Fred Roed, the Heavy Chef CEO

What are the reasons for innovation in any business niche? Growing competition, or maybe a new breakout product or service, is needed to shake things up a bit. Maybe consumer needs have changed over time or, post-pandemic, your own strategic partners need to be marketed in a radically evolved manner to stay in the limelight.

Here is a look at several local brands, designers and thinkers that are leading the way in reimagining the future.

Reimagining new ideas and possibilities

Radical changes in an existing industry or market due to technological innovation are very much alive. Some of the new revolutionaries include Uber and how it transformed the taxi industry, or Airbnb’s remake of hospitality.

The new term for these revolutionaries is “reimaginers”, and the brands doing it are emerging as champions in their niches because of the way in which they are co-creating new ideas and possibilities that contribute towards a more inclusive, sustainable and ethical future.

Examples of new developing companies

Yoco, an African technology company, builds business tools and financial services for entrepreneurs. “We’re making payments accessible for small businesses – often for the first time,” the company states.

Lalaland, an Amsterdam-based tech start-up, with company co-founder Michael Musandu (born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa), develops hyper realistic, artificial intelligence (AI) driven virtual fashion models for e-commerce platforms. Online consumers can select a model that fits their size, age and skin shade to get a better idea of how a garment will look on them.

Lalaland develops hyper realistic, AI-driven virtual fashion models for e-commerce platforms

Then there is Fred Roed, the Heavy Chef chief executive officer, who calls on the local entrepreneur ecosystem each year to nominate its finest start-ups. “Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we shine a light on our local start-up community,” he says.

There are ground-breaking innovations being implemented by South Africa’s top five most exciting start-ups of 2022, which include:, an AI-powered chatbot to help financial service providers acquire and retain customers; Kusini Water, which makes water purification and distribution systems from locally sourced materials to supply clean drinking water to needy communities; Livestock Wealth, which connects investors with farmers who require funding by using cattle as a form of investment; Valenture Institute, which offers its students a rich academic learning experience both online and on campus; and lastly, Walk Fresh, a boutique sneaker-cleaning start-up that trains young kids in townships to run such businesses themselves.

Thinking outside the box

The newly relaunched Decorex Africa is also thinking outside the box. “Being at the forefront of décor, design and lifestyle over almost three decades, we employed the power of curation and combined high-value content with hardworking mechanics to transform ourselves from an exhibitor into a hybrid marketplace and growth accelerator,” enthuses curator Bielle Bellingham.

The V&A Waterfront’s multiple award-winning festive season campaign, Joy from Africa to the World, makes African creativity the hero over the summer and does away with fake snow. A reimagining of conventional festive season fare to showcase its African roots instead resulted in celebrating local design and sustainability in new ways.

Reimagination is a key survival tactic, and its brands will follow similar trajectories, as they reimagine themselves to remain relevant in the shifting post-pandemic world that has embraced collaboration and physical/digital hybridity as the new state of being.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to for the information in this editorial.

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