File picture: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Johannesburg - Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) looking for innovative ways to continue improving lives have been invited to enter Google's recently-launched Google Impact Challenge South Africa.

The challenge was launched on Wednesday and will see the tech giant commit $2 million [approximately R25 million] worth of grant funding to local organisations that are innovating using technology to reach their goals.

This on the back of Google chief executive Sundar Pichai's announcement that the company had committed to providing $20m [over R300 million] funding to African NPOs over the next five years. 

Google Africa chief marketing officer Mzamo Masito says: “This is the first time we are running a Google Impact Challenge in Africa. Many African NPOs are doing great work with real impact and we’re keen to shine a light on them, and give a financial boost to innovative projects and ideas. 

"We believe technology can help local and national organisations to better reach their goals and solve some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, and we are eager to back people who are using technology in new ways to make a positive difference in their communities."

He further added that: “We also want to highlight the healthy state of social enterprise in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa today, and encourage NPOs to consider how technology can help them reach their goals,” Masito says.

The Google Impact Challenge is open to all organisations with the only criteria being that those running it must be South African and it must be based in South Africa. 

The challenge is open to all registered NPOs whether newly-established or already operational. 

"The organisations must also have a community impact, a reach, must be innovative and must be feasible," said head of marketing for Google SA Asha Patel.

Four non-profits in South Africa stand to win $250 000 [over R3 million] each while eight finalists will each get $125 000 [ approximately R1.5 million].

The winning non-profits will get cash as well as access to guidance, technical assistance and mentorship from Google, which they are free to take up should they so choose.

Winners will be decided by a panel of local judges and a public vote.

The South African judging panel includes HuffPost SA editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee, businesswoman & TV personality Basetsana Kumalo, local actress Nomzamo Mbatha, Google SA country director Luke Mckend, singer and entrepreneur Yvonne Chaka Chaka, TV personality Maps Maponyane, singer/songwriter Simphiwe Dana and computer scientist and entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana.

Applications are open for the next six months, and organisations can apply at https://impactchallenge.withgoogle.com/southafrica2018