APPLICATIONS for the tenth annual SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards and fifth annual Disability Empowerment Awards are now open and local social innovators who are committed to addressing social issues are encouraged to apply. The winning innovation stands the chance of receiving up to R1.3 million in funding, as well as business development support. In the Eastern Cape the SAB Foundation has already provided over R35 million in grant funding and business support to 1 056 entrepreneurs to date. This has helped them grow their collective turnover from R17.5 million to over R29.5 million, an increase of 69%. They also employ a total of 1 293 people, of which 1 150 are new jobs.So far, the Eastern Cape has produced a number of winning social innovators, including last year’s Seed Grant Winner, Luleka Mkuzo, founder of Mobile Rural Technology Park. This mobile technology park is equipped with multiple laptops to give learners and teachers in rural communities access to technology, the internet, and basic computer skills. “Our innovation is focused on community development, upliftment, and creating change in rural communities. I am from a rural community and I saw first-hand how the lack of technological skills negatively influences exposure to good opportunities,” said Luleka. Through the awards, the SAB Foundation aims to empower innovative thinkers like Luleka to develop products and services, which help the country’s most vulnerable communities, while also empowering them as entrepreneurs. Prizes awarded range from R200 000- R1.3 million and are used as an investment in the innovation. In addition to the prize money, the winners also receive business development support. The Social Innovation Awards are aimed at innovators, social entrepreneurs, institutions and social enterprises with prototypes or early-stage businesses that can solve social problems. These products, services, business models and processes should directly address the challenges faced by low-income women, youth, people living with disabilities, or people living in rural areas.The Disability Empowerment Awards seek and award social enterprises, which have come up with innovative solutions, which improve access to the economy, and/or solutions for disabled people, while generating enough revenue to become sustainable over time. People with disabilities are some of the most marginalised members of society with a high unemployment rate.Online applications are now open and can be completed by visiting www.sabfoundation.co.za, before the closing date of 23 March 2020.