Total South Africa  Announces the Winners of the Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge

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The winners of the 2018-2019 Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge in South Africa were  presented with their awards at an official ceremony held on 5 March 2019 at Hyatt Regency Johannesburg.

The three winners are:

In first place, Nonhlanhla Phalama, Davinon Hydroponics:

Nonhlanhla Phalama

Davinon Hydroponics aims to establish 50x30m hydroponics farms in rural schools and orphanages across the country. This socially-focused project is based on a model where 30% of all profit is re-invested back into the schools where the hydroponics farms are set up. This will in turn enable the schools to improve their facilities and quality of education. This solar-based solution is targeted at rural communities where there is little or no access to electricity; and the re-use of water minimises water consumption in water-scarce areas. The Davinon Hydroponics project will also contribute towards sustainable employment by creating opportunities for low and semi-skilled individuals to be trained to operate the farms and supply produce to the surrounding communities and beyond.

2nd Place, Marnie Steyn, Feeding 1 Million People:

Marnie Steyn

Marnie plans to establish hydroponic home-based farms that can be set up to function in the back yard of any ordinary household. She aims to leverage on  her existing network of customers requiring organic food to create a viable demand base and educate home-based growers through online training and support. With Marnie’s “Feeding 1 Million People” solution, households  will be able to generate an average income of R3500 per month. This will go a long way in reducing the financial burden on grants and feeding programmes.


Kutlwano Ngwarati

3rd Place, Kutlwano Ngwarati, Boolyx:

Boolyx Edu-Tech is an online subscription platform for textbooks and academic publications which was established in response to the “Fees Must Fall” movement. Tertiary students can sign up on the platform for a small fee and read thousands of e-textbooks and other electronic academic material published by partner publishers. This solution seeks to make textbooks and academic publications both more affordable and accessible for all university students. The benefit to partner publishers is increased revenue through increased volumes.

These young entrepreneurs will collectively receive financial support of  R 900 000 to develop their project. They will also receive personalised support and coaching and a communications campaign to publicise their projects.

The winner of the Top Female Entrepreneur award, a new addition to the 2018-2019 Challenge to support women in business, also went to Nonhlanhla Phalama from Davinon Hydrophonics.

The 2018-2019 Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge, held simultaneously in 55 countries (37 of which are in Africa, 11 in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region, 4 in the Americas, and 3 in Europe) reaffirms Total’s commitment to social and economic development in host countries worldwide. By helping innovative young entrepreneurs to realize their projects, the Challenge strengthens the local social fabric.

The second Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge received nearly 50,000 entries, of which more than 15,000 were fully completed. In all, 825 finalists presented their projects to a jury of experts, with 165 winning prizes.

The first prize winner in each country will see their project presented to the international grand juries that will pick the six Grand Winners from all 55 countries.

About Total South Africa

Total South Africa manufactures and markets a range of petroleum products for the retail, commercial, agriculture and industrial markets. A portfolio of 530 service stations throughout the country is there to take care of your motoring needs and offer you convenience shopping at the same time.

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