Startup Mzansi Foundation

Startup Mzansi Foundation: Changing the world through Innovation

South AfricaJohannesburg, South Africa
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Scaling strategies launched within the past 6 months:
Organizational Growth
Large Scale Partnerships
Organizing Conferences
Trainings, Consultation
Federations, Associations
Lobbying, Policy Change
Industry Standards (labels, certification, awards, etc.)
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Startup Mzansi Foundation is the answer to an increasingly bigger delay that’s threatening us in the evolution of the South African startup ecosystem. The Foundation is a Non profit Company supporting innovative youth entrepreneurship in the Country.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if youth-led startups with an infectious sense of possibility can continue to change the World?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

South Africa is facing a number of challenges at the present time. At the core of its problems is the growing alienation of youth unemployment. Research shows that there are more than 13 million people who are not employed in the formal sector of the South African economy, with a further 500 000 first-time job-seekers unable to find employment each year.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The solution lies in identifying the best-fit people to start and grow businesses. It is the job creation of those enterprises that is really going to make an impact on unemployment. Government, businesses and civil society need to work together to understand more about the policies and types of support that best enable the start-up and growth of youth-led enterprises. At the Startup Foundation, we believe that startups and entrepreneurs lead the way in creating innovative products that improve our lives and drive significant economic and social impact. A robust community of entrepreneurs – paired with resources, mentorship and technology – can be a rising tide that lifts all boats.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Khulekani is a potential entrepreneur. Though staying at Embonisweni, a rural area in the Mpumalnga Province in South Africa, he heard of the Startup Mzansi Movement on Radio. He goes to their website and the amazing support that the organisation offer, he then uses the Tollfree Startup Hotline to enquire about possibly becoming part of the Year of The Startup campaign in 2015. He is then assigned a mentor who'll work with him. He is then invited to participate in to the Startup Shack Incubator Program where he provided with the tools and inspiration to start his own business. Cleverly, he learns how to pitch his business model at the Startup Institute and then applies for a Startup Loan at the Startup Bank.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have already worked with 600 young entrepreneurs in the past month. 458 of those have already started with their businesses. We are now providing them with Mentoring and Advise through our partners.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

With the Startup Hotline, our Telephonic Mentorship & Advice Programme, about 500-1000 calls per month with pieces of advice will be made on a daily basis. We strive to set a social goal for South Africa that until 2020 we will annually: 1. Create 1,000 new jobs in startup companies in South Africa; 2. Connect at least 50 startup companies with the most important startup ecosystems in the world; 3. Create or attract at least 150 startup companies with global potential. By the year 2020, we would have activated 1 million youth entrepreneurs.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The Startup Foundation basically has 4 income streams: • Grantseeking • Social enterprise • Contributions • Gifts-in-kind Grant funding will the largest of our income streams and is available on either a “project” or “programme” basis. We are going to operate as a business working for change. Some of the services we will be offering will be subsidised by sponsorships and the startup ecosystem itself.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

South Africa already has a fairly developed entrepreneurship environment in many parts. Its development started 20 years ago, but was designed without considering that the entrepreneurship structure is made up of a very diverse group of companies: self-employed individuals, small companies, growing companies, big companies, social entrepreneurs, etc. All individuals who initiate a company and lead it are entrepreneurs, but there are great differences between them in regards to their ambitions, contribution to the development and their needs for various types of support.

Founding Story

As you may be aware South Africa has a very low rate of youth entrepreneurial activity. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report 2013, a quarter of young people in South Africa between the ages of 18 and 34 years old believe that they have the skills and knowledge to start a business and that there are good opportunities to exploit. With all this background, myself being an entrepreneur and having experienced the pains felt by many young people, I decided to lend a hand. In the past six months, I have been working on establishing The Startup Foundation here in South Africa to help tackle the problem. When I spoke to various people about the proposed initiative all of them agreed that it will create great impact.


Sandile Shabangu Amanda Coetze Nombuso Mkhonto
About You
Startup Mzansi Foundation
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

Startup Mzansi Foundation

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Organization Country

South Africa, GT, Johannesburg

Country where this project is creating social impact

South Africa

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government, National government, Customers, Other.

Awards: What awards or honors has your solution received, if any?

Total Startupper of the Year Finalist
Brightest Young Minds 2013
World Merit Top Young Entrepreneur 2011

Tell us about your partnerships

We are revolutionising the startup ecosystem in our country and thus our partners are mainly stakeholders who really want to change the lives of young people in the country, equipping them with the know-how, tools and expertise to become the masters of their own destiny. We believe that young people should also be treated as partners in their own development. Currently we are working on our partnership plan, to recruit partners by category of what we want to do. The Startup Foundation is an open platform than can be joined by different organisations and individuals with a statement of support. We also invite startup companies and successful entrepreneurs to join us, if they wish to contribute to the vision of an entrepreneurial and talent-friendly country.

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

We currently don't have sufficient funding to activate and run our planned programmes. We have knocked to various doors in the industry and many of them promised to come back to us. We had pitched our programmes to some institutions and two of those who had learnt that our organisation will create much needed impact tried to steal our ideas and run with them. Unfortunately they couldn't understand the dynamics behind these innovations and how to implement them. We are rigorously raising funds and signing up volunteers to help strengthen our muscles and create impact. We have since developed our very own website and launched our planned projects to the media so as to protect our ideas from being stolen.

How does your idea help young people create bright futures and improve opportunities for meaningful and long-term careers?

At a time when South Africa’s biggest issue is youth unemployment, businesses and government must work together to help young people develop an entrepreneurial mindset. That means fostering a culture which supports young people to take risks, set up businesses, create jobs and become masters of their own destiny. Whether it’s through finance, mentoring, incentives or training, we must all play our part so that this generation can achieve its full potential.

The Startup Foundation seeks to tell a new story about the role of young entrepreneurs in South Africa. Rather than viewing young people as ‘problems to be solved’, We believe that we need to recognize and support their role as innovative and creative thinkers. We need to engage them as partners in development, equipping them with the know-how and tools to impact their own lives and uplift their own communities.

We believe that entrepreneurs are the leading drivers of prosperity, jobs, and innovation. Without entrepreneurs, we would cease to move forward within our local economies and our country. With this belief at the core of this organization, we strive to support young entrepreneurs. We want to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs and take risks, to give life and sustainability to big ideas. With the formidable challenges facing South Africa’s young people, the final lesson is that no idea can be too big.

With The Startup Foundation, we will boost entrepreneurship through education. I personally believe that a cultural shift is necessary for youth entrepreneurship and innovation to accelerate. We believe that there is a very strong need for more innovative funding models and that our government needs to play a more supportive role. We believe that young people will be the driving force behind our economic prosperity in the coming decades, but we need policies and programs to enhance their opportunities.

We are working on exciting initiatives that'll will change how young entrepreneurs view entrepreneurship in South Africa. Our lined up projects include setting up the Startup Bank, Startup Assembly, Startup Hotline, Startup Campaign as well as declaring 2015 as the Year of The Startup and many exciting interventions which I will gladly share with you.

Target Age Group(s): What age group(s) do(es) your solution target through it's programming?


Intervention Focus: Identify which of the following best explain key parts of your solution

Job Creation, Job Search, Entrepreneurship, Training/Skill Development, Community, Online Learning, Mentorship, New industries, Policy & Analysis, Products or Services, Financing, Rural Economies.

Do you have separate programs or initiatives that target the following types of populations?

Marginalized/Minority, Boys/Men, Girls/Women, Disabled (physical/mental).

Impact - Reach: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

10,001 to 50,000

Number of People Directly Employed by Your Organization

Fewer than 10

Number of Volunteers

Fewer than 10

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below? Select a theme below that most applies to your work. If none of them do, no problem, you can skip this question.

Strengthen Job-Matching Services: help those who prepare, match, and link job seekers with opportunities to grow

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers? Select a theme below that most applies to your work. If none of them do, no problem, you can skip this question.

Lack of youth empowerment