has once again became a priority and this accelerator programme is but one to create a resurgence of innovation, business and prosperity.

For more photos please see our Flickr album by clicking here.


Junior Innovators Competition 2017 winners announced

Junior Innovators Competition 2017 winners announced

In the future, will your post box be transformed into a drop box for your medicines, delivered by drones? Perhaps you will have an anti-slouch screen device that will alert you when you need to change position or take a break from your computer? Will tiled floors in areas where many people pass contain microchips and shock absorbers to harness the kinetic energy and generate electricity?

These are but some of the ideas presented by the 30 finalists at the 2017 Junior Innovators Competition (JIC), hosted annually by Investec since 2012.

Grade 11 learners were eligible to enter after completing the 20-week JA South Africa flagship Entrepreneurship Academy Programme or the 12-week Enterprise Programme. Both provide experiential learning where students develop a business from concept to production.

Of the 200 learners who submitted applications, 30 were chosen to attend the week-long boot-camp of business, marketing, innovation, presentation and life skills workshops at the Investec Sandton offices from 30 September to 6 October.

Throughout the week the learners were assigned a volunteer mentor to work with them in building a business case. After long days of seminars, students worked late into the night to fine-tune their presentations, with their dedicated mentors unwaveringly by their side. Then the final day of judging dawned, with three panels of judges listening to three groups of students. The judging criteria for the winners was based on their participation throughout the week in the workshops, social media votes and their presentations. The final ten were selected and they presented to a final panel of judges.

At last the winners were announced. In first place was Ashley Chipandu, from Lamula Jubilee Secondary School in Gauteng, for her concept of a blue-tooth earpiece that can be connected to the shoe of a visually-impaired person. Using electronic waves the sensor would be able to detect obstacles and alert the user so as to avoid bumping into them.

Nicole Ncube, from Tsosoloso Ya Afrika Secondary School in Gauteng, came second with her Urban Pill Distribution (UPAD), an app that schedules collection and notifies people to pick up medication at the clinic. Then people would no longer have to stand in long queues or run the risk of returning home without having been helped. This app would also ensure that people’s data does not get lost. Her plan for phase two is to introduce a panic button for elderly people and those with chronic illnesses.

Emmanuel Matamela of Sandtonview Combined School, also in Gauteng, took third prize for his idea of linking traffic spikes to traffic lights in areas of high congestion with high level of traffic accidents, which are often caused by violating the rules in regards to traffic lights.

Left to right: Setlogane Manchidi, CSI Head, Investec (judge), winner Ashley Chipandu, Nelly Mofokeng JA South Africa MD (judge), Nicole Ncube, second, Emmanuel Matamela, third, & Shaun Mallanana, Investec CSI (judge)

The winners were announced and celebrated at a gala dinner the evening of Thursday 5th October at the Investec Sandton offices. Respectively they won R60,000, R30,000 and R20,000 towards tertiary studies. Congratulations to the winning trio!

Setlogane Manchidi, the head of CSI at Investec was one of the judges. He commented: “In a country such as ours, mired in a whole host of social challenges, requires highly innovative solutions. Thus we ought to encourage youngsters who live in those contexts and environments to think very differently about those challenges. It is through programmes such as these that we inculcate not only the mindset of thinking entrepreneurially but acting entrepreneurially in pursuit of sustainable solutions to real everyday challenges.”

Contestants were judged on how well they provided clarity on the following areas:

The product/service/idea and what it does

The link between the identified problem and the solution

The target market

The needs of the identified target market and how the product is positioned to meet the needs of the identified target market

How the product is innovative

What differentiates the product, as compared to other products that meet similar needs

Marketing Strategy

How will the intended target market come into contact with the product


This includes research about the problem and product and market research on the viability of the product

Presentation skills

Passion and confidence in the product, as well as demonstrating resilience, risk taking, willingness to take feedback and make corrections

Inaugral Junior Innovators Competition win by Sifiso Motaung

Sifiso Motaung wins Junior Innovators Competition 2012

On Sunday, 30th September 2012, 45 learners from across South Africa made their way to Sandton, Johannesburg, to compete for the chance to become the first ever Junior Innovators winner. The learners had been selected from over 100 entries received. To enter, they were required to identify a problem in their community and develop a socially innovative solution to it. They also needed to write a letter of motivation and obtain a letter of recommendation from a community leader.

The competition, generously funded and supported by Investec, was held in Sandton, between 30th September and 3rd October 2012. During the four days, the finalists attended various workshops, specifically designed to help develop their concepts into full five minute business presentations. They were also lucky enough to attend talks from several high level corporate individuals and successful entrepreneurs. On the final day, the finalists were required to present their concepts to a panel of judges, who then selected the top ten. The presentations were all astounding and the innovations presented were inspiring! The top ten finalists were then required to present their concepts to another panel of judges, as well as their fellow contestants.

  The event culminated in a spectacular evening titled, Night of the Stars. The finalists all dressed up in their finest formalwear and were treated to exclusive red carpet treatment—literally! On arrival they were swarmed by “paparazzi” whilst trying to make their way down the elegant red carpet. They were treated to spectacular food and entertainment, by none other than DJ Dino Bravo.

First prize, of R60 000 towards his studies, was awarded to Sifiso Motaung from Sandtonview Combined School for his Urea Fertilizer concept, an organic fertilizer made from purified urine. Second prize of R20 000 went to Snethemba Gasa, from KZN, for her shopping packet carrying service and third prize of R10 000 went to Beacon Secondary School learner, Lindokuhle Sithole, for his brilliant Solar Mill concept!

The competition was a huge success and JASA hopes this will become an annual event! Here is a video: