COMMON Pitch South Africa

Meet the big winner of COMMON Pitch South Africa! Taking home over $35,000 in cash and prizes (150,000 Rand plus in-kind awards) for the night was Dr. Johnny Anderton and his startup Earth Bag Build. The company aims to scale market availability of the Earth Bag - a simple and sturdy community-oriented building system. Check out Core77's feature article, and the Lead SA and 567 Cape Talk video interviews to find out more about Dr. Johnny's plans.

Heather Costaras

Vent! is an art and performance platform for South African teenagers brimming with incredible, creative talent with few opportunities to express themselves. VENT! is an outlet to share their stories, hopes and dreams with the world through art, music, and public stage performances. The project uses art and creativity to drive personal growth, education, empowerment and transformation. A screenplay is in the works. VENT! The Movie is a cross between Tsotsi, Billy Elliot & Fame, providing an incredible opportunity for talented rough-diamonds to SHINE! And to show the world who they really are.
Video: Youtube
Home: South Africa

Mawande ‘Manez’ Sobetwa, Gavin Weale, Mike Schalit, Thobekile Mbanda

Café Mal is a café-society coffee shop and bullhorn calling all geeks, nerds, hackers, hipsters, makers, builders, intelligistas, intellerati and creative bohemians and sophisticates alike to gather at this social-connector lair, café and gallery space known as Mal – South African slang for “crazy.” The Cape Town lifestyles startup space aims to unite innovative minds and hearts from across an often times, still socially-divided city, using the currency of creativity, skill-sharing and café sales to level the playing field and make room for new diverse opportunities for creative capital in Cape Town. Like the artist cafes of Montmartre in Paris and the bohemian hangouts of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, Café Mal in Cape Town likewise serves as a creative, inter-social incubator and café space, providing a home-away-from-home for ambitious minds of all kinds: young and old, rich and not, black and white, and everyone in between.

Video: Youtube  
Home: South Africa

Marisol García & Krista Canellakis

Crowdplaces is a user-friendly crowd-funding platform where individuals and communities can pitch ideas and win funding for physical neighborhood improvements. Projects in underutilized, re-imagined spaces like urban gardens, parklets, play structures, bike security, mobile sidewalk libraries, and murals can be pitched, funded and built by citizens. It is also a place to be inspired. By facilitating a direct link to funding, Crowdplaces empowers everyday people to create opportunities to be design thinkers, problem solvers and drivers of change in their own neighborhoods. Crowdplaces aims to be the primary crowd-funding platform operating globally that is focused on affordable, sustainable, socially minded development projects.

Twitter: @mgarciago @kristallakis
Video: Vimeo
Home: Chile

Ludwick Marishane

DryBath™ is the world’s first germicidal Bath-substituting™ skin lotion/gel, the first product developed by Headboy Industries, an invention-development and commercialisation company. Our operations include manufacturing and retailing functions which derive from the commercialisation function at scale. DryBath is a proprietary blend of a biocide, bioflavonoids and moisturisers. It is easy to use and needs minimal water for use.

Presenting Entrepreneur: Ludwick Marishane
Home: South Africa
Twitter: @TheHeadboy
Video: YouTube

Charles Kalama, Lorna Rutto

EcoPost is a social enterprise founded in 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya to address the challenges of plastic pollution, urban waste management, health, unemployment, deforestation and climate change. The company uses recycled plastic waste to create plastic lumber products including fencing and signposts. 500,000 youth enter the job market every year with limited prospects, yet EcoPost has so far created employment for 12 individuals at it’s local recycling plant. In addition, since 2010 the operation has recycled about 1 million kilograms of waste to create our product, saving 25 trees and 25,000 kg CO2 emissions for every 1,000 kilograms, further mitigating climate change.

Video: Youtube
Home: Kenya

Glenda Tutt

MPOWER is a menstrual cup – an innovative sustainable solution for sanitary menstrual management for women living in developing countries. It provides a long-term low-cost solution for women during their cycle, allowing them to carry on with normal daily routines, including working and attending school. In South Africa, there are 13 million women of reproductive age who need menstrual management solutions. Though menstrual cups are currently available in South Africa, distribution is limited and they have not been explored for widespread use. Mpower’s vision is to create change by working with partners and communities to increase availability of the cup, driving awareness, acceptance and adoption of the product.

Video: Youtube
Home: South Africa

Maja Bergström & Petter Hanberger

BRIDGIT is a digital web plug-in tool that offers people a direct way to engage in global issues they care about and find others who are doing the same. The application follows a user’s daily online movement to match them with NGOs and relevant trends, projects, news articles, and participation opportunities, allowing people to research and – above all – take action in the cause of their choice.

Web: &
Video: Vimeo
Home: Sweden & France

Dr. Johnny Anderton, Clare Anderton & Riann Hough

EarthBagBuild is a construction system combining ancient building techniques with 21st century technology: a locally developed and patented high strength polypropylene ‘EarthBag’ filled with earth and stacked. The homes and buildings created are attractive, inexpensive, structurally sound, durable, energy-efficient, acoustically efficient, rot and corrosion proof, fire resistant, non-toxic and bulletproof! The polypropylene bag, made from an industrial by-product, is re-usable and recyclable. Once the structure is built, it can be finished with stucco. The EarthBagBuild concept encourages the establishment of community home-building projects where groups learn to build their own houses, thereafter training others in aspects of the system, thus creating a viral growth of jobs, micro-businesses and self financed or government grant assisted homes. “See one, do one, teach one.”

Video: Youtube 
Home: South Africa

Lo Yi & Liu Yang

Wheel Farm is an urban farm built on Ferris wheel-like structures surrounded by green spaces and residences. The concept combines aesthetic design with integrated systems solutions to solve issues faced by densely populated communities. The Wheel Farm serves as a multi-functional eco-system providing on-site energy, food, water and employment. Achieving water conservation through integrated rainwater catchment and innovative water irrigation systems, farms are viable in areas with low access to clean water. In addition, facility systems allow for localized green energy production, providing power to residents through the conversion of biomass waste into electricity. Patent Pending.

Home: China

Soiya Gecaga

We the Change is a replicable model of centres of excellence and innovation in the field of early childhood education and care serving children ages 0-8 – the years when a child develops the majority of his or her thinking, language, emotional, and social skills, and resistance to disease. Partnering with government, universities and existing primary schools, the organization’s holistic approach incorporates programs of education, healthcare, nutrition, play, emotional support, counseling and child protection for successful 360-degree child development in the earliest years of life. Along with it’s government and primary schools partners, We The Change collaborates with the education research centre based at Kenyatta University, a top university in Kenya, to develop and test the model program that will be later replicated throughout other areas in Africa.

Video: Youtube

Massoud Hassani

Mine Kafon is a wind-blown, wooden, bamboo-spiked ball, based on homemade childhood toys, and designed to decommission land mines by blowing them up. The ball uses GPS to map its path along the way, creating a record of safe pathways. Thousands of square miles in countries all over the world are afflicted with land mines, rendering land useless and disrupting those who rely on it for their livelihoods. The country of Angola currently has nearly a 2:1 ratio of land mines to people: 20 million mines to 12 million people. Using a tool like Mine Kafon to remove landmines in countries like Angola can help repair and rebuild economic opportunities in wasted deserts, allowing people to work and live the safe life that they deserve, like every person on this planet.

Video: Vimeo
Home: Netherlands

Serame Taukobong

Serame Taukobong is the Chief Marketing Officer of MTN. Best known for his creative insights and his innovative approach to marketing, Taukobong is currently the chief marketing officer at MTN South Africa, and is perhaps best known at MTN for being the driving force behind the Ayoba campaign that became a household word in South Africa, and around the world, during the recent 2010 FIFA World Cup.

As a true brand custodian, Serame captures not only the MTN brand through it’s marketing initiatives, but also the spirit of the South African people. Not only is he a true MTNer, but he epitomises the brand in everything he does.

An individual hell bent on achieving hefty objectives, he has also embraced a number of forward-thinking CSI and environmental projects, made the public aware of MTN’s self-sustaining power supply and water recycling programmes at the 14th Avenue campus, in Fairland.

Ian Moir

Ian Moir is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of South Africa’s premier fashion, food and homeware retailer, Woolworths with stores in South Africa, selected African countries and in the Middle East. Woolworths owns 89% of iconic fashion and homeware retailer in Australia, Country Road and has a joint venture with Absa Bank in Woolworths Financial Services.

Prior to assuming the position of CEO at Woolworths in 2010, Ian was CEO of Country Road in Australia for ten years, transforming the business to one of Australia’s fastest growing lifestyle brands.

Before joining Country Road, Ian spent ten years at Woolmark Company Limited as Operations Director responsible for marketing and product development across 32 countries. He has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of London and a joint Masters in Economics and Accounting.

Ian is married with four girls.

Ory Okolloh

Ms. Ory Okolloh is the Policy Manager and Government Relations Manager for Google in Africa. She is a co-founder of Ushahidi and served as the organization’s Executive Director from inception until December 2010. Ory is also the co-founder of Mzalendo, a website that tracks the performance of Kenyan Members of Parliament.
Ms. Okolloh graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and with a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She was previously a summer associate in Covington and Burling, Washington DC and a Chayes Fellow at theWorld Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity.
Ory is a frequent speaker at conferences including TED, World Economic Forum, Poptech, CGI, Techonomy, Mobile Web Africa, and the Monaco Media Forum on issues around citizen journalism, the role of technology in Africa, and the role of young people in reshaping the future of Africa.
Ory currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her husband and her three daughters.

Carlo Ratti

Carlo Ratti is not a design researcher.
He is a technology informer, a possibilities advancer. He is more than a researcher: he is the bridge between physical and digital.
An architect and engineer by training, Ratti directs the Senseable City Laboratory at MIT in Boston. The Lab explores how todays’ technologies are allowing new approaches to the study of cities as they are today – and to the envisioning of how they could be tomorrow. Ratti holds several patents and has co-authored over 200 publications. He is a regular contributor to the architecture magazine, Domus, and Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore. He has written for the BBC, La Stampa, Scientific American and The New York Times. His work has been exhibited worldwide and his Digital Water Pavilion at the 2008 World Expo was hailed by Time as one of the ‘Best Inventions of the Year’.

John Bielenberg

What John does best is help people find the courage and the sense of humor to consider whole new, wrong, ways of accelerating positive change in the world.

John feels so strongly about the value of thinking wrong that he created an immersive program called Project M that is designed to inspire and educate young designers, writers, photographers, and filmmakers by proving that their work—especially their wrongest thinking—can have a significant impact on communities. Since 2003, Project M has developed projects in Alabama, Baltimore, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Detroit, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Maine, Minneapolis, and New Orleans.

In his career, John has won more than 250 design awards, is an AIGA Fellow, has been featured in the ID 50, and teaches at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has acquired six of his projects and staged a solo exhibition in 2000. In addition, John was awarded the Skandalaris Award for Design Entrepreneurship from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009 and was granted an honorary doctorate degree from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011. Also in 2011,John was awarded the NASAD citation for outstanding work as designer, author, educator, social activist and overall impact on the fields of art and design.

In 2011, John collaborated with Alex and Ana Bogusky, and Rob Schuham to form COMMON, a brand that supports, connects and celebrates those designing a new era of socially minded enterprise. And most recently, John has partnered with long-time collaborator Greg Galle to launch a new firm called FUTURE that engages with organizations, institutions and companies that believe benefiting people, communities, society, and the environment is the new advantage in business.


COMMONCM is a community, a collaborative brand and an accelerator for change. We represent a new definition of capitalism, where value seeps through the walls of a business - touching society, the environment and the future.

We believe that speed comes by collaboration. That happiness comes by meaning and purpose. That creativity is a human right. And yes, we believe that we can change the world, because change is happening every day. It just needs - like most things - some steady hands to guide it in the right direction.

And we've got hands. Lots of them. Because COMMON isn't just a network of people ready to rebuild what's broken. It's a community; an active league of creatives, entrepreneurs, students, technologists and even corporations that share a common set of ideals, values and goals. We're individuals freshly bound by the simple knowledge that it's time to do things differently, and that those things start with us.

So here we go.