Stellenbosch has emerged as one of the fastest-growing regions in South Africa in recent years, spurred on by a thriving innovation ecosystem and growth in value-adding sectors. The town as witnessed sustained economic growth, declines in unemployment, and a rise in human development and service delivery. By 2020, the town’s reputation was cemented when it (together with Franschhoek and Paarl) was recognised as the third most valuable district in the country.

However, this is about to change, as Kayamandi is set to become South Africa’s first smart township – a community empowered by innovation, where a combination of high- and low-tech solutions play a pivotal role in redressing digital inequality, enabling greater social and economic inclusion, and fostering urban resilience for future generations.

To aid Kayamandi’s journey towards becoming a smart township, Stellenbosch Network has partnered with Lunttu, Ranyaka, Stellenbosch University, the Regional Innovation Support Programme and Stellenbosch Municipality, to launch an #IdeasForChange Challenge – an ideation competition which seeks to uncover and incubate the development of innovative ideas, business models, process flows, and technology with the potential to improve the quality of life of residents of Kayamandi.

Says Hanli Brink, operations manager of Stellenbosch Network:

“The power of technology to accelerate inclusive socio-economic development is well known, but its potential has yet to be realised in South Africa’s most under-served communities. As an organisation working to foster increased knowledge generation, resource sharing and innovation in the Stellenbosch region – and recognising the call to support the people of Kayamandi – we believe that now is the time to focus our efforts beyond the centre of town; to partner with committed members of the local community, and together, help transform Kayamandi into its own modern hub of economic growth and activity.”

Explaining the concept of a smart township, Wesley Diphoko, the founder of Lunttu, explains that the idea is to use technology to transform traditional townships into inclusive micro-economies, where accessible, purposeful and relevant innovation plays a key role in helping citizens become active players in the economy, society and public sphere.

He continues, saying that smart townships use data and digital technology to improve decision-making and better the quality of life for citizens and businesses. This relates to a range of fields, from innovative solutions in healthcare, housing, safety and security, to education, public services and civic engagement.


Running from now until 20 November 2022, the #IdeasForChange Challenge is open to all people and businesses living, working or studying in Stellenbosch, and the surrounding areas, with all entrants set to receive free entry into an online value proposition masterclass, to help them develop their idea and further their business proposition.

Applicants will then be able to enter one of two categories – the first for brand new ideas, while the second seeks to support established businesses – with both category finalists to be selected by a combination of public vote and input from the judging panel of experts. The winner will receive a R20,000 cash prize, with second and third place receiving R6,000 and R4,000 respectively.

To enter or learn more about the challenge, click here.

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