Jonathan McKenzie


Chief Innovation Officer: ZAlution


"Digital Innovation - Inspiring change through interaction"


South Africa faces a plethora of problematic situations that have a negative and regressive impact on our people, environment and economy. ZAlution is a social innovation business incubator that believes technology can solve the social, environmental and educational problems we face. By focusing on simple human truths and key drivers of change, including poverty, educational development, environmental degradation, healthcare and urbanization, purposeful digital solutions can be developed. Digital innovative has the ability to reach into tomorrow, regardless of where we are today and be a change agent for communities and drive sustainable profit margins ZAlution believes it's not just about predicting what's next, it’s about working collaboratively to Co-Explore, Co-Discover and Co-Create ideas for the most valuable asset of all, our people.


“I’m a globally awarded entrepreneur who takes a technology-based, human-centric approach to co-creating new products, services and branded experiences that help businesses and communities innovate and grow. I’m fascinated with how people engage with new technology and how this drives business, markets and social opportunities. Over the last 15 years I’ve lived and worked in some the world’s major cities including London, New York, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing. I found my way to the digital innovation space after spending the early part of my career bridging the digital divided as a Executive Creative Director for some of the worlds leading marketing communication companies. In 2012 I returned to South Africa and founded a Social Innovation consultancy that believes technology solutions can uplift the lives of people and unite communities. Some of the digital platforms I’ve help co-found include A mobile based private social network that connects neighbors in order to strengthen communities. My work has been recognized by the likes of Google, Fast Company, CNN, Facebook and the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.“


Why do you want to be part of UCT Upstarts? “There’s an African proverb that says : If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together. UCT Upstarts represents a unique opportunity for me. Not only do I get to walk together with some of the most talented minds in our country. I also get to hold their hands and provide them with some focused direction that hopefully will inspire them to go far.”

HOW DO YOU ‘IMAGINE A NEW AFRICA’? “Steve Biko once said: "The great powers of the world may have done wonders in giving the world an industrial and military look, but the great gift has to come from Africa-giving the world a more human face.” Technology is the great enabler that breaks down social, cultural and economic barriers. In Africa mobile technology is used to provide information on health, education, finances or to access specific groups such as the youth. You can glimpse the future in certain parts of Africa where children are learning to read on tablets, and 55 million Africans are using mobile phones to settle debts, take out insurance policies and make payments. It’s become a testing ground for breakthrough ideas, innovative products, and disruptive startups. I imagine that technology will unite Africans and enable it’s more “human face” to flourish and drive change.”