Panellists Announced For Nation Builder Social Innovation Challenge

Nation Builder, together with the Stellenbosch University LaunchLab and the Mergon Group, has announced the judging panel for the inaugural Nation Builder Social Innovation Challenge.
This competition aims to identify and support South African social entrepreneurs with an opportunity to win a share of R150 000 seed capital. Entrepreneurs with a self-sustainable business idea that addresses a pressing social issue were invited to enter the Social Innovation Challenge. By the closing date on 11 May, a total of 174 video entries were received.
“We received more entries for this challenge than we have for any other innovation challenge, and we’ve worked with some pretty big global brands. This shows how South Africans from all walks of life want to join in and address the issues that we have,” said Brandon Paschal, Head of Incubation at the LaunchLab. “The most exciting thing is how sustainable these innovations can all be.  They’re solving problems and creating value that people are willing to part with cash for. This is how we will continue to build a flourishing nation.”
Ten finalists, to be announced end-May, will showcase their business ideas at the final pitching event on 13 June 2018. Three final winners will receive their portion of R150 000 seed capital, as well as business incubation support from LaunchLab.
The panellists responsible for choosing the winners are Teboho Mafodi, Darlene Menzies, Tshepo Ntamelle, Titi Sekhukhune, Almero Strauss and Shawn Theunissen.
These esteemed social innovation specialists, media, social development experts, and astute business leaders have all successfully walked the entrepreneurship journey.
Teboho Mafodi
Teboho is an award-winning businessman who has a passion for entrepreneurship, transformation, growing and financing of SME’s. He is the resident business expert for Y-FM, Business Day TV and CliffCentral. A brand influencer, green entrepreneur, property investor, consultant, brand builder and SME Growth Champion, Teboho runs a conglomerate company called TM Group with interests in consulting, infrastructure development, property development, enterprise development, and media production.
Darlene Menzies

Darlene is the Chief Executive Officer of Finfind. The World Economic Forum named Darlene Menzies one of 6 Top Female Tech Breakthrough Entrepreneurs in Africa for 2017. She is a technology innovator and serial entrepreneur with 15 years’ corporate IT experience with ABSA Bank and ICT outsource giant BCX.

Since leaving corporate employment in 2001, she has established several successful technology businesses and has first-hand experience in what it takes to start and grow a successful enterprise and understands the difficulties entrepreneurs have to overcome to do so.

Darlene was awarded a South Africa Innovation Entrepreneur Award and was a top five Finalist for SA ICT Person of the Year alongside the MDs of Microsoft and EOH. One of her Fintech solutions won the Country Award for Best Business Product at the 2013 World Summit Awards and a mobile innovation won Nokia’s Global Judges Choice Award (top 10 from 85 countries 1700 systems). She has also been identified by Zurich-based STARS Group as a future Global Leader.

Tshepo Ntamelle

Tshepo works for FNB Business and is part of the Business Transformation Unit. He is responsible for the FirstRand Group’s Enterprise & Supplier Development Initiatives and strategy. Prior to joining FNB, Tshepo was Head of Project Management at Edge Growth where he was responsible for the design and implementation of enterprise and supplier development strategies and solutions for a range of corporate clients. Tshepo holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Development Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, a Masters in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation from Wits Business School, and is currently studying towards a Masters in Development Finance through the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Titi Sekhukhune

Titi is the Private Equity Principal at Ethos Private Equity. She has been involved in Fund VI’s acquisition of AutoZone and Eazi and was part of the teams that successfully exited TiAuto and, most recently, Plumblink.

She currently serves on the boards of House of Busby, AutoZone and Eazi. Prior to joining Ethos, Titi worked as a transactor in the Corporate Finance team at Nedbank Capital (a division of Nedbank Limited) for five years. During her tenure there, she was involved in advising boards of companies on a wide array of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, disposals, capital raisings, and corporate restructurings.

Titi holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) in Accounting from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. She is also a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Almero Strauss

Almero is a director and has been an executive member of Mergon’s investment team since 2008. Mergon is a private investment group that was founded in 1980. From a single, start-up business Mergon has grown into a diversified investment portfolio with significant interests in companies in the technology, commercial property, financial services, fintech, renewable energy and logistics industries. Almero looks after and represents Mergon on the Boards of (an ASX listed property software company), Infotech (one of South Africa’s oldest IT companies), FREI (a digital and mobile virtual network enabler), Renewable Energy Holdings (the foremost independent developer and long-term investor in the hydropower sector in South Africa), and Mertech Marine (a world leader in the recovery, dismantling and recycling of out-of-service deep sea telecommunication cables).Starting out as an electronic engineer, Almero also obtained pre and postgraduate accountancy qualifications from the University of Cape Town before launching his career in strategy and management consulting. During his career Almero has worked with leading international firms Bain & Company and Deloitte in South Africa and the USA. Almero was also a founding member of Decipher Consulting, a South African niche consulting firm, where he was an executive director of the business.

Shawn Theunissen
Shawn is an executive and the head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Growthpoint Properties. In 2008 he founded Property Point, an Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme in the property industry, which focuses on the holistic development of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and the creation of market linkages within the private sector. In 2011, he founded Entrepreneurship To The Point, an information and leadership development programme for entrepreneurs which host monthly events.
He serves on the boards of Social Enterprise Academy Africa, ED Council of South Africa, Property Sector Charter Council and on the advisory committee for Nation Builder.
Shawn obtained his Master’s Degree in concept-making and people-centric innovation from 180 Academy in Denmark. The title of his thesis was “Innovation Strategies for economic development programmes” in which he explored the use of open innovation to drive small business improvement. He has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and has completed the Senior Executive Programme Africa at Harvard Business School.
The winner will also be speaking at the Nation Builder In Good Company Conference, hosted on 21 August 2018 at Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria. In Good Company 2018 will unveil how South African business is helping fix social problems with innovative social investment solutions.