The last days predicted by modern-day Mayans failed to arrive on schedule. “In fact, the risks we all face as we go into 2013 are much more complex, and thus much more difficult to counter,” says Michael Davies, CEO of ContinuitySA.
“It is almost impossible to consider individual risks without taking the overall risk into consideration,” Davies observes. “Globalisation and the profound connectedness between individuals, companies and countries promoted by technology means that risk, too, must be seen broadly.”
Davies and members of his executive team have identified six business risks for 2013.
1. Social malfunction grows. Across the world, it is increasingly clear that established certainties and beliefs about how the world is structured are becoming fluid. There is an overall loss of faith in society’s institutions and their ability to deliver a just world order.
In South Africa, persistent dissatisfaction with service delivery has exploded into widespread and violent protests against the very nature of the system. The miners’ revolt in Marikana has been a watershed event, as it bypassed both the settlements negotiated by the miners’ own representatives and the normal processes of democracy. Democratic process, it seems, is either profoundly misunderstood or mistrusted.
This impatience with society’s existing institutions and processes appears to be spreading and there are worrying signs that even the middle class, on whose shoulders society’s prosperity and stability ultimately depend, are also losing faith in basic concepts.
The extreme passions roused by the ongoing e-toll saga in Gauteng is an obvious example of this trend. For the middle classes, this type of feeling generally translates into a reluctance to pay tax, an action that can fatally undermine the state itself.
2. Global economic and financial volatility. It appears that the 2008 financial crisis is both more far-reaching and profound than first expected. Markets and economies seem unable to regain an even keel, and many commentators are seeing this volatility as “the new normal”. The flipside is an increasing regulatory burden as governments and other institutions attempt to rein in uncontrolled capitalism and protect investors.
For South African businesses, important associated risks are the volatility of commodity prices, greater competition internally and in export markets, and an unstable currency.
3. Environmental risk. If volatility is the new economic normal, then there is every indication that climatic volatility is also becoming a feature of life. For South Africa, climate fluctuations may be expected to increase the risk of water and even food shortages.
Thus far, global and national environmental initiatives are gaining traction too slowly, and seem likely to add to the cost of doing business in the short term—giving rise to a classic case of how to balance short- and long-term risk.
4. Infrastructural risk. A common African business risk is inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure. Water and power are the two obvious risks that threaten business, but the road and rail networks also present challenges.
Government efforts to address these problems are affected by the principle of interconnectedness: opposition to e-tolling, one feels, is more influenced by wider dissatisfactions rather than the principle of “user pays”.
Many South African businesses are taking extraordinary measures to mitigate infrastructural risks by assuming responsibility for all or some of the infrastructure needed for their projects. Property developers, for example, are often providing roads and sewerage, and factories some of their own energy—and think of corporate involvement in points people to ameliorate the effects of faulty traffic lights and schemes to fill in potholes.
5. Data risk. Data is becoming more important as a way for companies to assess risk and compete more effectively—this is the phenomenon of Big Data. It’s probably true to say that most companies are still coming to terms with the concept and, more importantly, how to use data effectively.
Nonetheless, data privacy regulations have already sprung up to protect personal data, creating a set of risks relating to data security. One is the growing menace of cybercrime. Another is the whole question of data sovereignty—as companies try to safeguard their data while reducing costs, they may opt for the security of cloud solutions.
However, when those data centres are located and/or owned offshore, it becomes difficult to be sure of data security and accountability for lapses.
An associated risk is the peaking trend of IT consumerisation, so-called BYOD (bring your own device—the use of private mobile devices to access corporate data). BYOD offers both advantages and disadvantages: boards and their CIOs need to think carefully about how to protect their data against potential threats—and how to use the available technology wisely to obtain a competitive advantage.
6. Business continuity remains misunderstood. Risk management has definitely become integrated into the corporate agenda, and is maturing. This may be seen by the replacement of the existing BS25999 standard by ISO22301.
The BS25999 standard set the standard for business continuity management, but the new ISO223301 standard is much more detailed in its requirements, and requires much more documentation of the processes followed. It also requires committed board-level leadership, thus effectively putting risk management into the spotlight.
However, in practical terms, the broader concept of business continuity management is becoming absorbed into the IT budget, with a concurrent diminishing of focus on operational matters. At the same time, budgets in general are under pressure.
“Ironically, then, the biggest overall risk has become corporate myopia about the true nature of risk—and this at a time when risk has become much more integrated into corporate strategy. Boards must resist seeing risk in terms of technology alone. Business continuity is a much more useful concept, one that takes into account the interconnectedness of risk today. When considering risk, business leaders need to take a broad view of organisational resilience before honing in on their particular company’s situation,” Davies concludes. “Risk is now systemic, and so the approach to risk must also be systemic and have operational relevance to the organisation.”
Obama Calls On The World To Be Madiba’s Legacy
Welcoming assembled guests to the lecture, Nelson Mandela Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang said, “It’s a very exciting moment for us.”
Former US President Barack Obama delivered the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation, in Johannesburg on Tuesday 17 July.
To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth, the lecture’s theme was “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. It focused on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality.
Welcoming assembled guests to the lecture, Nelson Mandela Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang said, “It’s a very exciting moment for us.”
The 15 000-strong crowd was addressed by programme director Busi Mkhumbuzi, Foundation Chairperson Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Motsepe Foundation founder and CEO Dr Patrice Motsepe, activist and Madiba’s widow, Ms Graça Machel, and President Cyril Ramaphosa before Obama spoke.
Ndebele said the world had welcomed Obama’s election to the US Presidency in 2008 and that he had inspired universal belief in human unity.
Motsepe, addressing the crowd, said, “The presence of each and every one here is living proof that the legacy and spirit of Nelson Mandela is alive.”
Machel, Mandela’s widow, said Madiba’s centenary was an opportunity to celebrate him “in all his incredible uniqueness”, and also to celebrate him as a representative of a broader collective leadership that had led South Africa and South Africans to freedom.
Machel called on young people to take inspiration from Mandela’s life so that they create a world in which all live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Ramaphosa said the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, from the very beginning, had been “global in its ambition, and broad and inclusive in its outreach”.
Ramaphosa said that his “Thuma Mina” (send me) message was “none other than Mandela’s message” of personal service: “Madiba … is sending all of us to deal with corruption, and to root it out of South African soil.”
Obama said: “Madiba’s light shone so brightly … that in the late seventies he could inspire a young college student on the other side of the world to re-examine my own priorities – to reconsider the small role that I might play in bending the arc towards justice.
“And now an entire generation has now grown up in a world that by most measures has gotten steadily freer, healthier, wealthier, less violent and more tolerant during the course of their lifetimes. It should make us hopeful.
“Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision, I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King. I believe in justice and in the premise that all of us are created equal.”
In his speech Obama tracked the enormous social and democratic progress the world has made in the 100 years between Mandela’s 1918 birth and 2018.
Obama went on to outline how the world has changed from one just emerging from a devastating war and in which most of what is now the developing world was under colonial rule. Women, across the world, were seen as subordinate to men, some races were seen – almost universally – as naturally subordinate and inferior to others, and business saw nothing wrong in seeking to exploit workers, of any race or creed.
Since then colonialism had come to an end and the world had, in general, embraced a new vision for humanity, based on the principles of democracy, the rule of law, civil rights and the inherent dignity of every single individual, Obama said.
This kind of progress was the kind of progress to which Mandela had dedicated his life, Obama said.
“Now an entire generation has grown up a world that has become freer, healthier, wealthier and more tolerant, in the course of their lifetime. That should make us hopeful.”
But, Obama cautioned, now the world stood on the brink of letting go of all this progress.
Some people, world-over, saw the politics of fear and resentment as preferable to the “messiness of democracy”, Obama said.
The former US President said, however, that he still believed in the vision of Nelson Mandela.
“I believe we have no choice but to move forward,” Obama said. “I believe those of us who believe in democracy and human rights have a better story to tell.”
Obama called for the empowerment of young people, who would lead us into the future.
What NPOs Wish Corporates Knew Before Mandela Day
Joanne van der Walt, Global Director: Sage Foundation Promotions provides a roundup of the best advice to corporates from NPOs.
“It was 2pm on Mandela Day at the after-care centre. The children were getting ready to go home when suddenly, 80 volunteers from a large local bank arrived, unannounced. We didn’t know who they were, but they wanted to use their 67 minutes with to volunteer with us. We appreciated the effort, but we had to turn them away, partly because the children were overwhelmed by the many unfamiliar faces, but mostly because we had no time to prepare the volunteers or the children.”
I’ve heard variations of this story from most of the NPOs we work with at Sage Foundation. The common thread is that, while highly appreciated, NPOs feel that Mandela Day activities could have a much bigger impact if they were better planned.
Planning to fail
In a recent poll of over 200 NPOs, we asked them what their biggest challenge was when it came to working with corporates on Mandela Day: 73% cited a lack of planning and failure to include them in the decision-making for the day.
Related: 5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba
Their second-biggest challenge, cited by 24% of NPOs, was that too many volunteers show up. So, not only do NPOs not know what to expect, but it can feel like an onslaught, despite the good intentions.
When asked what they enjoyed most about Mandela Day, 50% of NPOs said exposure and 34% said engagement with the volunteers.
Yet, because of the planning oversight, Mandela Day tends to be a rushed affair, leaving little time to build relationships or raise awareness about the NPOs’ work, which is what CSR is all about.
Advice from NPOs
So, we asked NPOs how we can do Mandela Day better and what they wished corporates knew about their needs – 36% of NPOs felt that a little education could go a long way.
Here’s a roundup of their best advice:
‘Include us in the planning’. Meet with your chosen NPO well in advance (weeks, even months before) to discuss their needs and plan the day. Mandela Day can be disruptive, and NPOs, especially those caring for children and the sick and elderly, need time to plan and allocate their own resources.
‘Help us get exposure’. Exposure is massive for NPOs and is often the biggest benefit of Mandela Day because it can attract new donors and support. Yet, often, it’s the corporates that get all the publicity. When charity initiatives are rushed or planned at the last minute, there’s no time to create awareness on social media, which often gets more corporates interested in what they do.
‘Treat us how you would a client or business partner’. Don’t cancel Mandela Day activities at the last minute, show up unannounced or not pitch at all. You’re their guest and they feel a lot of pressure to make Mandela Day a good experience for you, too. This is especially hard for smaller NPOs, so please respect their time and space. And please clean up before you leave.
‘Engage with us’. 58% of NPOs say the company of the volunteers is their favourite part about Mandela Day. Take photos but remember to put the phones away and interact with them. This way, you’ll get a better understanding of what they do and what they need.
This ‘Helper’s High’ goes both ways. One Harvard study found that people who volunteer are 42% happier than those who don’t. Another study found that volunteers were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteer, reporting greater increases in psychological wellbeing and physical activity.
‘Slow down’. Corporates squeeze a lot into Mandela Day and, while NPOs love every minute, it often feels rushed and overwhelming. NPOs love demonstrating what they do and the difference they make but there’s often no time on the day to demonstrate this. Also, 67 minutes or even one day once a year is not enough to learn about their needs and make a significant impact but it’s a good starting point, as long as you remember to do it.
‘Come back soon’. 45% of NPOs said they never hear from the corporates again after Mandela Day. To get the most out of their CSR initiatives and to make measurable, long-term impact, corporates should form partnerships with their chosen NPOs and provide support throughout the year.
South African organisations spent over R9 billion on corporate social investment in the 2016/17 financial year – a massive increase from the R1.5 billion spent 20 years ago.
For those that haven’t had a chance to properly plan their activities for Mandela Day this year, NPOs reminded us that financial support is often better than a frenzied one-day event that leaves a big mess and has no real impact. One NPO had to hire a contractor after Mandela Day to repaint a wall that well-meaning volunteers had left in a worse state than before.
Before doing anything, consider Mandela Day from the NPO’s perspective: ask for permission, give them what they need, and respect their time and space.
10 African Innovators Selected For Global Accelerator Startupbootcamp Afritech
Startupbootcamp AfriTech empowers the top innovative African tech startups, linking them to the fastest-moving corporates on the continent.
Startupbootcamp (SBC) AfriTech today announced the Top 10 African Innovators selected to participate in the globally renowned, multi-corporate backed accelerator programme for 2018.
Post an intensive 3-month global scouting tour, across 15 countries, and inclusive of 19 FastTrack events and 220 face-to-face startup engagements, the SBC AfriTech team received 1,004 applications from 73 countries in total, attracting double the applications from its inaugural launch in 2017.
The applications were shortlisted to the top 22 startup teams that were flown down to pitch their businesses over 2-days to some of the most progressive leaders in the innovation space in Africa, including corporate sponsors, mentors and investors.
The SBC AfriTech programme (previously SBC Africa) ended on a record high in 2017 with 32 corporate agreements in pilots and proof-of-concepts signed by close of the accelerator.
“Our inaugural year was big, it was bold,” comments Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of SBC AfriTech, “Our phenomenal success of last year has made us the only truly global accelerator for tech ventures in partnership with dynamic corporates on the African continent – we are accelerating the next wave of innovation in Africa.”
The top 10 African Innovators selected are:
- Akiba Digital, South Africa: A financial savings platform and personal savings coach that leverages A.I., machine learning and gamification to democratize wealth in Africa.
- Bankly Technologies, Nigeria: A goal-based savings product that digitizes cash and enables in-country, peer-to-peer transfer services through the use of vouchers available nationwide.
- Brandbook Analytics, South Africa: A mobile application providing users free gift-card coupons for completed purchases with the ability to harvest vast amounts of consumer data and improved forecasting and analytics.
- CredPal, Nigeria: An innovative solution using deep data that provides individuals with instant access to credit at the point of checkout for various online and offline merchants.
- Digitech Group, Ivory Coast: Provides incumbent insurance companies an omni-channel and cloud-based digital platform to sell insurance products through mobile and web.
- Inclusive Financial Technologies, Ghana: Inclusive FT’s API helps digital financial services reach the most remote customers across Africa by enabling them to onboard, verify and monitor them via digital channels.
- Kudimoney Bank, Nigeria: A no-charge, full-service, online-only bank making banking services more affordable and more accessible by offering an interest-earning spending account with zero charges, a savings account with above-average interest rates and access to low interest instant loans.
- Lüla, South Africa: A mobility-as-a-service platform that connects stakeholders to improve mobility by providing transport that is convenient, accessible and safe and enabling operators, cities and passengers to have easy access and understanding of transport.
- MPost, Kenya: A patented solution providing legally recognised physical addresses for the 95% of the African population that do not have a postal address.
- Prospa, South Africa: A micro-savings solution for low-income earning South Africans, allowing users to purchase savings vouchers at traders that entitle the user to a set amount of savings which are deposited into a mobi-savings account.
The 10 selected tech startups have a month to ready themselves for the 3-month accelerator that will kick off on August 13th in Cape Town and culminate with the Demo Day on November 8th when they will pitch to the world.
To the Top 10, Philip Kiracofe says: “You are here because your solution is market-ready and the sponsors want to work with you starting from today. The next 3 months are going to be absolutely exhilarating. We are going to be here side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, pushing you, cajoling you, encouraging you, nurturing you, mentoring you and helping you achieve 12 – 18 months’ worth of growth in a 3-month span. On Demo Day you’re not going to believe that just 3 months ago you were standing where you are today. Congratulations and good luck.”
SBC AfriTech is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Old Mutual, Nedbank and PwC. The programme also has local service partners Brevity Law, Cloudworx, Inner City Ideas Cartel, and The Loudhailer and is globally supported by Google Cloud, Cisco and Amazon Web Services.
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