Social innovation winter school in Stellenbosch

Participants of the very first Stellenbosch Social Innovation Winter School pictured at Amazink in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. PICTURE: LIZELLE LOTTER

The Ranyaka Community Transformation, in association with Stellenbosch Network, hosted the very first Stellenbosch Social Innovation Winter School from July 3 to 7.

The 25 attendees were comprised of community members, academics and those from non-profit organisations.

“Through a series of interactive work sessions, participants unpacked issues ranging from racial segregation, mental health, market access for local small-scale farmers, sustainability of the non-profit sector, creating opportunities for school drop-outs, the financial sustainability of female-led households, as well as ways in which to tackle youth unemployment,” said the NPO.

Participants were equipped with the tools needed to create their own social ventures that not only add social value, but also generate much-needed economic value for communities. They gained a deeper understanding of social problems and their root causes, identified opportunities for innovation, learned more about design thinking and human-centered design, as well as business models for social innovation.

Finally, the group also gained an overview of the scaling of social innovations as well as impact measurement. Besides offering the use of their space, Brandon Pascal from LaunchLab also facilitated a session on the Business Model Canvas, which was an eye opening experience for many.

Participant feedback was positive and insightful. A key lesson learnt was that there is a need for a shift of the assumption that non-profit organisations should not be business minded, but to be specific, that they should be equipped with skills that help ensure the organisations generate an income. Non-profits are typically mission-driven, but need to be able to be independent.

Participant Kevin Turner, from 1 Life, 1 World, 1 Future in Cape Town, said the school provided critical information on a range of valuable methodologies. “Probably the most important thing was the realisation this week that, no matter how inspired an idea might be, and how important it is to the visionary person themselves, it has to be communicated to others in a way that meets many needs. This requires clarity of thought, technical details that different listeners would need to hear, as well as passion and imagination, summarised in accessible language.”

Another lesson was that of understanding the importance of having the right team and collaborating in a way that allows all voices to be heard. “Collaboration and self-examination is the key to effect social change,” said Jana Vorster, another participant and student at Stellenbosch University.

Marli Goussard, Ranyaka Social Impact Strategist, said: “We are so immensely proud of all the participants who finished strong. People from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences chose to unite around a common purpose to change the realities of those who lack access. We hope that this was only the start of good things to come.

“We dream of spaces around South Africa, starting in Stellenbosch, that cater for Social Venture incubation, creating an enabling environment for social entrepreneurs to co-create a community of practice and attract the much- needed support and investment required to solve our most pressing social challenges.”

For more information or to be added to a mailing list for potential future events, please contact Marli Goussard at marli@ranyaka.co.za