BEST NGO: Reach for a Dream Foundation
BEST RISING NGO: Play Africa
BEST SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR: Next Generation
BEST CORPORATE: Coca-Cola
What a night! What a wonderful bringing together of the best and the brightest in CSI. The inaugural South African CSI Legacy Awards, held last night at The Venue, Summit Place, Pretoria, had a wonderful warmth and ambience to it, created by a room full of dedicated professionals who have really gone all out in the past two years to solve huge social and economic challenges.
Well done to you all – and well done to each of our winners in turn.
Reach For A Dream has been making dreams come true for children fighting life-threatening illnesses in South Africa for 33 years. This usually means giving children physical experiences, such as spending time amongst wildlife or visiting a dream destination.
Covid, of course, changed everything, and physical experiences became an impossibility. Reach for a Dream won the category of Best NGO for their innovative use of technology to provide Virtual Reality experiences for children in hospitals.
Using the headsets, children are able to escape to a world where there is no pain, no needles and no treatment, where they swim with dolphins, walk through enchanted forests, and engage in many other exciting virtual experiences.
Reach for a Dream has built Dream Rooms in several hospitals, with many more in the pipeline. Through VR, hospitalised children develop a positive and hopeful outlook, which helps them fight their illness. Nurses find that they cope with their pain far better when using VR as a distraction, and parents can see their children laughing again after extended periods of pain and suffering.
With the lifting of Covid restrictions, the fulfilling of dreams in person has returned, but the VR experiences in hospitals are here to stay. We congratulate Reach for a Dream for its truly meaningful application of virtual reality, enabling brave children to experience joy and wonder in the midst of the struggles they face.
BEST RISING NGO
Play Africa has been empowering Africa’s children with 21st-century skills through interactive, science-based museums in public spaces since 2016. So far they have built ten pioneering exhibits and 36 replicable installations in low-resourced settings across Africa.
Play Africa won the category of Best Rising NGO for their innovative contribution to science education. Their installations catalyse learning in ways that delight and thrill, getting children and adults excited about science, technology, engineering and maths.
Their ‘I am a Scientist’ installation gives children live Q&As with local scientists in seven local languages; their ‘Dinosaur Dig’ focusses on palaeontology – the study of fossils, including dinosaurs; and their ‘Designing with Children’ is a free toolkit teaching children the principles of design thinking.
We congratulate Play Africa for its world-class approach to the learning of science outside of the classroom. Their installations bring families together over science, they demonstrate a deep understanding of how learning really occurs, and, best of all, they can be scaled up and replicated across the continent.
BEST SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR
Next Generation won the category of Best Social Entrepreneur for its innovative design of an impact assessment tool known as the Investment Impact Index. One of the greatest challenges facing funders and NGOs has always been the problem of how to measure impact.
Next Generation’s Investment Impact Index is a technology platform that measures the impact and return on investment of strategies, programmes and interventions. The platform digitises impact data, presenting it in visual format as an impact report.
The Index is a breakthrough for corporates and NGOs in Africa. For the first time, investors are able to consider the effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and feasibility of every intervention. In addition, the Index integrates stakeholder and beneficiary experiences, so that each party is able to view the impact of the intervention on all other parties.
The Index provides a way for social enterprises to prove the value of their work and the credibility and accountability of their programmes to donors.
The Index was developed over ten years and has been tested by over 1000 programmes across the continent. Use of the Index has been found to lead to an increase in funding, transparency and credibility and has allowed more money to be directed to high-impact and high-return-on-investment programmes and organisations.
We congratulate Next Generation on this innovative tool which has the potential to greatly elevate the quality of development work in Africa.
Coca-Cola already stands as a giant among funders, funding a number of programmes across the country, including its Schools Recycling Programme and Bizness in a Box, a widely acclaimed entrepreneurial support programme. However, it won the category of Best Corporate for Coke Ville, a comprehensive off-grid, solar-powered groundwater harvesting and treatment project that addresses the increasing water insecurity faced by communities across South Africa.
Demand for water in South Africa is set to increase by 30% in the next 28 years. Since the programme’s inception in 2020, Coke has built nine community-based water projects in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, providing over 100 million litres to over 15 000 households. In addition, over 500 water wheelers have been distributed to the elderly, child-headed families and persons living with disability.
We congratulate Coke for addressing a long-term issue that affects millions of people, and for making this essential commodity easily accessible to communities that are too often forgotten.
We received 94 submissions, which our adjudicators whittled down to 34 and our judges refined to 11. Making choices of this kind is never easy, and there were some close calls. Vodacom, Afrika Tikkun, Doctors without Borders, Dream Factory Foundation, South African Guide Dogs Association, Hlalefang Chess Club and Faded Black Innovations were all close contenders, and we sincerely hope that they – and many others – will enter the Awards next year, when they will form part of CSI Business Week.
Congratulations to you all, once again. Let’s keep challenging ourselves, collaborating, innovating and finding ever better ways to serve the very real needs of our country.