This interactive and popular session was adapted from the internationally acclaimed Dragons’ Den television series. Following a national call for applications, three non-profit organisations (NPOs) from across South Africa – Alliance for Parenting Education in Africa (APEA), Community Action Partnership (CAP) and Hlumelisa – were selected to pitch a project to a panel of corporate donors. The NPOs received detailed feedback, empowering them with expert advice about how to hone their pitching and fundraising skills.

The session was chaired by Trialogue Founder and Managing Director, Nick Rockey, and judged by Chris Bornman (Eskom Development Foundation), Angie Maloka (MTN SA Foundation) and Mthobeli Tengimfene (Vodacom Foundation). Each NPO had eight minutes to pitch their organisation, specific project, goals and funding requirements, which was followed by five minutes of questions from the judges. Finally, after consultation, each of the judges reverted with feedback for each of the presenters and the winner was announced.

NPO pitches

First up was Dieudonne Allo, who pitched APEA’s planned Iziko Centre. APEA was founded in 2014 in the Eastern Cape to provide grassroots support and a nurturing environment for the healthy development of children in disadvantaged communities. The Iziko Centre will be a multipurpose centre and playground, based in Mthata, which will offer programmes and training to children, parents and teachers – to benefit the whole eco-system of the child. The community has donated the land to APEA; now the NPO requires the funds to build the centre.

The second presentation was by Herman Smit of CAP. This organisation was started in Swellendam in 2011, with job-readiness programmes for out-of-school youth. It now runs 15 different projects aimed at skills development and job creation, with the objective of moving people from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’. CAP’s partnerships with local businesses and local government structures ensure that community members can contribute to the economy. However, to meet a growing demand, CAP requires funding to upgrade its facilities.
Finally, Sindiswa Zukani presented on how Hlumelisa rehabilitates offenders by providing horticultural training. By focusing on growing people and enabling inmates to get in touch with nature, Hlumelisa provides skills and dignity, equipping offenders for post-rehabilitation life. The NPO’s focus is education and job creation – through its training courses and through the produce that it grows. Hlumelisa requires funding to establish a new training site at Boksburg Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Judges’ feedback

Following each of the presentations, the judges asked the representatives a variety of questions, from success rates and current partnerships, alignments and affiliations – particularly with government – to how each organisation will measure its expected outcomes and what capacity there is to scale their programmes.

The judges emphasised the importance of getting to the point quickly in a pitch. “In the first two minutes of your pitch, I need to know very clearly who you are and what you do,” commented Maloka. Tengimfene agreed. “I want to know you are. I need to be assured of your credibility and sustainability early. I also want the detail. I want to know about the quality of your placements. You need to be very specific.”

Maloka also highlighted the importance of context. “What is the problem that you are dealing with in your area? What are the needs? How will you assist?” She also suggested that NPOs break their funding requirements into phases. “Which aspect of the funding do you need most immediately?”

The judges also spent time discussing the importance of measurement of outcomes and impacts. “I have to account for concrete deliverables,” stated Tengimfene. “You therefore need to articulate these very succinctly to me, and you need to be able to attribute those outcomes to your organisation.” “Remember, added Maloka, “you are not the only one doing what you are doing – you are a contributor. You must be able to measure the outcomes of your intervention.”

Bornman spent some time advising the NPOs about the importance of using community resources. “Approach pensioners for advice, ask them to spend some time teaching your kids. Get your local partners on board.” He also stressed the usefulness of engaging with other NPOs working in the same field. “Not only will they have similar or complementary skills that could be of use to you, it is critical that you talk to each other in identifying your community’s needs, and working out how you can best support your community – and each other.” “Network and leverage your networks,” added Maloka. “Be innovative and go the extra mile.”

And the winner is…

Judges commended all the representatives on excellent presentations. After a split vote between Hlumelelisa and CAP,  an audience tie-breaker secured the win for Hlumelisa. The organisation will be featured in the 20th edition of The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook.

Judges:

  • Angie Maloka, MTN Foundation
  • Chris Bornman, Eskom
  • Mthobeli Tengimfene, Vodacom Foundation

NPOs representatives:

  • Dieudonne Allo, APEA
  • Herman Smit, CAP
  • Sindiswa Zukani, Hlumelelisa

Facilitator:

  • Nick Rockey, Trialogue