Better Living Challenge


Better Living Challenge 1


The first BLC was designed as a competition challenge, and ran from 2014 to 2016. It called upon manufacturers, designers, inventors and entrepreneurs to design innovations to meet the needs and increase the choice of products available to the home improvement market, specifically in low income areas.


Submissions included building materials, low-carbon products, water capturing and drainage systems, eco-friendly flushing toilet systems, fire-safety products and interior items for storage and comfort. The BLC 1 competition-model aimed to facilitate the production cycle of these solutions from research and concept stage, to prototype, testing and production, through to marketing and distribution of finished product.


In Partnership with Western Cape Government


In 2012, the Western Cape government launched 110% Green, aimed at connecting green and the economy through practical action. Two key objectives of 110% Green are to drive innovations that support the Western Cape’s goal of becoming Africa’s leading green economic hub, and to make the green economy work for the poor.


To this end, the Premier hosted Smart Innovation on Tour in July 2013, to showcase green innovations to government and business leaders. The tour also launched the Better Living Challenge, a design competition aimed at supporting the improvement of the living conditions of low-income communities in the Western Cape, through the increased availability of sustainable products and solutions.


Objectives of BLC 1


The BLC 1 aimed to facilitate the product to market journey of solutions from the research and concept stage, through prototyping and production, to marketing and distribution of the finished product.


The higher-level project objectives of the BLC 1 were as follows:


  • Increased engagement by designers, manufacturers, retailers and others in the development of products, services and systems for the low-income housing market;
  • New and improved products for the market;
  • Increased choice of home improvement products, services and systems; and
  • Increased sales of local products, services and systems.


Submissions, Selection and Adjudication


The BLC1 stimulated the entry of 130 solutions. Through a selection process guided by 47 experts, these were reduced to 22 finalists and 33 exhibitors for the BLC Showcase held at the Cape Town Station Forecourt from 28th October to 8th November 2014. The three winners were chosen through a voting process that included a formal judging panel, facilitated community votes and public votes.


Outcomes of BLC1


The BLC 1 produced two winners in the student category and three overall winners in the three categories (comfortable, connected and structural homes). The winners were chosen through a voting process that included a judging panel, facilitated community votes and public votes.


The three category winners were awarded R500 000 each in support services to help refine their solutions and take them through the next steps to the market.


  • Rambrick (Compressed Earth Blocks by USE-It): Rambricks consists of a 30% blend of waste builder’s rubble and available clay-bearing soils to manufacture compressed earth blocks that compare with other bricks and that can be made on location after basic training.
  • City Spec – An open source mobile inspection tool that helps civil society organisations and community workers monitor and administer basic service delivery in informal settlements.
  • Lumkani (Khusela) – The Lumkani fire detector is a low-cost, battery-operated unit. It is networked with other units to create the mesh of an early-warning fire alert system, and forms an integrated fire alert service.