Pascale Henke is the South African originator of the Brownie Points platform which launched in 2016.
She came up with the idea in response to the desire she and many in her surrounding community had to participate in charitable volunteer activities and experience the benefits of that participation – such as upliftment of the community overall, as well as improving their own self-worth and mood – while still earning a living.
To successfully balance those outcomes, the Brownie Points system builds a network of non-profit and community organisations, businesses, and people – and utilises it to reward good-doers and volunteers with “brownie points”, a social currency that can be redeemed for rewards.
The unique system was promptly recognised after its launch through being one of the top 10 finalists in the Global Impact Competition hosted by Rand Merchant Bank and Singularity University, as well as making it through to the Web Summit in Portugal in the Philanthropy & Social Good category.
Subsequently, the Brownie Points platform was part of the first cohort to be accelerated in the Startupbootcamp AfriTech programme, enabling Pascale and her team to connect with industry mentors and run pilot projects with companies like Woolworths Financial Services and RCS.
A notable community impact for Pascale was through Brownie Points’ pilot project with the Shoprite Group of Companies, where their Africa’s Biggest Cleanup and World Cleanup Day collaboration saw over 15 000 people collect 31 tons of trash across 12 African countries.
Brownie Points experienced a platform and branding revamp this year, and is currently directed towards tracking more than a million good deeds by next year (2020). Pascale says they are also working on a “social economy” concept where people can access basic services in exchange for their volunteering.
To keep the platform and the communities it serves thriving through innovation Pascale adopts a “childlike approach” – where thought experiments are constantly entertained in a playful manner, harnessing natural curiosity to find new ways to join the dots between individual and group experiences. She then makes sure the fresh ideas generated are customised to the exact needs of communities through close listening – with a big helping of empathy.
Pascale’s ambitions for the next five years are not small; she seeks to revolutionise the ability for anybody to assist their neighbours, the greater community, and the environment itself while being able to access basics for the 21st century, such as food, data, education, and health services. Putting that balance within reach of everybody, not just a select few, is the fundamental motivation carrying her forward.
To those close to home who share her ambitions, Pascale points out that Africa will experience the most growth in the world in the coming years and account for more than half of the global population increase by 2050. Africans, no matter what their skin colour or background, have a unique way of looking at things – especially because of their strenuous past.
She feels that using that special world view to make Africa and beyond a better place for everyone is the biggest adventure we will ever embark on.