Staffwise and ORT Jet Cape Town Shining Light Awards

(L) Hazel Levin and Gina Winkler of JCS Tikvah Foodbank (R) Ben Getz of Urban Harvest Edible Gardens with Dvorah Stein, Shifrah Getz and Jenny Perkel

What started with a chance encounter at a drive-through coffee shop in Sea Point and a phone call to Staffwise and ORT Jet Cape Town in July 2020, has resulted in the Shining Light Awards which is a beautiful showcase of the creativity and innovation that exists in the Cape Town Jewish Community.

The first year

2020 should have been an epic year. But Covid-19 shifted our world in a way no-one could have anticipated. Businesses closed, jobs were lost, people had to dig deep to find their edge both personally and professionally. In the midst of a very challenging year, local entrepreneur Richard Goldstein approached Staffwise about shedding a ray of light on our community.

Those businesses that reached the 2020 finals of the Shining Light Awards adapted, evolved, or simply made positive adjustments to keep their businesses afloat. “[The competition] was envisaged to shine a light on you, the brave entrepreneur who stared Covid down… I salute your courage and your creativity, it is really a shining light in a world gone dark,” Richard addressed the finalists.

That first year was somewhat different to this year’s celebration. The awards ceremony had to be broadcast via Zoom, the logistics of hosting an online event had to be navigated, hosting some people in-person, masks on, masks off, sanitising and stressing. But some of these very challenges are what delivered the finalists.

Four businesses blew away the judges with their resilience and creativity. The winner was Ajay Apparel, who had gone from making uniforms and corporate apparel to making masks, keeping their factories open and people employed. Second place went to V-Travel, as Vanessa Frankel worked frantically to repatriate travellers and have them safely returned home at a time when flights were grounded and borders closed. Health Island’s vending machine business saw healthy snacks being delivered as care packages by employers, between families and friends. The Viewer’s Choice award went to a drive-through coffee bar, Coffeeright – the same coffee shop that sparked the initial idea for the Shining Light Awards.

2021 – the second year

A year later the dynamic had shifted. Covid was still hanging in the background, but Staffwise and ORT Jet Cape Town were able to host a hybrid event. This time the focus was on sustainability, a buzzword of the time. For the 2021 competition, the focus was narrowed to businesses that were sustainable in terms of people, profit, and purpose. Avi Levy, one of the judges, explained to the businesses, “Sustainability is really important. Businesses with motivated employees and a unified sense of purpose are much more likely to build a sustainable growing business in the long run.”

Applications rolled in from a wide range of businesses addressing education and employment, fashion, finance, food, marketing, monitoring and evaluation, HR and recruitment, each one displaying a unique and sustainable edge.

All of them were celebrated but it was The Knowledge Trust, through its employment initiatives and partnerships, that won the hearts of the judges. Sarah Feldman followed closely with her focus on delivering fashion-forward designs while empowering local artisans in the manufacturing of her bags, clothes, and shoes. She also took home the Viewers’ Choice award.

2022 – the voice of the community

In 2022, the voice of the community was heard – it asked for community organisations and NPOs to be included, as they are also ‘shining lights’ in our community. The time had come to evolve and open that door. Although most entrants were businesses, there were some undeniable shining lights in the non-profit sector. So, 2022 shone the light on one business and one NPO.

This year the question to all entrants was simple – why they think they are a shining light in the community. Those that shone out were Buddy Active, Fundi, i11, The Falafel Guy, Urban Harvest, Zero BS, Eliot Osrin Leadership institute, Basic Concepts and JSC Tikvah Foodbank.

Although all these businesses are winners, all lighting the way forward in their own right, it was Urban Harvest and its MD Ben Getz who found themselves in the spotlight as they walked away on the final night with prizes valued at R95 000.

Urban Harvest designs, builds and manages organic food gardens for homes, offices, hotels and community projects. These gardens produce beautiful spaces, fresh food, jobs, and skills for under-resourced communities. Highlighting an aspect close to his heart, Ben says that Urban Harvest is about empowering people to grow their own food at home and at school. It is 100% organic, packaging-free and chemical-free, and to date the business has installed 450 gardens.

The winning NPO was the JCS Tikvah Foodbank. Run by Gina Winkler under the JCS directorship of Hazel Levin, the needs in the community that the project fills were clearly spelled out to all in the audience, bringing tears to many. The JCS Tikvah Foodbank also walked away with prizes valued at R95 000.

Back Row (l/r): Caroline Kaimowitz (Staffwise), Viv Anstey (The Eliot Osrin Leadership Institute), Hillel Chemel (Fundi), Warren Wilensky and Yael Shapiro (Zero BS Cosmetics), Lisa Sandler (ORT Jet Cape Town), Hazel Levin (The JCS Tikvah Foodbank), Nadine Warner (Buddy Active), Liat Beinart (Staffwise)   Front Row (l/r): Ben Getz (Urban Harvest Edible Gardens), Louis Benjamin (The Basic Concepts Foundation), David Gabay (The Falafel Guy) , Gina Winkler (The JCS Tikvah Foodbank).

Staffwise, call 0214646764 or email

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