The year may have delivered a few storms, but that did not get everybody down. Meet some of the innovators trying to make SA a better place:
She's declaring war on plastic
Tina Beyer was previously an IT professional, but a protracted job hunt led her to follow her dream of starting her own business.
She is now the force behind Ecoelephant, her own range of zero-waste alternatives to plastic, which includes reusable sandwich wraps made of beeswax, fabric bowl covers, bamboo toothbrushes and stainless steel toothbrushes.
Read more about her here.
Now anyone can own cattle
Giving a new meaning to the term "cash cow", founder Ntuthuko Shezi made waves when he founded Livestock Wealth, which allows investors to buy shares in cattle via a "crowdfarming" app.
Essentially, it connects investors with small-scale farmers, allowing groups of investors to buy a whole cow, or individuals to buy shares in a cow or calf. Investors, meanwhile, pay Livestock Wealth a monthly fee to cover insurance and farming costs. Read more about them here.
He's making egg-citing opportunities
Tebogo Mathe from Pretoria is the national winner of the 2019 SME Toolkit BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs.
Despite having few resources and little money, Mathe runs an egg distribution business that has created regular income for 23 people.
They help children read
LightSail Education won the AppsAfrica Innovation Award this year for Best Edtech Solution for their educational e-reader.
Lightsail, according to their website, is an adaptive digital curriculum-building platform. It's designed to push students, classes, schools and reading intervention programmes beyond their literacy goals.
Lightsail's library is free for all schools, and the interface is designed to make learners love reading more.
She's ending 'period poverty'
As a young girl, Mashela Mokgabudi didn't have sanitary care products. As an adult, this drove her to try to find a solution for other young girls facing 'period poverty'.
Now she's the driving force behind award-winning GentiShe recyclable menstrual cups – which she says are specifically designed for African women.
Your morning cuppa makes a difference
This award-winning coffee shop trains and employs deaf baristas to work as front-line staff in its stores. After a successful initial run in Harrington Street, Cape Town, the company announced expansion plans, Fin24 reported.
Visit I Love Coffee's website here.
They're helping small businesses cut down cash costs
Yoco and i-pay are both innovative fintech solutions that allow customers to avoid making cash payments. They are not affiliated, but they are both solving a critical problem.
Yoco facilitates card payments, while i-pay facilitates EFT transactions securely. This is crucial in South Africa, where high bank fees and the cost of cash transactions are impacting the country's poor, as well as hitting small business owners.
They cut legal costs for entrepreneurs
Legal Legends makes corporate law accessible, offering legal services to SMEs that otherwise would not be able to afford them.
With a user-friendly e-commerce platform, these award winners promise that users can purchase a product in just a minute.
If customers aren't sure where to start, they can take a "legal health check" online. There is no upfront payment or hourly rate.
They're making HIV diagnosis quick and accessible
Multi-award winners Incitech have developed a rapid HIV test with the goal of making testing both easier and more accurate.
The tests are so simple they can be used in a patient's home, according to Incitech, and are easy to dispose of safely.
He introduced a game-changer in mental health care
Psychologist Banetsi Mphunga set up a mobile clinic in Khayelitsha where he offered his services absolutely free.The clinic received extensive media coverage and was widely used.
Initially the clinic was funded by the South African College of Applied Psychology and later by Brain Working Recursive Therapy, but unfortunately Mphunga no longer has adequate funding to continue. However, he recently told Daily Maverick he hopes to re-open his clinic.
He's making LBGT+ tourists feel welcome
Flight attendant Vulthari Ndlovu's passion for travel led him to spot a gap in the tourism industry for LGBT+ tourists, Fin24 previously reported.
He and business partner Lipian Mtandabari founded Ntsako Travel Africa, which specialises in tours, wedding and event planning for LGBT+ tourists.
A focus on helping clients find places to feel both safe and welcome outside of city centres inspired the business, Ndlovu said.
This ex-entrepreneur is helping other SMEs succeed
Tashline Jooste noticed that a number of small businesses were failing because they were struggling with the fundamentals – now she uses her skills to help others.
With her background in finance, she is now CEO of The Innovator Trust, a programme in partnership with mobile operator Vodacom, which helps grow small black-owned businesses in the ICT sector.
In three years, over 100 businesses benefited, Fin24 reported.
* Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe