Google challenges South Africans to build a better society

Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP, File)
Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP, File)

Google is challenging South Africans to make the country better as it launches a programme to improve communities.

The search and internet giant launched the Impact Challenge in South Africa, aimed at non-profit and social organisations to create economic opportunities in their communities.

Organisations have until July 4 to apply with their proposals.

Winners get access to Google.org funding and mentorship.

"The Challenge asks local innovators how they would make their community - and beyond - an even better place. The public and a panel of local judges vote for the ideas with the most potential, and Google.org pairs each winner with a package of strategic support, funding and Google volunteers," Google said in a statement.

First time in SA

Applications will be reviewed until November 5, after which there will be a public voting campaign, and a winner will be chosen on November 25.

As European personal data rules begin to bite, Google and other internet companies appear to have shifted focus to Africa as growth market.

The Impact Challenge was also launched in Kenya, and Google has already committed $20m for the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities in 88 countries.

While the programme was launched in 2013, this is the first time it has come to SA.

Previous winners have won €500 000 for portable libraries in France aimed at refugees; Hack the Hood won $500 000 for a programme to connect student with small businesses; Infoxchange was gifted with $500 000 to build a mobile directory of critical support services for homeless Australians.

There are eight judges in the South African Impact Challenge, including Basetsana Khumalo, Ferial Haffejee and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

The competition will be judged on four key criteria: Community impact, innovation, reach and feasibility.

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