THE annual Champions Programme is an exciting empowerment initiative that offers budding social entrepreneurs the opportunity to be the catalyst for positive social change in their communities across KwaZulu Natal.

 The programme is funded by the Provincial Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department in partnership with University of KwaZulu Natal. According to the Champions Programme team leader, Prof Shahida Cassiem, the programme is designed to develop individuals to become innovative agents for grassroots transformation. “Through a rigorous nomination and selection process, we selected ten candidates with existing small businesses, who were effecting change in their communities. Our programme usually runs as an action learning, interactive social lab. We usually conduct two-day sessions per month followed by practicals. However, we had to go remote this year due to Covid-19.

“Our programme is based on a keen understanding of the particular challenges faced by entrepreneurs modelled on best practice. Candidates are exposed to cutting edge thinking and innovative applications in social entrepreneurship. 

Prof Cassiem said that one of the great strengths of their programme was the diversity of the Champions. They were varied in age, the nature of their businesses, the sector they operated in, their background, their educational attainment and so on. What held them in common was that they demonstrated passion, commitment and drive. They were all bound by the intense desire to make a difference. She said the programme collaborated with academia, business and the broader community to allow the candidates to explore ways to enhance and improve their businesses. “Each candidate completes a diagnostic following the training, which allows the facilitator to assess the level at which each Champion operates. A team of consultants engages each Champion with support on the theme which is then implemented in the field. The programme thus comprises content, consulting, action, reflection and learning. “Champions exhibit and present their journeys at the Demo Day which is supported by the corporate, community and public-sector stakeholders of the province. This year the Demo Day had to be conducted on the Zoom platform.

“Ms Sbonile Sithole, who has the potential to become a sought after and skillful events baker, was placed third in the Demo Day presentation and is a worthy winner of the Awqaf SA prize of R 5,000 to further her business. We are sure that Sbonile will use the cash injection to strengthen her social journey and will continue to make a positive contribution to her community,” said Prof Cassiem, expressing her gratitude to Awqaf SA, whom she observed had been committed as a sponsor for several years.

Ms Sbonile Sithole


The three winners were as follows:

1st – Ms Phumzile Majola (Albaraka Prize)

2nd – Ms Teressa Nzimande (Ismail Bana Charitable Trust Prize)

3rd – Ms Sbonile Sithole (Awqaf SA Prize)


More Info: 

Zeinoul Abedien Cajee (CEO) 

0847861409 | info@awqafsa.org.za