Paseka Lesolang was named best “green entrepreneur” in Joburg walking away with R1 million last night after the Green City Startup awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony celebrated startups in the environmental sector with ideas that can help make Johannesburg a greener place.

Eighty-six entrants were wittled down to eight, and those final eight startups were given R250 000 to to build a prototype of their idea and then pitch it to a panel of judges. Lesolang, who runs a startup called WHC, created the Leak-Less Valve as a solution to help prevents up to 70% of the water wastage if ever a toilet’s cistern leaks.

Runner ups included Sean Moolman, creator of the PowerOptimal peak energy demand saver, and Gabriel Ally who produced the Geza Jozi Recycle e-Trike that helps street trolley recyclers stay safe and recycle more goods. They received prize money of R500 000 and R300 000 respectively.

The only woman among the top four winners, Yolandi Schoeman, who owns and runs Boaberry, received the third, walked away with R300 000 for the AqueouSphere floating treatment wetland aimed at solving water and sanitation issues.

From left to right: Gabriel-Ally, Paseka-Lesolang, Yolandi-Schoeman and Sean-Moolman
From left to right: Gabriel Ally, Paseka Lesolang, Yolandi Schoeman and Sean Moolman

The Green City Startup was created in partnership with the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Resolution Circle tech incubator and the awards were held at the incubator’s premises in Milpark.

“We were looking for ideas that were immediately scalable and entries were open to start-ups, SMEs and partnerships in the areas of energy, waste, water, transport or buildings,” said Ravi Naidoo, the city’s executive director of economic development. 

“The Green City Startup competition has been a vivid demonstration of what a “triple helix” – a partnership of government, academia, and business — can achieve. We want to expand the size of the programme, by inviting the private sector to join us in building the innovation system in Johannesburg,” he added. “The city has provided the seed funding, and we have created partnerships with world-class expertise, in our judges and our technical partners. This provides an effective platform to find and support some of the best entrepreneurial talent in Johannesburg.”

Naidoo said due to the success of the initiative, the competition will be back for its second edition next year.