#MandelaDay – 4 Startups Who Are Giving Back In Innovative Ways

Updated on 18 July 2017

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Many startup founders, no matter how small, are finding ways to give back, however, rather than contributing to just any charitable cause for a day, they are finding innovative ways, that ring true both to themselves and what they do in their business.

Joanne van der Walt, Sage Foundation programme manager for Africa, in a recent article highlighted the importance of businesses contributing meaningfully on a day like Mandela Day, and why contributing without a focus doesn’t make the impact you may think it does.

“For many charities, it’s a day when teams from well-meaning businesses arrive in a hurricane of matching T-shirts and boot-loads of supplies, get stuck in, and then leave as quickly as they arrived. Aside from having a freshly painted wall, the NPO is no better off than it was before they arrived – and more often than not, there’s a bit of a mess to clean up,” says van der Walt.

This Mandela Day, take inspiration from these 4 entrepreneurs who are contributing to causes in a way that is very much on brand.

KATLEGO MAPHAIYoco co-founder and CEO

Yoco is a point-of-sale app and card reader company which enables SMEs to accept card payments.

How They Are Giving Back: This Mandela Day, Yoco has partnered with social organisation management app, The Social Collective, to offer donation collection, volunteer hours tracking and rating service to organisations supporting NGOs.

The startup is helping to track impact and donations while enabling community engagements using their innovative technology.

“We are offering two options, both of which gives you access to Yoco’s point-of-sale device and app as well as the Business Portal, where you can manage your sales in real-time and get dynamic business insights, for Mandela Day this year, it means you will either be donating with your debit or credit card, or collecting donations as a partner in this campaign,” says Maphai.

The deal is offered to companies supporting NGOs for their staff volunteerism, small businesses who would be willing to welcome volunteers, beneficiary organisations who would like to collect donations via the Yoco card reader and make use of The Social Collective’s volunteer reporting management system.

CLAIRE REID, founder of Reel Gardening

The company manufactures innovative biodegradable seed strips which make gardening accessible to everyone.

How They Give Back: According to their website, Reel Gardening has implemented over 300 school and community gardening projects. These projects have undergone the Reel Gardening Training Programme, which aims to teach participants how to create sustainable, non-GMO vegetable gardens, according to the Reel Gardening website.

The programme teaches natural gardening methods to participants over a four month period, guiding them through every stage of the growing cycle from seed to harvest.

The business has also spent the last two years running their Train-The-Trainer programmes to upskill local community members around the country as well as focusing on empowering the under-privileged to start their own small home gardens.


Johannesburg-based Isazi, launched in 2012, is a data science company that is focused on solving big data problems using machine learning and optimization. They offer tailor-made solutions that can help businesses make sense of such data and incorporate it into models that improve their bottom lines.

What They Do To Give Back: In celebration of Mandela Day, the founders of Isazi Consulting will be teaching school children in Soweto about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and will be providing training on two of these subjects – Mathematics and Science. These are skills that South Africa continues to face a huge shortage in. The team will be doing this during school hours.



DJ FRESHfounder of Big Dawg Productions and Budds by DJ Fresh 

Not technically a startup, but worth a mention, DJ Fresh, real name Thato Sikwane, is a well known radio personality and music producer. He is also the founder of media production company, Big Dawg Productions, and has even released his own wireless earphone collection, Budds by DJ Fresh.

How He Is Giving Back: DJ Fresh is the perfect example of what happens when you combine a famous brand with a social issue that is close to the heart.

DJ Fresh is a long term supporter of charities and founded the DJ Fresh Annual Scholarship programme in partnership with Boston College and Rosebank College, which aims to provide tertiary scholarships to deserving students without financial means.

For Mandela Day, the programme will be awarding students who write the best 67-word motivation with a share of 67 bursaries to the value of

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