Drinking has become such a problem in South Africa that even those who consume alcohol responsibly, have a bad reputation, according to two entrepreneurs. Percy Ngobeli and his long-time friend and partner, Makana Mandiwana, want to change this perception through their web and mobile-based application, Scale Social Innovation, which is also known as SCALE.
It helps drinkers monitor how much they consume and spend on liquor, and promotes awareness campaigns, which show how alcohol consumers care for society. Mandiwana and Ngobeli have been friends and business partners since 2007 when they attended university together. The duo spoke to Vutivi News about their entrepreneurial journey.
“We registered our first innovation company in 2014, but it didn’t work out,” Ngobeli said. “In 2019 we went into the food business, which was thriving until the hard lockdown forced us to close shop.” The pair went back to the drawing board and developed SCALE. According to Mandiwana and Ngobeli, SCALE helped people to track their alcohol use and how much they spent on their drinking habits.
This was achieved by users registering their profiles on the website and uploading pictures of the receipts they received from purchasing alcohol each time. Users were encouraged to use the platform through monthly, quarterly and annual prizes.
The inspiration for the platform, which was launched in September and has already announced a winner, was to change the public’s perception of drinking. “We wanted to channel drinkers into involving themselves in socially uplifting initiatives in the areas where they are,” Mandiwana said.
“What we are trying to do is to encourage people to show us what they do to help the underprivileged. The goal of this is to give drinkers a sense of accomplishment that not only are they drinking but are also helping society become a better place.” Ngobeli said they hoped that the platform would also help reduce the high levels of alcohol consumption.
“We had one user that contacted us and told us that after using the platform for a short while he was shocked at just how much he was spending and how much alcohol he was consuming,” he said. “This encouraged him to think of cutting down on the amount of alcohol he consumes.”
Users who register stand a chance to win a monthly cash prize of R500 and spa vouchers. They are automatically entered into the quarterly SCALE competition and stand a chance to win an additional R1000. All quarterly SCALE competition winners will be entered into an annual competition, where the grand prize includes R2000, a smartphone worth R20,000 and data bundles.
Mandiwana said that SCALE was founded on the premise of ubuntu. “The social initiative will promote a culture of responsible drinking and encourage social-tech as a bedrock to meaningfully impact community social projects,” he said.