" NGOS CONTAIN SOME OF SA’S GREATEST INNOVATORS."- ASHA PATEL, HEAD OF B2B MARKETING FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AND HEAD OF MARKETING FOR SOUTH AFRICA, GOOGLE
When it comes to innovation, society tends to lionise entrepreneurs taking companies from the startup phase to global household names. But some of South Africa’s greatest innovators are in the NGO space, working to do incredible things every day to make a profound difference in people’s lives.
In my time at Google, I’ve witnessed this first hand. Google.org has committed over $20 million to organisations and people working to improve African lives, and disbursed more than 50 Google.org grants across Africa. The vast majority of these grants have gone to local nonprofits, with the aim of helping them find innovative solutions that empower the communities they operate in.
One of the best examples of just how innovative NGOs can be is CodeX, which helps unemployed women learn software development skills to begin their professional journeys in the technology sector. In doing so, it doesn’t just set those women up in high-demand careers but also equips them with skills that could be vital to becoming entrepreneurs themselves in the future.
Another NGO which embodies innovation is Gift of the Givers, which has helped thousands upon thousands of people around the world during times of crisis. Rapidly bringing expertise and resources together takes serious amounts of innovation.
Whether they’re working on youth services to community engagement, job skilling, arts, or any one of dozens of other societal issues, so many areas of our country and continent would be worse off without the involvement of NGOs. But far from viewing them as doing staid but necessary work, we should see them for what they are: innovators that deserve to be celebrated.
Asha Patel is Google’s Head of B2B Marketing for SubSaharan Africa and Head of Marketing for South Africa. In her 11 years at Google, she’s held multiple positions leading global and regional brand relationships across the Finance, FMCG and Auto sectors. Asha is a passionate diversity advocate.