The Uplift Prize is a charity project unlike many others. The founder of the project, Kartik Gada had noticed that traditional charity models just weren’t working in poverty-stricken areas and decided that a better solution was needed. What Gada had picked up was that most charitable initiatives would work up to the point that communities had enough money or food to sustain them, but they end there and don’t provide the tools and knowledge for real economic development.

This stunted the growth of communities and often led to a cycle of waiting for charity donations, running out and then taking action, a “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day” scenario.

This did not work for Gada who wanted to feed people for a lifetime, so he looked to 3D printers.

While 3D printers can be quite expensive, the RepRap project which started the desktop printing revolution always had the principle that 3D printers should be self-replicating at its heart. So if you have one printer, you can make another and another and so on. It is, of course, a near impossible dream since printing microchip controllers and metal supports is beyond the ability of most 3D printers, but Gada wanted to encourage enthusiasts to continue working towards the goal.

In 2009, Gada issued a challenge to the maker world: whoever does the best work in designing a 3D printer that’s easier to build than existing models and can print more of its own parts can enter The Uplift Prize and stand a chance of winning a cash prize.

Four years later in 2013, South Africa’s own Morgan 3D Printers, who we met at Leaderex last month, won the Interim Personal Manufacturing Prize and $20 000.

Help needed, apply within

The second stage of the competition and the awarding of the Grand Personal Manufacturing Prize are set to take place during November and December, but there appears to be a spanner in the works: the Gada Foundation needs funding for the Uplift Prize money.

It needs $80 000 (just over a million rand), and it wants you to help.

The Gada Foundation has started an Indiegogo campaign to generate the funds need for the prize money. You are able to make donations of any amount from $1 through to $10 000 which will allow you to actually judge the competition entries in December.

The campaign needs all the help it can get, as it has raised just $22 in the nine days it has been active so far. Fortunately there are still 31 days to go so there’s still time to create some momentum.

But even if you can’t donate cash towards the prize, you can still help: The Uplift Prize needs assistance in other areas like improving the website, the introductory video and social media management, so if you have those sorts of skills and are up to giving of your free time you can still pitch in. To do that you’ll need to contact the people behind the campaign by dropping them a line through its IndieGoGo page.

We hope to see this project get fully funded, and can’t wait to see what interesting concepts are born from the competition.