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Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Bertha Centre

Student Social Venture Programme

The SSVP was established by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in response to the relative paucity of African teams at global social business plan competitions, and the lack of technical, financial and institutional support and sponsorship at their disposal.

By supporting social ventures in Africa, the SSVP aims to improve the participation and performance of these teams in international social business plan competitions such as the Global Social Venture Competition and the Hult Prize.

As part of the SSVP, high potential teams are provided with the necessary support with a view to connect ideas and business skills to produce more scalable and robust social ventures that have the ability to create significant social change in the global context.

The SSVP is supported by a number of local foundations, businesses and investors, namely, SAB Foundation, Bertha Foundation, and Edge Growth.

Previous Finalists

  1. Lakheni (2014) is a start up social enterprise which uses a mobile group buying application to harness the aggregated buying power of communities in order to give them access to discounted staple foods.
  2. Lumkani (2013) they won the People’s Choice award at the GSVC Final. Lumkani is a proactive early-warning heat detection system. It uses innovative technology to warn people of a fire before it grows to out of hand or spreads to neighbouring homes.
  3. The Reel Gardening Company (2012) is a biodegradable colour coded paper tape that encases organic fertiliser and seeds at the correct depth and distance apart. It is a convenient way to package seeds that ensures germination and reduces the amount of water used in the germination phase by 80%, encouraging food gardens at schools and homes across the world. Through the SSVP, Reel Gardening also reached the Global Finals of the 2013 Hult Prize which was a challenge set to solve the global food crisis by former US President Bill Clinton. The team presented at the Clinton Global Initiative in front of Prof Muhammad Yunus and others.

Key Steps in Applying to SSVP

Key steps and deadline for 2016 applications TBC


To qualify for the Competition, a proposed venture must:

  • The ventures should not be a wholly owned subsidiary of an existing entity.
  • Ventures must not have received more than $250 000 in funding and its lifetime revenues should not exceed $500 000 as of 31 December 2015.
  • Plan to be financially sustainable or profitable; whether it is for profit, non-profit or a hybrid business model, it must be self-sufficient on its earned revenue.
  • Be scalable. This criterion will be unique for each business plan. Scalability will take into account the potential for growth of the business (and how well both the financial and social goals can be scaled).
  • Have a quantifiable social and/or environmental bottom line incorporated into its mission and practices.
  • Submitted ventures must be less than two years old. (The start of the venture is marked by incorporation or first income whichever occurred first as at 31 December 2015.)

Team Eligibility

  • Each entrant team must include at least one current or recently graduated student (within two years from graduation) from any post-graduate higher education programme from any African university / institution. Team members must be African citizens.
  • Your team must include a graduate student (current or within two years of graduation as of 31 December 2015) from a masters-level or post-graduate higher education programme in any area of study in the world. This student must be actively involved in the venture (i.e. actively participating in development of the business or actively working in the business.)
  • Your team should include a statement describing the graduate students level of involvement.
  • The graduate student or recent graduate must be one of the team presenters and must be available to answer the judges questions regarding the business in the final two rounds of the competition.
  • Teams are strongly encouraged to include seasoned entrepreneurs with relevant skills and experience.

Executive Summary Instructions

The following documents should be submitted by no later than 30 November 2015:

    • Executive Summary (1 page) in PDF format
    • Team Resume Booklet in PDF format; each individual’s resume should not exceed one page in length
    • Use template provided on this link.

    To register, click here.

    Shortlisted teams will be notified by 16 December 2015 and invited to pitch their business plans before a panel of social entrepreneurship academics, SMME specialists, venture capital firms and angel investors. Through this process, a final list of teams will be selected to take part in the SSVP. 


    Eligible social ventures will also be put forward to participate in other international student competitions, such as the Global Social Venture Competition and the Hult Prize and will be sponsored if invited to these international competitions. 

    The top two eligible teams will be guaranteed a place at the Global Social Venture Competition regional round in London. Business plan preparation and presentation support will be provided by Edge Growth and Bertha Centre specialists.

    As part of the programme, high potential social venture teams will be provided with the necessary funding and support to develop their business skills to produce more scalable and robust social ventures that have the ability to create significant social change in the Africa and global context.  


    For more information contact Micah: / +27 060 655 6305.