Red Bull descended on Durban this week for another iteration of its global Amaphiko programme, which supports and nurtures emerging social entrepreneurs.
Founded in South Africa, Amaphiko (which means “wings” in isiZulu) selects 14 youngsters with amazing inventions, projects or innovations aimed at uplifting society. Kicking off with the eight-day Amaphiko Academy, they are exposed to mentors and experts to help them incubate their ideas and set them on a path to success. They are then given soft support for a further 18 months to help them along their journey.
Since 2014, the programme has been run in 15 countries, including Brazil and the US. A new programme is planned for Bradford in the UK next year. Global project leader Ian Calvert said they were there to “put the entrepreneurs back together”.
“Amaphiko puts a huge focus on the personal development of the entrepreneurs,” Calvert said.
The academy was hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Music House and the 1860 Heritage Centre, with the space set up for a week of talks, workshops, one-on-one sessions, presentations and mentorship.
“We bring in experts to make sure that their business models and impact measurements are sound. In this space, you won’t unlock funding and revenue unless you have a clear plan,” said Calvert.
Some of the other mentors were storyteller Gcina Mhlophe; Saray Khumalo, the first black woman to summit Mount Everest; entrepreneur DJ Zinhle; chief executive of Wonderbag Sarah Collins; and founder and chief executive of Overcoming Racism Matthew Kincaid.
Amaphiko also focuses on storytelling, as it believes social entrepreneurs can drive their brands with relatable and powerful stories.
“Red Bull is a brand that’s made itself famous through telling amazing stories. The idea was that, if we can create amazing content that originally made break dancing or skateboarding cool, why can’t we do that with social entrepreneurs? If we give them profiles and exposure on our channels and through external media, we can do that. We want to inspire a new generation where there’s no conflict between doing well and doing good,” said Calvert.
This year’s social entrepreneurs have innovations ranging from street lights that offer Wi-Fi, using nicotine-free tobacco to create renewable energy, and maths and science educational programmes to a chute that enables people to use the toilet without leaving their wheelchair and a programme that employs recovering drug addicts to make stoves and geysers.
The academy culminates in the Red Bull Amaphiko Festival today, with Nasty C as one of the performers.