Life Choices Academy: Human-Centred Design Thinking Bootcamp by Belle and Co.

26-27 June; 3-4 July; 10-11 July 2019

Over the course of 3 weeks, 60 coding students of the Lifechoices Academy were exposed to Design-Thinking methodology, which enabled them to get out of the computer room and onto the streets to find out the needs, desires and challenges faced by ordinary people. Using design thinking principles, teams tackled some of the most intractable problems facing society such as Youth Unemployment, Public Transport, Homelessness and Education.

The intensive journey was designed and facilitated by Belisa Rodrigues of Belle and Co, which culminated in teams presenting their final prototype solution to Life Choices staff and students.

Here is a story board visually depicting the processes the teams went through from Inspiration > Ideation > Implementation:

Crowd-funding for your non-profit

Crowdfunding (CF) presentation, Thu 30 Aug 2018, AORTIC Secretariat (Mowbray, Cape Town)

On Thursday 30 August 2018, Belle & Co. Associate Alexandre Rodrigues presented a lecture on non-profit financing in South Africa, with a focus on crowdfunding.  Alex is a CAIA (Certified Alternative Investment Analyst) charter holder, and works as an investment principal at Edge Growth, an SME growth specialist and impact investor.

The presentation delivered by Alex covered the following topics:

  • What is crowdfunding?
  • How does crowdfunding work?
  • How do you put a campaign together?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What platforms can you use?
  • Q&A

The presentation lasted an hour and participants in attendance were mostly from cancer non-profit companies (NPCs) AORTIC and CANSA.  Only a few participants had had some exposure to crowdfunding, with one having run an entire campaign on rewards-based international CF platform Indiegogo (to raise funding for a music concert), another having used GivenGain (also a global CF platform, but charity-based) for on-going small donations (for their cancer related NPC) whilst the last person had mostly only heard of CF (in a corporate model run by a financial services firm, OUTvest by Outsurance – a way to crowdfund one’s investing goals).

Alex began the presentation by highlighting the main sectors that use crowdfunding (social causes at 30% followed by small businesses/ entrepreneurs at 17%, with creative industries in third place at 12%).  The various types of CF models were then briefly discussed (equity, rewards, charity and peer-to-peer/P2P lending) before the global stats on the quantum of financing raised via this mechanism were shown (over $50bn worldwide in 2016, with most devoted to P2P lending at over 75%).  SA examples of platforms offering the various CF models were presented (rewards-based: Thundafund, equity: UpRise.Africa, charity: Back-a-buddy and P2P: PeerFin/ Rainfin).

The presentation went on to describe the elements of successful campaigns (e.g. use of rich media like videos, short but punchy copy, tools to share the campaign on social media, deadlines on fundraising plus realistic targets, reaching the “tipping point” within the first 2/3 weeks etc), with a focus on South African rewards-based CF examples (mostly taken from SA CF platform Thundafund), including: Land for Lions, Siki’s Coffee Revolution and “Know Your Water”.

Alex then explained what factors to consider when choosing a CF platform for one’s campaign (fees, type of funding: all-or-nothing or keep what you raise, ability to use/ incorporate multimedia, social media sharing tools etc), before delving into the importance of defining what you need the funds for and why (clarity of purpose to engage your supporters).

The presenter then stressed the importance of having a (realistic) fundraising goal and ensuring that the campaign length is optimal (SA data on rewards-based CF campaigns show that the average successful campaign raises ~R25k over 9 weeks).

Alex then went on to explain how campaigns run by dynamic teams rather than just an individual generally outperform (mix of skills and broader networks), and how maintaining a budget for the project and campaign is key to avoid running out of cash during fundraising and execution of the project.

Towards the end of the presentation, Alex explained the significance of planning, especially during the critical times of one month prior to launch (ensuring the content is ready – rich media like photos and videos, plus copy for the story, milestones to report back to community on progress, thank you letters to donors/ supporters etc) as well as on the day (stressing the importance of being able to “launch in a day”, i.e. go all out during the 24 hours after the campaign goes live, sending links to the campaign via social media, emails and even considering a launch party to drum up excitement for the project).

Alex explained the significance of feeding back to the community throughout the campaign as an essential way to keep interest and momentum, i.e. maintaining the campaign, especially given the fact that up to 65% of the funds raised are done so in the first 2 and last 2 weeks (i.e. the importance of starting and ending strong) of a campaign.  It was noted that campaigns that didn’t get past the 30-40% fundraising mark in the first 2-3 weeks were unlikely to reach their goal by the end of the campaign.

Lastly, Alex walked the crowd through his experiences running his own charity-based CF campaign 5 years ago (in 2013) and what he did well (short, punchy copy; a thank you to donors) versus what he did poorly (lack of rich media, no updates to supporters etc).  The presentation ended with some general Q&A, during which participants asked questions such as: “what the best platform to raise charitable funding in SA was” (local platform vs international; answer: depends on if campaign could have global appeal or not, i.e. for cancer-related causes, either one could work), and “what a cancer NPC could use CF to raise funding for” (e.g. sending an underprivileged scientist to an international cancer conference; to pay for the publication/ printing of a cancer directory etc).

The group then broke for refreshments and general socializing, with catering provided for by AORTIC.






Mowbray Town Hall Talk I: Collaborative Entrepreneurship

Mowbray, Cape Town: October 2017




17.30 -19.30

The Mowbray Townhall Talk Series aims to create a vibrant community hub of sharing, learning and interacting.

This month’s session will see prominent business people from the Somali Association, Jewish and Muslim communities among others, sharing best practice on entrepreneurship. How do you use your cultural capital to build your business whilst building your community?

Join us if you are a curious local entrepreneur!


This event is run by the Cape Town Chapter of Junior Chamber Initiative in partnership with Cultural Entrepreneurship Hub Cape Town, Belle and Co, Ward 57, Old Mowbray Cottages, RMCA, GSCID, Mowbray Library and community members.

“Collaborative Entrepreneurship” from a multi-cultural perspective.


*Siyabulela Sophi

Siyabulela Sophi is a visionary that overcame many obstacles to start a business that is a catalyst for change. Award winning Social Entrepreneur, originally from the Eastern Cape, Mr Sophi founded Makhaza Lifestyle Pty Ltd in 2013, a social enterprise specializing in project Mmnagement and clothing Mmnufacturing.

Sophi is one of the pioneers who founded the 1st Friday Conversations in Khayelitsha which aims to engage youth on a monthly basis on topics of interest to inspire, empower and encourage, among other things, youth entrepreneurship.

*Scott Roberts

Mr Roberts is the co-founder of Eden, a startup NGO which aims to increase young South African Entrepreneurs’ access to establish business networks by leveraging the Jewish Business community from within. He is past deputy Chairperson of the South African Union of Jewish Students UCT and has just retired from a long career in Habonim Dror, a progressive Jewish Youth Movement. He is passionate about finding new and inclusive avenues towards economic growth.

*Abdikadir Mohamed

Mr Mohamed, was born in Somalia, in a small town called Kismayo (a port city) and came to South Africa in 2002. He started operating small businesses in different townships across four provinces of South Africa. He joined the Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) in 2011 and held different positions, eventually becoming the Director of Western Cape. Most recently (2016), he was awarded a national award from the Department of Home Affairs in the field of Civil Society/NGO category called the “Mkhaya Migrants Award” which recognises outstanding achievements of foreigners toward the development of South Africa.

The SASA currently runs a programme called Business Skills Sharing Workshop where local business owners and potential entrepreneurs discuss issues related to business.

Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) and it is mission and vision are as follows:

Mission: promote the ethos of self-reliance and local integration.
Vision: Build unity among locals and refugees based on peace and tolerance.


Thank you to those who came to support our first Mowbray Town Hall Talk series “Collaborative Entrepreneurship”. Insights garnered from the Somali and Jewish communities were invaluable and inspired some to start thinking about their own self reliance and resilience. Thank you to all our local and international supporters.


Belle and Co. awarded EU project on Social Entrepreneurship

Skopje, Macedonia: December, 2016

“Dive in Social Entrepreneurship” is a capacity building project financed by the EU under the Erasmus + programme, Capacity building in the field of youth, and it will be implemented within a period of 17 months and it will include partners coming from following countries: Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Romania, Brazil, South Africa and Costa Rica.

The project consists of capacity building activities (kick off seminar and local researches) and mobility activities (seminar, training courses, study visit and job shadowing). The activities will be based on variety of methods and techniques of non-formal education and they will support active role of the participants in the project activities. The activities will target various groups including young people and youth leaders, youth workers, program managers and project coordinators, representatives of institutions and local authorities.

2017 Activity plan:

FEB, Romania: Research Seminar on country comparative social entrepreneurship ecosystems

MARCH, Greece: Training on Social Entrepreneurship I

MAY, Turkey: Training on Social Entrepreneurship II

JUNE, Bulgaria: Study tour of Social Enterprises

SEPT, South Africa: Job Shadow of Social Enterprises

DEC, Macedonia: M& E and Close Off off

The key aim of the project is to provide a way for active development of human capital, practical encouragement of social entrepreneurial activities and establishment of effective pathways to youth employment in strategic cooperation with different stakeholders.

The project kickoff meeting was held in Macedonia in December 2016.

Co-Creating Mowbray

Mowbray Cape Town: April, 2016

Belle and Co. held its first public engagement with Mowbray residents to explore possible avenues of re-imagining Mowbray through place-making and co-creation. Residents shared previous visioning exercises such as “Magic Mowbray” and the GSCID’s “Mowbray as Learning District” concept. RMCA, Open Streets, Old Mowbray Cottages, CPF, GSCID and others, were in attendance. Thank you goes to Enock Nkomo for the use of his business premises on Mowbray Main Road.