Vollar is solving one of the biggest challenges of corporate social investment

Corporates and NPOs are dramatically improving engagement with their CSI programmes thanks to Vollar’s new digital incentive currency.


The biggest challenge facing corporate social investment (CSI) in South Africa often isn’t funding – it’s engagement. Budgets are planned around expected or initial engagement with a programme, only to run into unexpected participant drop-off, with the result being that funding that could be put to good use is misallocated or wasted. 


LaunchLab-based start-up Vollar is tackling this head-on, helping corporates and NPOs design and deliver safe incentives that improve engagement and ensure money goes where it’s intended, all built around their new digital incentive currency, the vollar.


Designing smart incentives that work


The Balwin Foundation is a great example of how Vollar is being implemented. It runs free training initiatives for local communities, the latest of which is a three-week entrepreneurship course to encourage SME creation in low-income communities. Due to the drop-off rate in attendance over time, they were over-catering and wasting both food and money. Vollar stepped in to convert their catering budget into vollars, allowing course attendees to buy their own food at local SMEs – giving them freedom to choose their own food options (or use it for other essentials, like airtime and electricity) while supporting local businesses and eliminating waste in the catering budget. 


Vollar then helped The Balwin Foundation to design a broader vollar-based incentive structure to improve attendance, offering incentives for completing discrete tasks – such as bringing your ID book, or completing homework – that were small by themselves, but added up to a meaningful amount over the course of the programme. By rewarding participants on a regular basis and contributing to their sense of accomplishment, The Balwin Foundation has seen participant retention improve by 50% compared to the previous time the course was run. 

Creating a ‘safe’ incentive


Vollar is also addressing the persistent problem of incentive regulation. Cash incentives are notoriously troublesome because of their potential for abuse, thereby undermining the goal of CSI. As a stable digital incentive currency pegged at 1:1 to the South African Rand and backed by fiat currency, vollars also offer a dramatic improvement over vouchers, which can easily be traded for cash. By contrast, vollars earned by one individual can’t be transferred to another individual, significantly limiting the moral hazard involved in earning and distributing incentives.


Kyle Ueckermann, Founder and CEO of Vollar explained Vollar’s appeal to both corporates and incentive recipients: “Vollar is not designed to replace wages or stipends, but rather as a digital incentive layer that can be quickly and easily integrated into any CSI programme. Not only is it really easy to use, but because it’s digital we’re able to gather additional demographic information and track how vollars are being spent, both of which can help CSI initiatives measure their impact. On top of this, Vollar is able to help our corporate partners design incentives using proven techniques that we know improve engagement and compliance.”


Vollar is currently targeting CSI programmes involving education and/or compliance with a regimen, both of which are very responsive to incentives. “We’ve been very fortunate to be part of the LaunchLab community,” added Ueckermann, “It’s been instrumental in helping us forge connections with early partners, and meeting organisations we wouldn’t even be aware of otherwise. We’re very excited to add new partners and make Vollar the go-to platform for creating and managing incentives across a range of use cases.”


Vollar’s mentor at LaunchLab, Danie Maritz has been instrumental in opening a number of doors to other connections as well as providing advice. They were also a finalist in the LaunchLab and Santam Safety Ideas Challenge in March 2019, and as a result will be running a pilot programme with Santam, one of South Africa’s largest insurers. 


Find out more about LaunchLab and how we facilitate valuable connections between startups and corporate clients: https://launchlab.co.za/


To find out more about Vollar, please get in touch with Kyle Ueckermann: kyle@vollar.org.