Engen fuels 35 artists to transform a spaza shop by being creative

Running from March to June 2019, the ‘Design 35 Community Challenge’ offers 35 aspiring artists, illustrators and designers a spaza shop as a ‘blank’ canvas. The opportunity is for each artist to transform a spaza shop with their creativity and flair. The top three artists, as judged by an independent panel, will each win a one-year bursary to a leading South African design or art school.

“At Engen, we believe creativity has the potential to change one’s life journey and this year we are excited to offer this opportunity to 35 local artists in South Africa,” says Bulela Mkandawire, Brand & Sponsorship Manager at Engen. “The campaign is aimed at discovering raw local talent, uplifting the winners to propel their dreams or careers, while also transforming 35 spaza shops within communities that need the exposure and upliftment.”

Engen’s social investment spans maths and science education, paraffin safety and health and wellness initiatives. The petroleum giant is also committed to developing sports stars through its various sports sponsorship activities.

“We never stop looking for meaningful ways to show we care, in something as simple as a media opportunity we have found a way to uplift not only the spaza shop owner as a media owner, but the community the spaza shop serves,” adds Mkandawire. “We believe these areas are amongst those that are in most need of opportunities, support and exposure to formal trades.”

How the Challenge Works:

  • Visual artists are required to submit an example of their artwork with a short bio online at:
  • Entries will be judged by a committee of 11 influential people across arts, entertainment, advertising and artistic institutions, and the top 100 will be chosen.
  • A brief will be sent to the top 100 entrants to design their spaza shop.
  • The judges will vote on 35 Finalists from the 100 selected entrants.
  • The final 35 chosen designs will be rolled out across spaza shops in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZula-Natal.
  • Voting will take place to determine the top 3 artists who will each be awarded a one-year bursary to a leading SA design or art school.

“The mechanic is simple – artists who want the opportunity to participate should share a piece of their artwork via the website,, and if they are chosen as one of the 100 finalists they will be briefed by our advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi to develop a one-of-a-kind artwork,” explains Mkandawire. “The top 35 designs will be applied to one of the spaza shops identified and the judges will then determine who the top three winners are who will each be awarded a one-year bursary.”

According to Mkandawire, the ’35 Community Challenge’ is an extension of the overall “Engen Cares” ethos, which endeavours to support communities in order to enhance people’s lives in a meaningful way. “Supporting and uplifting our communities is one of the most important things we do at Engen. As a company, we are committed to making a difference in the lives of everyday South Africans, while helping to build a nation we can all be proud of.”

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