YIPA SUSTAINABLE YOUNG CHANGEMAKER AWARD
At the GBCSA Green Building Convention Awards 2021, GBCSA partnered with the Youth in Property Association (YIPA) to introduce the inaugural YIPA Sustainable Young Changemaker Award, which recognises the exceptional contribution of young people to sustainability in the built environment sector.
Thamsanqa Hoza, CEO of Cape Town start-up Hot Nozzle Innovate, is the first recipient of the award. He is a young leader who is passionate about the intersection of infrastructure development, technology and improving the livelihoods of Africans. Hoza and his business partner Bokamoso Molale invented the Hot Nozzle, a batterypowered portable showerhead attachment that heats up cold water. No electricity is needed.
Hoza received a Queen’s Young Leaders Award from the Queen of England in 2018 for his work to support young entrepreneurs. +Impact spoke to the inspiring 19-year-old from Welkom.
+Impact: You were only in high school when you conceptualised the Hot Nozzle. What is your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Hoza: A friend and I had just moved to a boarding school in Cape Town that focused on maritime education, so everything was set the way it would be on a ship. There was a hierarchy system where seniors were like captains and juniors were like cadets – and this meant we did everything last. We left events last because we had to clean, got our food last and even showered last, meaning that we always showered with cold water! Our boarding school bought additional electric (tank) water heaters as well as other methods like geyser blankets, but this did not solve our problem – it just meant that the seniors could enjoy longer showers. We thought it would be cool to personalise the shower experience and that’s where the idea was born.
How did you get your idea to product? What motivated you to see it though?
Even though we researched further into how we could make such a product and made some initial prototypes, for several years, the idea remained just that – an idea. While in university, we zoomed out from the context in which the idea came and further explored the problems around conventional water heaters and just why they have not been working for Africans and came out with three important insights:
- Almost 81% of Africans do not have stable access to water heating technologies and must rely on methods such as boiling water in a kettle, pouring it into a “vaskom” and that being their lived reality of a shower because they cannot afford or don’t have infrastructure needed to use the current technology.
- The water heating industry makes revenues in excess of $28.4-billion (with the exchange rate of almost R16 to the dollar at time of publication, this equates to R442.4-billion in rands) each year growing at a 4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), but Africa as a whole is estimated to only contribute less than R10-billion.
- Bringing things closer to home, even though a South African water heater industry has been established for over 100 years and contributes close to 50% of all water heater usage on the continent, it is estimated that only 29-33% of our population has a geyser.
It then became obvious to us that current technologies are not affordable and accessible to most of the population, and that we needed a solution that is specifically designed with the African use-case in mind. We also wanted to add sustainability into our solution. We assembled a team, managed to raise Angel Investment, took time to understand the problem more and developed a working prototype that eventually evolved into a product.
What was your biggest obstacle?
Making a new product is not easy and came with its own set of challenges, but I feel the biggest was getting access to enough early-stage funding to speed up R&D and product development as well as support to navigate regulatory hurdles.
What has been your biggest lesson?
Building a solid team and strong partnerships where you can leverage experience is the most important thing for an early-stage start-up. I would also add in obsessing over the customer: a great product does not mean a great business; we constantly had to innovate to get the right business model, as well as channels to acquire and serve customers. Things worth building also take longer than expected.
What surprised you?
The support that people are willing to give as well as the openness to give young people like myself a shot. I was also surprised that we managed to develop a whole new product and business that has the potential to become a market leader on the continent.
What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
We are working to fully commercialise our product to the open market and finish off our closed pilot. We’re also looking to start building a local facility that will ensure we build a strong, customer-centric brand.
What advice can you give to other young green stars?
Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. You can learn as well as provide value to your more experienced peers. Also just take your time and have fun throughout the process.
THE GREENOVATE AWARDS
A joint initiative by Growthpoint Properties and the GBCSA, the competition challenges senior students to create innovative green solutions to environmental issues facing the property industry. Active since 2015, the Awards have the goal of seeding an early passion for sustainable development in university students. The programme also showcases the future leaders of the built industry.
Making a name for themselves as innovators, changemakers and plant-shapers, the winners of the 2021 Greenovate Student Awards in the property category were:
First: Tristan Fernandes – University of Cape Town: “A Life Cycle Cost Analysis of Developing High-rise Sustainable, Innovative, Affordable Housing in South Africa”.
Second: Aasif Mohamed, Asemahle Mngxuma and Sacha Harper – University of the Witwatersrand: “Experimental process of introducing chicken manure as an additive in cement to decrease pollution and increase thermal insulation as well as other properties of a concrete mix”.
Third: Barret de Willers – University of Cape Town: “Investigating the adoption of green building features, initiatives, and technology in commercial buildings”.
“The genuine passion for a higher cause shared by all the students participating in the awards, and nurtured by their universities, was clearly demonstrated in the cutting-edge thinking about building and operating our cities, towns, neighbourhoods and buildings in more environmentally sustainable ways. The GBCSA is proud to spark ‘greenovation’ at South African universities and shape a better future,” says Georgina Smit, head of technical at the GBCSA.
THE COROBRIK STUDENT ARCHITECTURE AWARDS
The Corobrik Student Architecture Awards jump-starts careers, builds the industry and designs tomorrow. Regional winners are selected from eight major universities, based on the students’ final theses. These regional winners then go through to the national round, where the top title is awarded, plus a R70 000 grand prize.
The 2021 national winner is Mpho Sephelane from the School of Architecture at the University of Cape Town, who received a R70 000 cash prize. The thesis by Sephelane was entitled “Re[covering] Place: African ways of seeing, thinking and making as a call to rethink and remake places in cities”. The judges’ citation stated that Sephelane “shifted our mindsets to trust our heritage to guide us and to be truly authentic. She narrated the use of the Basotho blanket as a transformative and imaginative symbol of identity and relevance”.
“I am extremely delighted and honoured to receive this prestigious award. I am even more excited to represent UCT at a national level,” says Sephelane. She adds that the Corobrik Student Architecture Awards is a great platform to share ideas on integrating African narratives into students’ work. “In sponsoring such awards, companies like Corobrik, open new avenues of work and collaboration that propel students into the professional world, where they can take their ideas further. Apart from the exposure, it also inspires other students to perform at their level best and offers a chance for them to engage with student work from different institutions.”
Entitled “Re[covering] Place: African ways of seeing, thinking and making as a call to rethink and remake places in cities”, Sephelane’s thesis investigates issues of recovery and preservation of traditional African knowledge systems, and how these can be translated into making contemporary spaces.