Rhodes>Community Engagement>Social Innovation

Bridging the digital and social divide with innovation!

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Social innovators, changemakers and community partners need a space to network, explore skills development opportunities, share experiences and access technologies in order to strengthen their community development projects and to stimulate cohesion between different communities and stakeholders. The Social Innovation Hub is that space, aiming to ensure city-wide access to technologies and tools to build cohesive and innovative communities.  


The Social Innovation Hub is Community Engagement's public digital resource center with the goal of bridging the digital divide and improving social cohesion in our community using innovative digital methods. The Social Innovation Hub runs training programmes covering a range of digital media and computer skills, and also facilitates access to basic technologies such as computers and tablets, to the Makana community at no cost. Ensuring city-wide access to digital equipment and internet is a priority for the Hub and this involves a mobile lab which can be set up temporarily at any location. The Social Innovation Hub uses these digital resources to provide support for social innovators in the form of practical tools, platforms and psychosocial healing. 

Partnerships is key to acheiving our goal so we have semi-fixed labs set up in Joza, in the Youth Hub and at the Assumption Development Center. 


Where we started: Common Good First

The Social Innovation Hub was born in 2019 from a collaboration between European institutions and South African universities. In 2016, a project led by Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland was given a grant from the European Union to create a network of people and groups trying to make a difference in their communities.

These social innovators were identified, initially, in South Africa and then across the world, to form a platform which would showcase their projects to each other, to universities and to potential sponsors and  funders. The initiative is called Common Good First and it has partners from twelve higher education institutions from Europe and South Africa. This group has delivered a website - commongoodfirst.com - which hosts a growing network of social impact projects using easy-to-complete profiles in the style of Facebook or LinkedIn sites. These are created by the social innovators themselves after a process of digital skills development and feature text, images and digital stories about their projects. In some instances, universities work with community partners to create digital stories, using this specially-developed module to help groups take part in digital story circles.

Our goal is that this project will facilitate an equal voice for all storytellers and encourage us to engage with each other’s narratives and initiatives. In this way, we can work together to create a more just and prosperous society. As an essential step in making this a reality, Rhodes University, one of five South African universities involved in the Common Good First project, launched its Social Innovation Hub through its Community Engagement Division. The Hub runs digital storytelling workshops to equip innovators with the skills required to engage meaningfully with the platform. By creating digital stories, innovators can undergo a process of healing and share their stories in a relatable way.

More information and documents here:


Contact information: 

Links to use all our services: linktr.ee/socialinnovationhub.ru

Programme Coordinator: Thandiwe Matyobeni - t.matyobeni@ru.ac.za or 046 603 7227


Last Modified: Tue, 03 May 2022 09:17:46 SAST