Zille - use smarts to help poor

2013-07-16 16:42

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Cape Town - Western Cape premier Helen Zille challenged innovators on Tuesday to come up with environmentally smart ways to improve the living conditions of the poor.

The aim of the Better Living Challenge project was to design "green" and alternative products for informal and subsidy housing, her spokesperson Zak Mbhele said.

Her government was hoping to capitalise on the creativity of individuals in the business, academic, and public sectors, as part of its 110% Green Campaign, which was announced in 2012 to link environmental goals with economic activities.

"Although there are no specific rewards or tangible incentives that are attached to taking part, the basic idea is that if a small to medium enterprise [SME] has some kind of innovative green economy innovation that provides housing or living solutions, then provincial government would help them network with business experts around enterprise development," Mbhele said.

The project would allow for the green product or service to be marketed and for the SME to make a return on investment.

Part of the challenge would entail creating eco-friendly homes on show.

"A wide range of products and new technologies will make up these homes and the challenge will also involve the first test of new eco-standards for building materials," Mbhele said.

Banks were invited to come up with different finance models for green housing models that would not normally qualify.

Zille unveiled the challenge at the Smart Innovation Open Forum in Cape Town.

"We sit on extraordinary potential and possibility in the Western Cape and South Africa. With the right policies we can promote job-creating growth and development and create replicable innovations that can be spread throughout the continent and beyond," she said at the event, according to the statement.

"In all of this, the role of the government is to make it easy to be an entrepreneur and not be an obstacle to innovation."

Details on the challenge would be made available in the next few months.

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