Already successful in fifteen locations in 12 countries — including Johannesburg, São Paulo and Baltimore – the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy is a platform for social innovators, championing social entrepreneurs that drive positive change for their communities.
Since its inception, Amaphiko, [pronounced Ama-pi-coh], which means ‘wings’ in Zulu, has supported, developed and championed over 120 talented, emerging social entrepreneurs through its programmes over the past five years.
One of the programme’s most notable alumni is Malawian innovator William Kamkwamba who gained fame in his country in 2002 after building a wind turbine from scrap in his township to power multiple electrical appliances in his family’s house. In 2013, TIME magazine named Kamkwamba one of the “30 People Under 30 Changing The World” and his autobiography The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was adapted into a film earlier this year and is currently available on Netflix.
It gives me hope to say tomorrow can be a better thing.
Amaphiko is made up of sessions hosted by alumni like William as well as a number of workshops by reputable start-ups and thought-provoking business mentors and leaders. Attendees walk away with a new development of business skills, but they’re not the only ones who leave the programme motivated or inspired. After attending this year’s event in Durban, we returned to London with a new found hope for the future of ethical businesses.
This year, 14 social entrepreneurs were selected based on their work in sectors such as education, environment, health and wellness, employment and sustainability. Each person selected solidified that capitalism doesn’t have to be the core of a business, it’s about recognising a problem and coming up with a practical solution to help their community; the main goal is to find accessible ways to improve people’s general living standards.
Thulani Bono, one of this year’s academy attendees is the founder of Finishes of Nature Global, a company that makes platforms for the creation of green energy, organic food production and flushing toilets in rural areas for healthier, hygienic community environments.
Speaking at the Kwazulu Natal Music House during the academy he said: “It has been fantastic; the choice of people, attendees and speakers who have spent their time with us, is absolutely liberating, Amaphiko gives us hope, and that’s the currency we need to achieve.”
Nondumiso Sibya, the creator of environmental project Boombadotmobi from Johannesburg, said: “This week has been amazing, it gives me hope to say tomorrow can be a better thing.” Nondusimo continued to explain that her love for the environment inspired her to transform harsh and unhealthy living conditions caused by illegal dumping of rubbish into clean environments.
Although each selected member is only at the beginning of their business journey, as well as appearing on South Africa’s national news station SABC, they’re already capturing the attention of some of the country’s most notable figures. Portia Mavhungu, another one of Amaphiko’s selected social entrepreneurs this year, was recently addressed in South Africa’s President 2019 Youth Day speech.
“Portia Mavhungu invented a mechanism to assist people with disability to use the toilet with dignity.” Said President Cyril Ramaphosa. “This country’s young people are far from being the lost generation. They are seizing the future with both hands.”
While a quarter of South Africa’s population is unemployed, a programme like Amaphiko is not just inspiring, it’s necessary. With the help of the Academy, inspirational alumni Zakheni Ngubo founded educational platform Syafunda after recognising that 80% of learners in rural and township schools didn’t have access to textbooks. As an accessible education method, the company now serves 53,000 students and over 800 teachers and also offers a bursary scheme.
Red Bull’s Amaphiko is not only inspiring a new generation of thinkers and leaders, but it’s also offering those who’ve already discovered a solution, the wings to achieve them.
Red Bull Amaphiko Academy launches in the UK later this year.