Siphiwo Renge was born in Gugulethu, the 8th of 10 children. Growing up during apartheid with six brothers and three sisters meant resources were always stretched at home. All of his older brothers left school to take jobs before completing their education. Rather than following in his brother’s footsteps, Siphiwo chose to complete his education and went on to become a successful entrepreneur and social changemaker.
With his most recent social enterprise, The White Walls Project, Siphiwo aims to generate income and security for local communities using an innovative advertising sales model. Privacy and security is an issue in the townships. Unfortunately government built houses do not include a boundary wall, leaving homes along the main road especially exposed and vulnerable. Being located in high traffic areas creates a disruptive environment for the families that live there. For people living in these communities it is not uncommon for strangers to walk into the house at any hour of the day. To combat this problem, Siphiwo has developed an innovative business model that enables The White Walls Project to take on the cost of building external boundary walls by selling advertising space strategically placed at key transport junctions. The walls provide privacy and security for local residents whilst simultaneously creating profitable advertising space that can be sold to relevant brands looking to reach a captive target market.
The business model and social impact are woven together in a unique way, homeowners get 20% of the gross income from the advertising sales and the rest of the revenue is cycled back into the project for expansion. Sharing the profit with the homeowners, who are not in the position to build the walls themselves, provides an incentive to maintain the walls and creates goodwill with the community. The walls instill pride in the community and put food on the table by generating a reliable source of income through the advertising revenue. Having a cleaner more presentable atmosphere changes the dynamic of the community and mindsets of people living there creating a ripple effect for local businesses and residents. The long term hope is that The White Walls will be a catalyst for bringing in further investment and reviving the areas in which the project operates.
UnLtd South Africa is a nonprofit organisation that identifies and supports social entrepreneurs in South Africa. We do this by awarding grants and opening doors for people who have innovative entrepreneurial ideas that aim to have a positive social impact.