A year after: one perspective from the ground

I passed a few games at the 2010 World Cup with my friend Andrew Bonfiglio; we even shared the experience of trying to leave Soccer City after the opening match between South Africa and Mexico.  Andrew  has lived in South Africa since the World Cup kicked off a year ago and he was kind enough to provide his perspective on the last year in the country, post World Cup fever.  Thanks Andrew!

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By Andrew Bonfiglio

A few weeks ago now, June 11, 2011 marked the 1 year anniversary of the World Cup’s first match on the African continent as South Africa took on Mexico in the opening game Soccer City (now Nedbank stadium) . For me, it was very nostalgic. Just one year ago, after moving to South Africa only 6 weeks prior to this momentous occasion, I woke up at 7am planning on doing some work in the morning in time to watch the game in the afternoon. To my surprise, a journalist friend of mine called me about 7:15am and upon answering the phone, I heard, “Drew, how much do you love me?” I was thrown for a moment, but quickly responded, “It depends on what you say next.” Noah (www.noahrosenberg.com) had just scored us two tickets to the opening match. I couldn’t contain myself. We rushed around from 9am – 12:30am getting gear to wear to the match and picking up the tickets. Fifteen KM and 3 hours of traffic later we arrived at Soccer City and walked to our seats just before the opening whistle. Fifty five minutes later, South Africa’s Siphiwe Tshabalala scored the first goal of the tournament. The crowd erupted and the excitement was nothing like anything I had every felt or seen before. That set the stage for the rest of an amazing Cup and gave me my fondest memory of 2010. You couldn’t help but cheer for South Africa – both the team and the country – to have a successful tournament.

So here we are, one year later. I returned to South Africa less than three weeks ago, after a two month break back in the US, to run my company’s leadership development and social impact program (www.emzingo.com, video). The vibe was certainly different. June 11, 2011 was a bittersweet day for South Africa. For many, it was a day of mourning as Albertina Sisulu – the great anti-apartheid activist, husband of the late activist and leader Walter Sisulu, and good friend of Nelson Mandela – was buried after passing away the week before. However, Sisulu was 92 and had lived an amazing and influential life that helped shape today’s South Africa. I certainly believe the day was a celebration of her life and accomplishments more than a day to mourn and I personally believe she would have wanted the country to celebrate the anniversary of the WC and be proud of what South Africa accomplished.

And many did. SABC showed several matches as well as a World Cup special on Saturday night. Articles in the local papers and stories on the local radio stations remembered last year fondly. The majority would love to turn back time and relive the excitement of last June (which I can understand – winter is much better with the World Cup).

I don’t know if the investment SA made in stadiums, roads, additional security, etc… will give an ROI that economists would approve of, but I must say, the people I talked to and the South Africa I have seen in 2011 thinks it was worth it. My colleagues and friends are proud to be part of a nation that hosted such an exciting and successful event. They feel as if they have proven themselves. The people are more confident and believe they can compete on a global scale in just about anything. South Africa’s membership in the exclusive BRICS club and President Zuma leading the conversation about a “Cape to Cairo” trade agreement are two recent examples of how SA is continuing propel itself into the global spotlight.

For me, though, one year later, the most exciting and important outcome of the World Cup is that the people I’ve spoken to feel closer and more united as a country. South Africa has its challenges and is far from being a utopia, but I for one feel lucky to have been part of an incredible 2010 World Cup and to continue to get to know a country with so much heart and potential.

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A short video on the Emzingo program that Andrew started up in South Africa.

An Update from the Ground: Half a Year Later

My friend Adam Boros, who graciously submitted guests posts on the World Cup has done it again.  Below he provides his on-the-ground perspective on the post-World Cup South Africa, a little more than seven months following the end of the historical event.

By Adam Boros

It has been just over six months since Spain beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final in South Africa. When I am asked how the country has changed in this half-year (admittedly a very short period of time), I find it difficult to come to any sort of meaningful answer. But the nation certainly has changed.

Just across the Nelson Mandela Bridge in downtown Johannesburg, an extra size billboard is perched above the buildings, reminiscent of a welcome sign. Written over the South African flag, it says very simply, ‘Today, This is the Greatest Country in the World.’ TV commercials, radio spots and newspaper advertisements (similar to the one pictured here) like this sprouted all over South Africa in the months leading up to the tournament last year. They captured perfectly the intense patriotism and joy of the day. Now, the Joburg billboard is one of the few remaining and it speaks to both the good and the challenges of post-World Cup South Africa.

First, the challenges. Many around the world will have read that almost immediately after the final whistle blew at Soccer City, there was a nationwide public sector strike. More than a million teachers (as well as some nurses and other civil servants) marched, picketed and protested for three weeks, demanding a wage increase. The strike meant even more time out of schools for students following the scheduled (but longer than normal) five-week schools closure during the tournament. For a country where education is perhaps the biggest challenge and priority, this was problematic to say the least. In addition, the strike did untold damage to the profession of teaching in the country, as educators were depicted by the media as selfish, undisciplined and (in some cases) violent. The merits of the strike can be debated, but it cannot be denied that the promotional marketing and lavish spending related to the World Cup contributed to teachers’ belief that the ‘Greatest Country in the World’ should do better by them. With billions of Rand being spent on stadiums, new roads and other infrastructure, it did not seem overly impudent to ask for a raise.

The billboard over Johannesburg also symbolises, of course, the media and its role in the country. Unfortunately, the sign’s overtly positive message – as well as the optimistic, giddy tone of media coverage during the tournament – are now distant memories. Any hope that the beauty of that month would have a long-term effect on reporting in the country has been thoroughly dashed. The independence of South Africa’s media (which has come under some level of threat in the last six months) is one of the country’s truly wonderful elements. But the reversion to extremely biased and negative coverage of the country is disappointing. I find myself avoiding newspapers again, uninterested in reading about corruption (the latest obsession), crime and lack of service delivery. It seemed that the media was even unwilling to accept as a fantastic development the significant improvement in matric pass rates this year (given the disruptions noted above). Instead, there was an insistence that the ‘books had been cooked’ and, in essence, improved educational marks were ‘too good to be true.’ At times, one wonders if the ‘Greatest Country’ was nothing more to the media than decorative words for the sake of foreign tourists.

Fortunately, it was more than embellishment to the vast majority of South Africans. Beyond the wonderful new highways, the high-speed train that will be fully operational in the next month, the rapid bus public transport system that continues to expand throughout Johannesburg, the world-class stadiums (some of which are sadly already white elephants), the huge amounts of money generated by the tournament and the increased global respect for and interest in South Africa, the most important benefit of the tournament has been psychological.

South Africans are generally patriotic. There is something special about this country – how it symbolises forgiveness, progress, reconciliation and so much else in the world – and the people know it. The World Cup only deepened this conviction, showing the nation that it could effectively host the world with class and flavour.  But more significantly, the World Cup demonstrated to everyone who lives here what the South Africa of our dreams looks like. It is a country where crime is minimal. It is a country where black and white laugh, dance, sing and celebrate side-by-side, hand-in-hand. It is a country where most things works the way they should, when they should. And it is a country that can confront and solve its problems together, efficiently and effectively.

This is no small thing in a country with as many pressing challenges as South Africa. Poverty and unemployment levels (especially among the youth) are unsustainably high. Skills shortages continue to plague the country. The education system is deeply flawed (even with the significant increase noted above, more than 30% of grade 12 students did not pass their final exam last year). Corruption levels are increasing (although exaggerated by the media) and crime remains a huge difficulty. But now, perhaps more so than at any other time since the euphoric days of 1994, South Africans believe they can solve these problems. Of course there is still pessimism and of course there are depressing, even terrifying statistics one hears on a regular basis. But I believe that on the whole, the nation’s mindset is different. We have not only seen what can be, but have seen that we can make it happen. Ten years from now, South Africa will be a completely different country, and I believe it will be a better one. That audacious billboard hanging over Johannesburg’s skyline is just one example of how the World Cup, in both subtle and explicit ways, will play an important role in this transformation.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 83,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 4 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 27 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 126 posts. There were 21 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 15th with 1,091 views. The most popular post that day was Apparel firms to boost marketing spend during World Cup.

 

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were search.aol.com, mahalo.com, facebook.com, twitter.com, and 74.125.67.100.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for nike, nike logo, adidas, adidas logo, and budweiser.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Apparel firms to boost marketing spend during World Cup September 2009

Guest Post: A View From the Ground, After The Games Have Finished

My friend, Adam: gracious host, South African transplant (going on 5 years now), and all around awesome person, has contributed many guest posts over the last year in the build up to the World Cup. You’ll also notice him in the photo album posted earlier.  Now he has offered his thoughts on the perspective on the ground, 5-6 weeks since the games have ended.  Look to Adam to provide some additional perspective on the feeling in the country 6 months, and perhaps even a year from now. Thanks Adam! You’re the B-E-S-T best!

By Adam Boros

Johannesburg, South Africa – Despite the fact that July 11th was only five weeks ago, it seems like months since the World Cup ended. The only obvious reminders of the tournament are the odd posters that have yet to be taken down, the few cars on the road that still fly a national flag or the stragglers that stubbornly continue to rock their Bafana jersey on Fridays. At times this can be depressing – the speed with which the tournament came and left was incredible – but having been here for those 31 days was truly special. It was a month that I will never forget for as long as I live.

I moved to South Africa just a few months after the country won the right to host the World Cup. So my entire time in South Africa has, in some way, been shaped by the tournament. For six years, I watched as preparations were made. I saw the stadiums go from nothing to magnificence. I dealt with the traffic caused by the amazing amount of construction being completed. I heard the nay-sayers (both here and abroad) telling the country it could never be done in Africa. But more than anything, I felt the excitement of the tournament steadily grow within me. It would be an exaggeration to say that I was obsessed with the World Cup, but the amount of time and energy I spent thinking about it could certainly have led to unreal expectations.

In fact, it did. I had totally unrealistic expectations of what the tournament meant and would be. I not only expected to have one of the best months of my life personally, I also believed that the Cup would change South Africa for the better, forever. And the most amazing thing, as I look back, is that all of my expectations were met. The World Cup was everything I ever hoped it would be and more. It was beautiful.

The Morning of the Opening

From a personal side, I have never had so much fun for such an extended period of time. Imagine spending a month of your life where you never have to ask yourself even once: ‘What should I do today’? There was always something happening, whether at and around the stadiums, at bars and restaurants or at the fan parks. And most importantly, everyone I came into contact with was, very simply, happy. This is the best thing about the World Cup. Thousands of people from all over the world converge on a country for a month. They come to watch football, and to sing, and to dance, and to laugh, and to meet new people, and to be happy. There is no way to describe the feelings of love, friendship and positivity that saturated South Africa during the tournament. By some accounts, crime in Johannesburg dropped by 60-70% during the month. I repeat: in one of the most dangerous cities in the world (by some measures), a soccer tournament led to a 60-70% drop in crime. There are many reasons this happened, including an increased police presence, tight security and extremely efficient World Cup courts. But there is no doubt in my mind that much of this drop can be attributed to the simple fact that the World Cup brings out the best in people. It connects people – human to human – in a way that I have never seen.

Before US-Algeria

This was never more clear to me than before the US-Algeria group match in Pretoria. I was somewhat apprehensive about how the dynamics between the Algerian and American fans would play out. Given the United States’ relationship with the Muslim world over the past decade, I had my doubts that the same fun-loving competitive spirit I had seen would persist. But these doubts were almost immediately allayed as my friends and I – in full American regalia – strolled past a group of about 50 Algerian fans on the street. Several of the Algerians ran over to us with their cameras and we ended up taking group photos. In most cases, we were not able to communicate beyond a few basic phrases, but the warmth with which we interacted was undeniable. Inside the stadium, we sat next to a group of 20-something Algerians and spent the entire match talking trash. Thoughts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ‘on terror’ could not have been further from any of our minds. We were just a bunch of football lovers, proudly representing the places of our birth.

Pride. This was another wonderful component of the World Cup. I am by no means ashamed of being American, but given the actions of our Government and behaviour of our politicians since September 11th, it has been a difficult time to look on my country with pride. During the World Cup, however, I was intensely, proudly American. I painted my face. I wore my custom-designed makarapa as often as possible (one of the better investments I’ve ever made by the way). I sang songs and screamed ‘U-S-A’ as loud as possible. It was a joy. And I am sure that people from other countries felt the same joy. Whatever hang-ups or misgivings or concerns or problems one might have with their country, it didn’t matter. We just wanted to see our boys win. (As a side note: when we scored in injury time to beat Algeria and go through to the second round was one of the most ecstatic moments of my life, as captured pretty much perfectly by this picture.)

After US-Algeria

Add to these experiences and emotions the fact that more than ten of my friends from around the world came to visit, and it was unforgettable. For several days after July 11th, I had trouble concentrating or motivating myself to get to work. I had post-World Cup depression.

The personal impact that the tournament had on me, however, was nothing compared to what it meant for South Africa. Several weeks before the opening match, I read an editorial by a South African guy who had emigrated to England several years ago. I do not remember much of the article, but at the end he explained why he had finally decided to come home for the World Cup after months of debate. He said that he was coming ‘to see the South Africa of my dreams.’ That is exactly what I saw. For those who have spent any significant time here, it is obvious that the country faces countless, incredibly complex problems. Most of these problems, in one way or another, are connected to race, inequality and the legacy of apartheid. South Africa remains deeply divided, with extraordinary amounts of ignorance, fear, mistrust and outright hatred existing across race and class lines.

So as I watched Mary Fitzgerald Square in downtown Johannesburg slowly fill up on June 11th with Blacks, Whites, Indians and Coloureds all wearing South African gear, it was clear something special was happening. And from the moment that Siphiwe Tshabalala scored against Mexico and the entire country exploded, there was no denying that, perhaps for the first time, South Africa was truly united. For the rest of the month, long after Bafana had been eliminated, South Africans of every colour and income-level celebrated together and hosted the world in spectacular fashion.

It was this hosting that I believe will have the longest-lasting, most important impact on South Africa. On the last night before one of my friends left, I asked her how she felt about her time in the country. She told me that before arriving, she did not even want to come. After reading horror stories about crime and violence in the European press, as well as God knows how many afro-pessimist articles, she was not looking forward to the trip. She thought she would be constantly worried about her safety and afraid to do much of anything. What she found could not have been more different, and she cannot wait to come back.

It is people like her that will impact South Africa for years to come. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flocked into the country (by some estimates, more than a million). They pumped more than a billion dollars into the economy and many will return at some point in the future. More importantly, the vast majority of them went home and raved about the people they met and the places they saw.

This, one person at a time, will help to change not only the world’s perception of South Africa, but of the continent as a whole. That will be the greatest legacy of the 2010 World Cup. Africa successfully hosted the largest sporting event in the world (for those of us who saw the support for Ghana first-hand, there is no doubt that this was Africa’s Cup). And along the way, millions – if not billions – of people saw that Africa is not about war or starvation or Big Men or crushing poverty. Those things, of course, do exist and will continue to hold the continent back. But Africa is actually about laughter and kindness and smiles and music and noise and good food and treating people as they should be treated. And it will never be the same after the World Cup.

See you in Brazil in 2014.

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Thank You!

Image from TMCnet.com

Thanks to everyone who helped make this blog what it is.  The blog started as a personal interest.  But I soon found out there was a community of people who were thinking about some of the same questions.  And since I started, this blog has had over 84,000 page views. Not my intention at all from the start, so I’m just absolutely amazed and pleased that it was able to reach some folks and help others connect.  Truly, the support, contributions (written), encouragement, and connections made over the last year and half have been amazing.   And I hope that it continues far into the future.

So I wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge and say a resounding THANKS to the folks below (in no particular order).  I can’t thank you enough; you’ll always have my admiration and gratitude!

Apologies in advance for anyone I may have left off.

Gary Benham, Head of Communications, Pretoria: Foreign & Commonwealth Office. You can read his blog here: http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/benham/

Steve Fleming, CEO of Kick for Life, an amazing charity organization.

Adam Boros, friend, gracious host in South Africa, and amazing on-the ground correspondent. Read his many guest posts on this blog by clicking on the “guest post” section to the right.

Jamie Tosh, social entrepreneur, world-changer and co-founder of Kick4Change.  You can follow him and the company on twitter @Kick4Change

Andrew Bonfiglio, fellow Cornell alum, guest post contributor, and fellow party-goer in South Africa.  You can read more about the company he started and launched in South Africa, Emzingo, at www.Emzingo.com

Caitlin Halferty, friend, grad-school classmate, guest post contributor, and IBM corporate service corps member.  

Mike Herman – Founder of Compton United.  Check out their site here and follow him on twitter @urbanfocus

Aykan Gulten, formerly with Nike’s Sustainable Business & Innovation team in Amsterday. You can read his blog here and follow him on twitter @AykanGulten

Mathew, founder of www.dzcus.com. You can check out his world cup related site here and follow him on twitter @mathaix and @dzcus_worldcup.

Sab Singh, NYU professor and principal at the Kaur Group, and editor of Sports Doing Good. You can follow the blog on twitter @sportsdoinggood

David Connor, CSR guru, fellow football junkie, and CEO of Coethica, a CSR consultancy. You can follow David on twitter @davidcoethica

Elaine Cohen, CSR and reporting guru, and person who got me started on twitter. Thanks Elaine! You can read her blog, CSR and Reporting here. And you can follow her on twitter @elainecohen

Tracey Savell Reavis, journalist and guest post contributor.  Check out her company, Philanthropy Scores

G Kofi Annan, Africa, branding, and trends thought leader: Check out his site Annansi Monitor follow him on twitter @GKofiAnnan

Ken G Kabira, branding expert, arsenal supporter and friend

Minesh Parikh, friend and media planning guru. Follow him on twitter @ideas_economy

Norman Brook, Brook Sport and Leisure. Read his blog here http://brooksportandleisure.wordpress.com/ and follow him on twitter @BrookSport

Marco Puccia, social entrepreneur and CSR journalist.  Had a lot of fun doing the video interview with him which can be found here. Check out his site and follow him on twitter @marcopuccia

Dave Tait, social entrepreneur, football follower, South African, neat guy.  Follow him on twitter @taitdave and on the Business Fights Poverty Ning

Aman Singh, Editor of Vault.com’s CSR Blog, In Good Company.  You can follow her on twitter at @VaultCSR

My wife, Amanda, all-around awesome

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My World Cup Photos

World Cup 2010

Click on photo for full album

What now?

Photo from The Guardian, July 11

Apologies for the long delay. While I’d love to say I was being strategic and was purposely waiting a whole month since the last ball was kicked for this post, I’d be lying. I’ve simply been busy. Poor excuse though. However, it is a bit fortuitous that the first real free moment I’ve had to write falls almost exactly a month since that last game. A month, which has provided a decent amount of time to let that surface layer of dust to settle; to let those who were fortunate enough to be employed before the games remember that they should probably get back to work or risk losing that precious job; to let those who were scraping by before the games get back to their business of “making do.” Whatever the circumstance, by now most people in South Africa and around the world have asked themselves, “now what?” It’s a fair question, particularly since South Africans have been preparing, mentally and physically, for this event for the past five years.

Early reports show that the post-World Cup hangover has been tough. The Financial Times, in a July 21 article, described how the amazing sense of friendliness and safety that pervaded the country during the games, was beginning to wear off, with reported solated xenophobic attacks against immigrants. Economic forecasters were already beginning to downgrade the country’s growth projections for the year.

This negativity and the doubts shouldn’t be surprising.  They were there before the games and they’ll continue to persist long after, regardless of the amazing spectacle South Africa put on for the world.

So the real question isn’t “now what?” i.e. ho-hum, what are we to do?  But the question is “now what?” meaning how will South Africa and South Africans react to a post-World Cup reality?  This will be real test of their mettle. Was all of the Shosha-loza national unity caused only by the pixie dust of the World Cup or will this event really be seen as a starting point towards a truly post-racial South Africa?  Will white South Africans begin attending the Kaizer Chiefs v. Orland Pirates derbies (if they can get tix); will black South Africans begin filling the stands for Springboks matches?  We’ll see.

This will also be a test of the commitment of the business community.  It was clear that multinational brands, even the large sponsors, didn’t use the opportunity to invest real resources into the growth of the country.  Their long-term commitment to the country and region will be tested now.  And all of the idyllic private-public partnerships that preceded the games (think Gautrain) will also be on trial to see if they continue as beacons of South Africa’s growth.

A month is still a short period of time to get over fiver years of anticipation.  But I believe the early actions (or lack thereof) will be indicative of how this event will shape the future of the country.

I’m hopeful that the amazing energy I saw during the World Cup will serve as a catalyst for continued greatness.  Time will tell, but I hope we see some signs early.

Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts or comments.

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Back in the States: Some observations before the tournament ends

I’ve returned to the U.S. and have joined the ranks of fans, watching from afar.  It’s interesting to have both perspectives; that of a fan completely immersed in the event where every corner reveals a reminder that the World Cup is happening all around you and that of a the casual spectator who has to catch scores on-line and game replays after work hours.  Both are fun, and while I’m a bit sad not to be in South Africa anymore I do think we were there for the best time.  The euphoria in the country around Bafana Bafana’s success was intoxicating and it was an amazing ride to be at all of their group games; we knew that the fire would burn a little less bright once they were knocked out.  But the games and the fun continue, particularly for fans of the remaining countries.

Now that I’ve had a little time to process; here are a few of my early thoughts on the impact of the games.

1. CSR initiatives by major sponsors (or other companies) were, disaapointingly non-existent. Cone Inc., one of the most influential cause-marketing firms around, mentioned this blog on their blog! I was honored of course, but the recognition was due to my tweeting about the lack of CSR or cause-marketing efforts in the country; not exactly what I was hoping for around the World Cup.  I think businesses missed out on a major opportunity to increase exposure and good will for their brand.  The first World Cup, hosted in Africa, was an opportunity for brands to get in front of billions of people, but also show consumers around the globe and in new markets around the African continent, that they cared about people.  FIFA’s Centres for Hope was the only visible example and had participation by a few of the major corporate sponsors, but it appeared to be more charity than strategic.  A missed opportunity in my opinion.

2. The near-term impact has benefited many, particularly the hospitality industry, but for the street-level entrepreneur, the economic boon has not been realized. We saw tons of street vendors, mostly guys, trying to sell their wares at busy intersections and highway off-ramps, all with the hope of making a few extra bucks from the World Cup.   A July 1, ESPN Soccernet article on street vendors hawking replica jerseys, vuvuzela,s country flags, and other tchotchkes highlighted the issue well.  The author writes

Shame (the surname of an interviewed vendor) had high hopes for this World Cup. But the World Cup has no place for him…The difficulty in converting the World Cup into cash threatens to taint the tournament’s legacy for the locals. “After the World Cup, us Africans must gain some benefit from it,” Mufandaedza (another intereviewed vendor) said. “I thought that if I tried to sell something, I can benefit something. As Africans in one’s life, this is the only golden opportunity to make money for us.

The author continues:

But for the vendors, this tournament has yielded little but disillusion. “We are very disappointed. Very, very disappointed,” said vendor Billy Banda, 23, in his deep voice. “We were chased out.”

For full article, click here: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/columns/story/_/id/5307563/ce/us/leander-schaerlaeckens-rough-life-johannesburg-street-vendors?cc=5901&ver=us

3. But the long-term benefits might be very real.  I cite two benefits in particular; one economic and one social.

Firstly, South Africa hosted (and is still hosting) a world-class event; the stadiums were immaculate, the new infrastructure was functioning properly, the airports were impressive.  Security was a little more lax then expected, but everything went off without a hitch.  Hospitality was typically South African, meaning warm, welcoming, and without pretense.  Of course, there were areas for improvement such as the system of shepherding people out of the stadiums to the park-and-ride areas or the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  But putting on a world-class event, in a country that still suffers from a (generally) unfair reputation for being dangerous, will hopefully prove the doubters wrong and change a few opinions.  As South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was quoted in a Buanews article:

“Today, we have earned the reputation of a country that can actually deliver, and that is good for future growth,”

He added that the event had helped to bring an end to the Afro-pessimism that had dominated foreign media for years.

And after talking to many folks who had made this their first trip to South Africa, it was resoundingly clear that it wouldn’t be their last; if anything, that sentiment will be one of the longer-term economic benefits of the World Cup.

To see the full article, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/2010/benefits-020710.htm

Secondly, the social impact was something I definitely didn’t anticipate.  South Africa is still a young democracy, where only 16 years have passed since the end of Apartheid.  And in a country where racial oppression is such a defining part of it’s recent history but post-racialism is what’s been touted since the end of Apartheid, it was sometimes difficult to parse between what was reality and what was idealism over the last decade or so.  But seeing people of every color get behind Bafana Bafana, the South African soccer team, and the national flag, was truly remarkable.  To see every car on the road flying some sort of South African paraphernalia was inspiring.  In a country where sport defined racial lines as much as color (rugby and cricket were for white South Africans; soccer for black South Africans) it was amazing to see people of every color supporting their soccer team.  One poignant moment was at the opening game, South Africa vs. Mexico.  An older white man and a guy who appeared to be in his late 20’s and who appeared to be the older man’s son were sitting in front of us.  The younger guy was enthusiastically explaining some of the rules of the game to his father and describing some of the players.  The older man had a wide-eyed look and a huge smile on his face.  This scene would not have taken place at a soccer game in South Africa even a few years ago.  And this is just one anecdotal example, but it seems that the World Cup truly has helped bring the country a little closer; brought the races, which still have their differences, a common reference point of understanding.  And hopefully, all of the young children, of all races, who came to the games and had a wonderful time, will carry that spirit of post-racialism and optimism into the future.

South African President, Jacob Zuma, summed this up well in a recent interview with FIFA:

It is for the first time in South Africa that we have seen this Rainbow Nation really coming together in a manner we have not witnessed before. For the first time, I have noticed that every South African is now flying our national flag. Everybody is just crazy about this tournament, both black and white. This tournament proved that sport is a tool for nation building.

For the full interview between FIFA and President Zuma, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/2010/zuma-020710.htm

The tournament is still on; four countries remain.  Though, South Africa is not playing for the trophy, they are still the ones with the most to lose or gain from this tournament.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the final on July 11, once the question of “what now?” starts getting asked.  Look out for some guest posts from friends in South Africa who will be able to provide some perspective on the question of “what now?”

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Guest Post: Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

By Andrew Bonifiglia

June 13, 2010 – Johannesburg, South Africa

Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

There are plenty of good causes that will benefit from the hype, sponsorship, and promotion that the World Cup brings to South Africa. One in particular caught my interest; United Against Malaria (http://unitedagainstmalaria.org/).

With a mission to “Kick Malaria Out of Africa” the organization is using the World Cup as a platform to promote malaria prevention and treatment. Like HIV/AIDS, malaria is not only a social and health issue, but an economic one. Employee sick days, lost productivity from those infected with the disease, and employee vacation or unpaid leave due to family members having the illness all impact a company’s bottom line. 850,000 people die from malaria each year[i]. When you take into consideration the points I just made, that can add up to millions upon millions of Rands. And please don’t think I’m cold hearted. The reason the economics are so important is because organizations like United Against Malaria, coupled with the reach and financial resources of governments and large corporations operating in Africa, can win the fight against malaria. Behavioral change is the ultimate goal. The population at-large needs to understand the risks associated with malaria, how it can be prevented, and most importantly, MODIFY behavior to mitigate the chance of becoming part of the statistics. Hopefully, the amount of coverage the World Cup draws to UAM and malaria in general will be the impetus to an Africa where malaria has been “kicked out.”

And just a final comment; the push to reduce the number of malaria cases in Africa is not a new thing. However, the paradox is that it is a completely preventable disease and one that can be treated (much easier than HIV/AIDS). With that in mind, I think it is a cause worth fighting for and one where the goal can be realized if all of the stakeholders come together.

[And a quick thank you to Celia Deitz who is working for United Against Malaria and was kind enough to give me a few minutes of her time to learn about the great work she and the organization are doing] [i]

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34465&Cr=malaria&Cr1=

Guest Post: Day 1 and Some Post-World Cup Impact Predictions

I recently got in touch with Andrew Bonfiglio whom I put in touch with my friend Adam Boros, who has provided some guest posts from South Africa.  Andrew has recently moved to South Africa and started a leadership and development firm.  Below is a guest post he provided on his thoughts on the post World Cup impact on the country and region.

And then there was 1: Post-World Cup South Africa

Each of us has seen both sides of South Africa in the news over the past few weeks and months. There are pictures of the most destitute areas of the outer rims of Johannesburg in one article followed by the beauty of Table Mountain in scenic Cape Town in the next. You’ve heard tales of angry street vendors who believe the World Cup will have a negative impact on business countered with positive remarks from excited shop owners who are already starting to see the influx of tourists boost business. I have come across stories of people who are too poor to attend the games even though they live, literally, within walking distance from Soccer City only to hear other stories from the same township of how bringing the World Cup to Africa is inspiring and encouraging whether they can attend the games or not.

My question for you; what happens after the thousands of tourists leave? There are no more stadiums to construct, foreigners to fill the guest houses, nor resources to keep security personnel employed in the long run. Poverty and incredible income disparity will persist, at least in the immediate future. However, I think these are more of logistical items.

When I ask, “So what’s next?”, I think more about the impact on the people and spirit of SA.

Well, I can’t say for sure what will be happen, but I have seen a few shining starts that give me hope that the World Cup is just the beginning of a better and brighter South Africa. Here’s one great example. Two friends of mine are working on a Voluntourism company that will use empty schools house hostels, guest houses and home additions that people built leading up to the World Cup – all in Soweto as housing for foreign visitors wanting to experience South Africa – real SA, not tourist SA – in a different and meaningful way by volunteering for a local social impact organization as part of their vacation. The concept is not new, but the application is definitely unique. This is the type of ingenuity and inspired thinking that I hope permeates the rest of the struggling areas in and around Johannesburg and other South African cities.

The World Cup is a chance for the people of the country to change their mentality a bit. A shift to a “Yes, we can” (that was not an intentional Obama-ism) attitude after South Africa shows the world that it was wrong to doubt whether an African country could handle the biggest sporting event in the world.

And on the other side, I hope that more than just a few of the world travelers that pass through these great cities get a chance to see all that SA has to offer; the good, the bad, the ugly. When the world really understands the truly amazing and inspiring nature of the human element here, sees the economic possibilities that lie ahead, and at the same time witnesses the incredible amount of need here, I can only hope that more attention will be drawn – and thus more solutions provided (notice I said solutions, not aid) – to the social and economic issues in South Africa. The World Cup is more than a soccer tournament; it is a chance for the people here to use the momentum as a tool to create positive change within their communities and an opportunity for South Africa to improve the worldwide reputation of this incredible country so that it can reach the potential Tutu and Mandela saw when coining it the rainbow nation.

About the author: After recently completing his MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, Andrew Bonfiglio co-founded a Leadership and International Development firm and moved to South Africa to set up operations (www.emzingo.com). Andrew acts as Director of Operations, developing social impact projects with local organizations in Johannesburg and co-designing Emzingo’s leadership curriculum.

Some observations before the games

So it’s the day before the games begin and we’ve been in South Africa for a few days now. Here are a few observations so far:

  1. Not everyone is excited. Case in point: as we were checking into a hostel in Hermanus, a beach town just 90k from Cape Town (and whale watching mecca), the lodge owner Jan was filling out his ledger and said, “is it 2010 already?” Obviously not a football fan. But if you were in Hermanus it would be easy to miss that the world’s biggest sporting event was going to be taking place just a few hours down the road.
  2. But most people are. Seeing fans from all over the world and hearing that vuvezela are definite signs that something special is going to happen.
  3. They call it soccer in South Africa. Weird.
  4. Immediate impact: winter tourism spending. While the long-term impact of the games will need some time before an assessment can be made, one immediate impact, which I hadn’t really thought about, will be the boost to tourism during the country’s off season. Perhaps the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months are when tourists typically travel to South Africa, but right now, it’s winter here and the weather isn’t all that friendly. So with the games, the hostels, B&B’s, and restaurants that are typically empty or slow, are doing quite good business.
  5. Adidas is doing some interesting branding. Adidas, major World Cup Sponsors, have branded many of the kombis (mini bus taxis) in town. Wouldn’t be remarkable in most cases, but these taxis generally transport folks from the city centers to the surrounding townships. Perhaps this is one subtle way Adidas is trying to make some branding in-roads in the much heavier populated (and growing in purchasing power) township communities?
  6. Even in Capetown, things are not that crazy. I asked a taxi driver if things were getting busy for him or if traffic was getting horrendous and he just shrugged and said “no, but maybe it’s the calm before the storm.” I’m assuming it’s the calm, but he’ll surely want the storm (and lots of fares) that will come with it.
  7. This country is still bizarre and I still love it. It’s been seven years since I’ve last been here. Then, I was working and spending a lot of time in the townships surrounding Capetown: Khayalitsha, Langa, etc. These areas were dominated by dirt roads and overcrowded tin-roof shack homes. And seven years later (16 years after the official end of Apartheid), and an estimated $52 billion spent on World Cup preparations, they still are. And just 20 K down the road is Capetown, a jewel of a city with an Aston Martin dealership on the water front and other signs of excess. All in a country where the overwhelming majority are NOT white and still living in poverty. This seems like this country shouldn’t work; these conditions of inequality, perpetrated by Apartheid, shouldn’t still be acceptable; there should be a revolution! But this patience, resilience, and optimism that “things will improve” are perhaps some of the reasons why this country DOES seem to work and why I love this place. It shouldn’t work and in many cases it doesn’t (e.g. crime), but the fact that it hasn’t been reduced to bloodshed over the years and that it’s now playing host to the world are testaments to the spirit of the country and the hopeful path that people are plowing ahead.

In Jozie (Johannesburg) starting tomorrow. More to come soon!

En Route to the World Cup! It’s really happening!

I’ve been thinking about this event ever since it was announced, in May of 2004, that South Africa would be hosting the 2010 World Cup.  When I mentioned this to a friend they said “that’s the amount of time that passes when you graduate from college” and when you think about it, it’s actually the equivalent of college and a little bit of graduate school thrown in there.

Needless to say I’ve been waiting for this for a long time; a lot of anticipation and a lot of patience.  And who knew that this blog would be alive and kicking?  One year and more than 53,000 page views later, the big event is here, smacking me in the face. So big thanks to all of you for spending some time with me here.

I’m about to head off for an epic 2 days of travel (52 hrs and 4 airlines) to get to Capetown but it will all be worth it!  I’ll try my best to blog and tweet from around the country to capture how the games are impacting folks all over the country.  And of course, watch a little footie.  So please continue to check-in!

Cheers! And may the best team win! But ultimately may South Africa, the region, and its people be the biggest winners!

Guest Post: A view from the ground with less than 2 weeks to go!

My dear friend Adam Boros has written some guest posts for this blog over the last year.  He has lived in Johannesburg for the last five years and has had a first row seat to the build up (both physical and emotional) to the World Cup during that time period.  Below, he provides his perspective, with the games now fewer than two weeks away!

By Adam Boros

May 30, 2010

Johannesburg, South Africa – 14 days. For those of us in South Africa who have watched a countdown that started somewhere over 1,000, the fact that the World Cup kicks off two weeks from today is surreal. The long wait is nearing its conclusion and to say that we are excited is a comical understatement. The country is infected with football fever and it is difficult to spend an hour without hearing or seeing or feeling some reminder of the biggest sporting event in the world. It is difficult for me to put into words the emotions that I am feeling in the final stretch because I have rarely been this excited for any kind of event in my life. So I will settle for a few musings…

  • Fridays – like today – are the best day of the week. For the past few months, South Africa has celebrated Football Fridays every week, when people are encouraged to fly the South African flag wherever and however they can and wear a Bafana Bafana jersey. It has been amazing to see how each week, more and more South Africans don the yellow or green Bafana jersey or affix a flag to their car (or strap SA flag covers on their sideview mirrors in an especially stylish display). Perhaps most amazingly, the people that you least expect to be demonstrating their love of soccer and the national team seem to be the most ardent supporters of the day. Soccer in South Africa is undoubtedly a ‘black’ sport, with few whites showing much interest in local teams or games. But on Friday, elderly white women and big, rugby-loving Afrikaners are proudly Bafana Bafana. Not to mention politicians – it is an entertaining (and refreshing) site to see the national president wearing a soccer jersey to important meetings and events.
  • For those of you who have seen Invictus (which I did not really care for), you will understand that sport has often played an important role in race relations here. In that tradition, the World Cup is already having some unexpected benefits for racial reconciliation in the country. Due to the need to keep football pitches pristine, the best rugby team in the country (the Blue Bulls) was forced to shift its home semifinal of an important tournament from Pretoria to Soweto last week Saturday. Moving a sporting event from one stadium to another less than an hour away would hardly be front page news in most places around the world. But this represented the first premier league professional rugby match ever to be played in a black township. The political and social importance of this event is difficult to overstate, and difficult to understand for anyone who has not spent significant time in the country. To see busloads of Afrikaners flooding into Soweto – a place that I can safely say only a tiny minority had ever ventured into – was a beautiful site. As the captain of the Blue Bulls said after the game, it was a perfect display of “how far we have come since 1994.” And without the World Cup, it would not have happened.
  • Several months ago, I wrote how I was surprised at how little World Cup advertising was visible around Johannesburg. This is definitely no longer a problem. The other day, as I was driving from one meeting to another across the endless sprawl that is Joburg, I decided to count any World Cup-related advertising that I came across. I drove for probably about 60 kms in total, and never went more than 1 kilometer without seeing a poster, mural or advertisement that mentioned the World Cup in some way. The tournament, without any doubt, is unavoidable!
  • The argument that South Africa will reap huge economic benefits from the World Cup is certainly debatable (although I read an article this week that a recent study showed the country’s GDP will increase by an impressive 0.5% from the tournament alone). But I have been especially surprised (and even shocked) at how tightly FIFA controls every last component of the tournament, and stifles local economic enrichment in the process. Without any doubt, the most tragic example of this is the barring of local people selling local food at the stadiums during games (tragic for both the locals and the tourists!). But there is no question that the infrastructural improvements that will last long after July 11 are a huge boon to the country. Although I do not think there is a single Joburger who is not incredibly sick of huge traffic jams, reduced speed limits and reroutes and detours, when all is said and done the new road network, public transport systems and other improvements will make the country a better place to work and live.
  • They may have less utility, but the most impressive infrastructure projects are certainly the stadiums. All of the new World Cup stadiums are beautiful and state-of-the-art. Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the first ever match to be played at Soccer City. It was a tournament final between two less popular local teams that would normally draw a crowd of a few thousand. On Saturday there were 80,000. If ever there was a stadium to draw a crowd more easily than the participating teams, this is it. It is truly world-class, and the helicopter shots of the ‘Calabash’ with Johannesburg in the background were absolutely beautiful. I went again last night for the first Bafana match to be played there and the atmosphere was unreal. Pure joy, excitement and noise for 90 minutes.

And on June 11th, just 14 days from now, the entire country will be blowing their vuvuzelas, sporting their national jerseys, singing to their hearts content and fighting back tears of joy as Mexico and Bafana kick-off at Soccer City. Of all the official slogans used by FIFA over the past few years, there is only one that truly captures what this tournament means. For too long, Africa is only in the news due to civil war, starvation and poverty. I believe that the 2010 World Cup will be the first time that the entire world will, and must, ‘celebrate Africa’s humanity.’

Woza June 11!!!

FIFA’s Opposing Interests: money for them or for South Africa?

A recent article in the UK based paper, The Independent, highlighted a topic that I’ve written about on this blog: FIFA, their vigilant stance against ambush marketing, and the resultant loss of economic opportunity for small-scale entrepreneurs to benefit from the upcoming World Cup.  Now I understand FIFA’s reasons for defending the well-paid for rights of their major corporate sponsors.  And they didn’t hide the fact that they wouldn’t tolerate ambush marketing.  But their vigor in this area may now be biting themselves in the behind.  I don’t think anyone would argue against their right to prevent Nike or Puma’s presence in the stadiums or fan parks due to Adidas’ role as an official sponsor.  But when you compare that against preventing street vendors from selling key chains or lollipops (lollipops!) with the word ’2010′ or the image of the South African flag, it raises some eyebrows.   According to the article it states that FIFA “has opened 451 cases of ambush marketing, aiming to protect its official partners who have spent fortunes to win exclusive rights to the brand.”

But Pierre de Vos, a constitutional lawyer, fears that if these actions persists, average South Africans will see only limited benefits from the World Cup.  He continues to state:

Many of the rules are here to protect financial interests of FIFA. It has nothing to do with the successful hosting of the World Cup…If the economic benefits are not as high as people had hoped, people will become more disillusioned with FIFA

And disillusionment with FIFA should be the least of the organizing committee’s worries; FIFA officials get to return to Switzerland and enjoy the benefit of only hosting this event every four years.  But the organizing committee members will be the ones expected to answer questions if pre-games promises are not fulfilled.

This article in the Independent is discouraging but not surprising.  I know it’s much easier to report on the negative than to report on the good that’s happening (hoping that there actually is a lot more positive to be reported on!).  So I’m hoping that articles highlighting the negative impacts don’t outweigh those showcasing the positive things happening in the country around the games.

But this article is also discouraging in light of another recent article (May 3) in the Financial Times that reported that FIFA would be generating a net gain of $1 billion in income, although they said it was wrong to talk about the surplus as a profit.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA executive, described the surplus as “a reserve to insulate the organisation from any unforeseen financial problems.”  He continued, saying:

We are not rich, we are making quite good money and thanks to the World Cup, because . . . that’s the only income we have…We should not talk about profit.

When you balance this report of them not being “rich” on one hand and then see them raising lawsuits against those small-scale entrepreneurs who are simply trying to make money for their families, one can’t help but see a major disconnect between FIFA and those of the country hosting the event.  FIFA is working hard to protect the brand of their generous sponsors, but they are at serious risk of damaging their own.

Up to this point, FIFA has talked a good game about leveraging the games in order to uplift the country, it’s people, and the region.  Hopefully they don’t squash any built-up good will by continuing to play the Goliath, to the entrepreneurs’, David.

To read the full May 3, Financial Times article click here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e62f2be-56c2-11df-aa89-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss

To read the full May 11, The Independent article click here: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/internationals/fifa-marketing-rules-spark-frustration-in-safrica-1971006.html

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BBC Article: Will the World Cup only make the rich, richer?

The question posed in the title of the post, surely is not the intended result.  That is, if you believe everything FIFA and the World Cup organizing committees have said over the the last few years.  Economic development! Employment! Increased opportunity! Social mobility!  Those were the optimistic rallying cries you heard.  Hey, I was one of them, and will continue to echo those thoughts until proven otherwise.  But the slightly pessimistic side of me isn’t surprised to read the contents of this BBC article.  Due to FIFA’s policing of their brand and the brand of their corporate sponsors, the livelihood of street and stadium vendors have come to a stand still at best and at the other end of the spectrum, has resulted in jail time for some.

The tragic irony is not lost on these vendors.  Many were led to believe that with the World Cup would come economic opportunity.  Surely many South Africans have been employed in stadium and transportation infrastructure projects.  However, for these street and stadium vendors struggling to support their families, the results have not been so rosy.  One vendor quoted in the article stated

“I want nothing to do with the World Cup; it has caused me too much pain already,” he says.

“I’ll be happy when this whole thing is over, maybe the police will leave us alone so we can earn a living for our children”.

It will be very interesting to see how FIFA responds to this sort of criticism.  And it will be even more interesting to see if a company steps in to address this issue and advocates on behalf of the vendors.

Thanks to @marcopuccia for sending me the link:

To read the full article, click here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8663148.stm

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2010 World Cup to be turning point against Malaria in Africa

I found this article in the online English language version of a Chinese newspaper, Xinhuanet.com.  This discovery in itself was interesting.  But what really caught my attention was the news that the World Economic Forum on Africa, along with the attention on the Continent due to the upcoming World Cup, was going to be leveraged to further the fight against malaria.

As the article states, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania said:

“African countries and international organizations will grasp the opportunity of the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa to advocate the fight against malaria and accelerate actions of confronting the No.1 killer of children under five on the continent”

Chambers continued…

“We are on track to reach our fundamental goal of getting mosquito nets to all those in need by the end of 2010, but we still have to make sure the nets are being used properly…by combining Africa’s enthusiasm for football with messages encouraging proper net utilization, we know we can save lives.”

At the World Economic Forum on Africa, a gathering of more than 10 African heads of state and government, and around 1,000 participants from over 80 countries to discuss the continent’s development agenda, the 26-member African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) and the United Against Malaria (UAM) partnership on Wednesday issued a challenge to business and football associations to help make the first FIFA World Cup to be held on African soil a turning point in eliminating malaria across Africa.

This is all wonderful news.  The World Economic Forum is a  gathering of heavy-hitter thinkers and power brokers.  Hopefully, leveraging this event and the upcoming World Cup will continue the momentum around achieving the goal of reducing malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.  This is one goal that seems very achievable and I hope that the global spotlight of the World Cup will be fully leveraged to push this cause.  But if this story remains hidden away on the English language version of an online Chinese newspaper, I’m a bit concerned.  Hopefully this story gets more coverage in major news outlets and becomes more of a cause to rally around as the games get closer.  And hopefully some businesses get involved in the cause.  This seems like an issue that many corporations and industries, from pharmaceuticals to textiles, could easily get on board with.

To read the original article, click here: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/health/2010-05/06/c_13280018.htm

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Guest Post: Boots for Aba’fana

I’ve been in touch with Alex Grant, who works for the Wall Street Journal and recently started an effort to collect football gear for kids in South Africa, when he attends the World Cup.  A nice personal gesture that I’m sure will be very appreciated. His letter to support his organization, Boots for Aba’fana is below.  Please read on if interested.

Dear friends,

As many of you know I am heading to South Africa in June to attend the FIFA World Cup tournament.  I can’t believe it is finally here!  Four long years since Germany 2006.  For me Germany was my first World Cup live and was a truly amazing experience. Many of you have heard me say that I believe football (soccer) to be the worlds great equalizer.  There aren’t many opportunities for developing countries to take on the world’s super powers, but the World Cup provides that chance every four years.  The energy and pride of those supporting their countries is a spectacle in and of itself.   I made a commitment after ’06 to make the trek every four years as long as I am able.

As I was planning this years journey, I was introduced to a woman named Jenny Housdon by my step-daughter’s pre-K teacher, Ms. Zio.  Jenny runs a business in South Africa that specializes in tours of the township of Khayelitsha.  Khayelitsha is located near Capetown and is populated by nearly 1.5 million people(http://www.nomvuyos-tours.co.za/township_info.shtml).  Like many other townships, Khayelitsha is economically challenged.  Jenny has been instrumental in not only sharing the inner beauty of Khayelitsha and its people, but also helping to acquire basic necessities for Khayelitsha and its residents.  Jenny’s February newsletter mentioned a need for football gear for teams in Khayelitsha.  The teams play on a pretty hard scrabble “field” which is really a rocky patch of dirt.  Manchester, the soccer coach in Khayelitsha, mentioned that many of the boys don’t have shoes to wear and asked for help.  When I read Jenny’s newsletter it got me thinking about the contrast of the World Cup being played in beautiful stadiums around South Africa while boys in the nearby townships have no shoes.  I decided then that I wanted to try and help.

I started an organization called “Boots for Aba’fana” (Aba’fana means “the boys”) and set a goal of raising $3,000 between now and June 4th, 2010 which is when I depart for Johannesburg.  I have pledged $100 to get the fund rolling, so there – we’re off to a great start and now we only need $2,900!  The money donated will be used to buy shoes for the footballers of Khayelitsha as well as a sports wheelchair for one of the boys in Khayelitsha who is interested in competing in adapted sports.

Because my departure is so near we don’t have time to apply for, and receive, a 501(c)(3) which makes us an official non-profit organization.   However, we are receiving support from Tony Sanneh and The Sanneh Foundation (http://www.thesannehfoundation.org/) who have offered the use their 501c3.  As many of you know, Tony is a former US National Team member who represented USA in the 2002 World Cup.  Tony also played in the MLS and top European leagues.  Read about some of Tony’s most recent efforts in Haiti here http://www.startribune.com/blogs/86375212.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

I have started a Facebook page called Boots for Aba’fana (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boots-for-Abafana/111259205559081).  Here you can learn a little more about Khayelitsha township, see some pictures of the kids, read Jenny’s newsletters and of course donate.  To donate through Paypal, there is a “Donate” button on the left side of the page, right beneath our small, but growing number of friends.  I will update this page as often as possible between now and early June.  During the tournament I will be sure to post pictures of the World Cup, Khayelitsha and of course the kids.

Any amount donated will help.  Even $1 will do.  If everyone on this email thread donated $1, we’d be 10% of the way to our goal.  Sharing this email with five (5) people you know and having them donate $1 would get us to over half our goal!  Just think, bringing your lunch to work for one day (if you don’t already) or skipping one day of your Starbucks coffee run (okay, maybe that is too much to ask), and donating this amount could make a difference in these kids’ world.  To know there are people half way around the globe that are looking out for them is an amazing idea.

I’ll end by saying that I realize there are too many quality causes to support these days.  I know we are all getting asked to donate something to somebody almost every day.  Planning for this trip and talking to many people about South Africa has made me realize how much we have to be thankful for here in the US and therefore I felt the need to make my “ask”.  That said, I completely understand if your support plate is full.  If you are so inclined, please donate whatever amount you are comfortable with.  If your budget doesn’t allow a donation, but you still want to participate, please become a fan of “Boots for Aba’fana” on Facebook and in this way, help spread the word.

Please write with any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions.

Thank you in advance for your support and I look forward to sharing our success!

Best,

Alex

Major Sports Brands in Battle with Less than 50 Days to World Cup

Bloomberg News just published a video report on the battle between the major sports brands, Adidas, Nike, and Puma, in the lead up to the World Cup.  The report is focused on the issue of sponsorship and the amount of dollars these brands have paid out to be part of winning national teams, but it also discusses the value of those sponsorships in relation to making additional sales (or jerseys, boots, balls, etc.).

While I don’t purport that CSR activities by a brand would sway the decision of fans on which teams they will support (and jerseys they buy); I do still strongly believe that how these brands choose to act on the global stage, in South Africa, can have repercussions on how their brand is perceived after the event.  I for one will be very interested to see how Puma’s sales do after the World Cup, particularly in African markets.

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Oldie but goodie: Bono tips World Cup in his 10 for the next 10

This is a few months old but I thought I’d big it up a little bit.  Bono, in the New York Times, around the turn of the new year, comprised a list of ten trends/things to watch out for the next ten years.  His last one was particularly intriguing to this blogger.  He titled it “World Cup Kicks Off the African Decade.”  In the few paragraphs the writer states

“This time round, for the 2010 World Cup, naysayers thought South Africa could not build the stadiums in time. Those critics should be red-faced now. South Africa’s impressive preparations underline the changes on the continent, where over the last few years, 5 percent economic growth was the average. Signs point to a further decade of growth to come. Canny investors will put more capital there. This in turn has the potential to shore up fragile young democracies across the continent.”

That’s exactly what I’m talking about.  Hopefully some influential readers of the NY Times caught wind of this.  And hopefully the World Cup does truly serve as a catalyst.  Big up to Bono for including this on his list.  Let’s hope that the corporations and sponsors  see the same opportunity that Bono highlighted.

To read the full post:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/opinion/03bono.html?pagewanted=3&hp

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Major World Cup Sponsors Cede Exclusivity Rights! What?

Writer, Ron Derby (rderby1@bloomberg.net) recently reported on www.Bloomberg.com that Mcdonald’s, the world’s biggest restaurant company and official World Cup sponsor, waived their rights to exclusively supply food at World Cup soccer stadiums and fan parks during the tournament starting this June 11.

What? (that’s what I said.)

Apparently, the company will instead focus on providing food at its 132 restaurants in the country.  Sechaba Motsieloa, marketing director at McDonald’s South African unit said:

“We are best suited to leverage our position at our restaurants than outside that environment…it’s also a “consideration of capacity.”

According to the article:

McDonald’s expects sales at existing stores to increase between 17 percent and 35 percent in the build-up to the tournament that begins on June 11, with revenue seen climbing 10 percent during the actual event, Motsieloa said.

But this doesn’t mean that stadium concessions will be filled with mom & pop operations or that fans will be expected to pack a bunny chow in their bag.  No, McDonald’s, has allowed FIFA, to find a partner to provide food inside stadiums and fan parks, but they can’t be a branded fast-food company.  According to Motsieloa:

McDonald’s will continue to maintain their in-venue presence through its player escort program at all stadiums, and one McCafe coffee- house-style outlet outside the international media centre at the country’s main stadium in Johannesburg, which will host both the opening and final games.

Also, earlier this month, Anheuser- Busch InBev NV, the maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois, ceded their rights to be the exclusive beer provider inside stadiums.

What’s going on here?

Is it related to the fact, as Mr. Derby reports, that:

South Africa earlier this month cut its visitor estimate for the tournament to 350,000 people from 450,000 previously, with only 100,000 international air tickets having being sold three months before the event?

Are sponsors expecting lower tourism related revenue opportunities?  Are Anheuser-Busch Inbev NV gambling that there will be more money to be made (or less to lose) by focusing on their operations outside the stadiums and fan parks, like McDonald’s are doing.  Are they dropping South Africa (and Africa) as a market?  Are they just anticipating and mitigating the risk of angering fans for only offering Budweiser at the stadiums, particularly in light of their main competitor, SABMiller (SAB = South African Brewery), being a South African born brand?

Or did SABMiller, pay their rival A LOT of money to take over their rights?  It seems like that’s pretty feasible, given that they just reached an agreement with FIFA to supply as many as 10 million beers at the 10 fan parks, serving up to 280,000 people a day, that have been built to cater to fans unable to get game tickets. Perhaps on a per game basis they calculated greater opportunity to build their brand locally (and sales) outside the stadium knowing that the majority of those watching from the fan parks (rather than the majority of those in the stadium) will be the folks remaining in the country after the games are done.

Whatever the reason is, I’m assuming it was a calculated decision; it just seems strange for a sponsor to pay all that money for the sponsorship rights only to give them up 2.5 months before the games begin.

This is a very interesting trend and I’ll be curious to to learn more about the underlying motives of McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

For Mr. Derby’s full article, click here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=am4CpTMfPov0

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Guest Post: Compton Kids in South Africa? Let’s help them get there!

Compton Kids in South Africa?

By Mike Herman, President & Founder Compton United Soccer Club

Kids from Compton don’t usually get around much.  Some haven’t been two hours away to the mountains.  Some haven’t even been to the beach 20 minutes away.

So how is it possible that 10 Compton kids are planning to go to the other side of the globe to Johannesburg, South Africa?

In one word… soccer (or futbol, football, etc.).

Soccer is undeniably, the most universal and popular sport in the world.  It is played everywhere.  From the dirt fields of South America to the plains of Kenya, to the slums of Liverpool where the game was founded, anyone can be a “footballer”.  The game does not discriminate by age, size, race, creed, color or socioeconomic status.

Sports in general, and soccer specifically, can be a powerful tool to bring communities together – communities like Compton and Mamelodi, a poor suburb outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Our Compton United kids are meeting up with African kids in Mamelodi to play in the Hope Cup Tournament. Bridge to Cross (the organization that has brought the model of Boys and Girls Clubs to South Africa) hosts this annual tournament.  The Compton United Boy’s Under 15 team will participate with 16 other international youth teams in a week- long celebration of youth and hope.

Jose Hernandez, Captain of U15 team

Jose Hernandez, the Captain of the Compton United U15 team is excited about the trip.  He says,

“I am excited because we will show other kids that not only professionals can travel around the world but we can as well.  The best thing about going to South Africa is that we all get to have a new experience in soccer, and we get to visit a new place that none of us have been, and learn about a different culture”.

The main mission of Compton United and Bridge to Cross goes far more  just soccer games.  Soccer is a tremendous tool for youth and leadership development; this lies at the heart of the two organizations.  Hope Cup players will also participate in a large community service project, as they help repair and build a school in Mamelodi.  They will also visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and have discussions on race in their cultures.

Compton and Mamelodi are quite different but also very similar.  They both have kids full of potential but limited on resources. They both have teens and young adults that have lost most, if not all, the hope they had as children. They are also both communities devastated by poverty, hunger, homelessness, sickness, crime and despair.

The Hope Cup players will see firsthand how hope can transform people and ultimately transform communities.

The players and staff are tremendously excited about this trip.  It will be life changing for everyone.

However, funding has been slow and everyone is working hard to bring in investors for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For more information on the trip, please visit, http://tr.im/cuscwc2010b

For more information on the fund raising, please visit, http://tr.im/cuscwc2010

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.  -Christopher Reeve

About the Author:

Mike Herman is the President and Founder of the Compton United Soccer Club in Compton, CA.

Compton United Soccer Club was created to fill the absence of sanctioned, quality youth soccer programs in the inner city.

The Compton United Mission Statement:

Our Mission: Through the sport of soccer and the resources of US Soccer, develop a new generation of leaders who excel in all aspects of life: mentally, physically, socially, spiritually, and emotionally, to ultimately help develop our community into a model of social, economic and spiritual transformation.

For more information see www.comptonunited.org or email Mike at mike.herman@comptonunited.org or follow Mike on Twitter @urbanfocus

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ESPN Outside the Lines video on youth soccer in shadow of World Cup

Screen shot from ESPN.com

ESPN recently published a short video titled “Tough Goals Ahead.”  You can see the video at this link (couldn’t embed into post): http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4973258

The most poignant part of the video, in my opinion, is at the end, around the 5:50 mark.  Lahademi Monhedi, a former player now coach/father figure for youth teams in the Meadowlands area of Soweto, indignantly stated,

“People are angry.  Around here there is no World Cup…we just hear from the news there is a World Cup…for these boys there is no World Cup…there is no connection at all.”

These statements are a reflection of the inequities that are still alive and well in South Africa, now less than a 100 days to kick-off.  The video is largely about youth soccer and the challenges of life in the Meadowlands area of Soweto, only 6 miles from the gleaming new stadium Soccer City in Johannesburg, the result of a remarkable amount of investment.  The challenge of kids getting to and from school or soccer practice without succumbing to the pressures of drugs and alcohol; the challenge of staying committed to education when only 2 of 10 teachers show up to teach their classes.  All of these challenges are still commonplace in the shadow of the new stadium and I imagine they are shared all around the country.

Mr. Monhedi’s statements lie at the heart of this blog.  Will the legacy of the World Cup be a bright light but with a long shadow? Will it have “no connection” as he states, with the majority of the population?  Will it be a symbol of profligacy in the face of real economic and social needs?  Or will it be a spark for the country and region?  Time will tell, but the content of this video illustrates that there’s a lot more work to do.

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Chinese renewable energy firm becomes World Cup sponsor

It was recently reported in Africa Business Source, that a Chinese green energy firm, Yingli, became the first Chinese company to become an official 2010 World Cup sponsor. This should not be shocking given China’s recent interest (and investment) all over the African continent. But it is an interesting move given the “green” credentials of the company. Not only are they spreading the renewable energy gospel around the continent with their sponsorship they are also getting in on some of the other CSR initiatives such as the 20 Centres for 2010, the Official Campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, by providing solar panels.”

Of course Yingli sees the benefits of their sponsorship as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy, Liansheng Miao stated

“as one of the world’s leading solar companies we are excited to be joining other world-class brands as an international sponsor of the FIFA World Cup.  This sponsorship links Yingli Green Energy to the world’s most popular and passionately followed sport. We feel privileged to have this opportunity, and look forward to offering our expertise to help FIFA leverage this much-loved sport to promote a better, greener environment.This sponsorship links Yingli Green Energy to the world’s most popular and passionately followed sport. We feel privileged to have this opportunity, and look forward to offering our expertise to help FIFA leverage this much-loved sport to promote a better, greener environment.”

If the price of solar continues to decrease as energy efficiency improves, I can see solar becoming a major player around the Continent.  Becoming a household name in solar energy in Africa seems like a really smart move by Yingli and I could see this  sponsorship investment having a very high ROI.  Their sponsorship immediately gives them extensive brand coverage and puts them in the same light as major brands such as Satyam, Continental, Coca-Cola, Adidas, etc.  It will be interesting to see how else Yingli decides to take advantage of this opportunity and engage with communities and countries all over the continent.

For the full article click here:  http://www.africabusinesssource.com/articles/world-cup-2010-articles/yingli-green-energy-becomes-first-chinese-company-to-sponsor-2010-fifa-world-cup/

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Good news! Joburg’s hawkers allowed in on the World Cup action!

According to an article on SouthAfrica.info, street vendors will be allowed to cash-in on the 2010 World Cup, as long as they adhere to FIFA’s by-laws. This is welcome news in light of previous reports of FIFA and the South African government cracking down on these hopeful entrepreneurs. I had written about the plight of some small business owners during the 2009 Confederations Cup and it was expected that the crackdown during the upcoming World Cup would be even more severe.

The article quotes 2010 spokeswoman, Sibongile Mazibuko, as stating:

Though trading will not be permitted in exclusion zones around the stadiums on match days, new opportunities are being created for traders to benefit from being situated in high-fan traffic areas.”

She further advised informal traders to join programmes designed by the city’s department of economic development to help coach them through the tournament.

Mazibuko also stated that:

“Traders can further cash-in on new opportunities by selling food to secure clients such as the city’s 2010 volunteer workforce, the staff working at the event and VIP guests of the city.  Traders are, however, expected to comply with Fifa by-laws by avoiding selling illeal counterfeit goods, engaging in ambush marketing or trading along protocol main routes outside demarcated trading areas.”

Lastly the article states:

The Johannesburg metropolitan municipality was also hosting several parallel events at which accredited traders would be able to sell their wares.  These included fan fests at Innes Free Park, in Sandton, and at Elkah Stadium, in Soweto, which accommodated 30 000 or more fans.

This isn’t a perfect solution but it’s better than I expected.  FIFA is still going to aggressively protect the rights of sponsors to sell within  designated zones, but at least they’ve acknowledged, rather than tried to ignore, the many entrepreneurs who were looking to benefit from the excitement around the games and influx of tourists. However, the majority of free-spending tourists will likely not be viewing games from Sandton or Soweto, so entrepreneurs are losing out on that huge opportunity, but it’s better than nothing.  Hopefully, this initiative from the 2010 city council will be well-received by South Africans rather than a reason for further ire.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/news/business/31654.htm

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Adidas vs. Puma vs. Nike Infographic

Infographic from Meet The Boss

I recently came across a neat infographic on PSFK from the Meet The Boss site.  The static image to the left doesn’t do the infographic justice so I would recommend you click on this image and go straight to the Meet The Boss link.  There you can zoom in and read the small type and get more of a holistic understanding of the histories and backgrounds of the Big 3.

Basically this infographic provides the histories of Adidas, Nike, and Puma, the three biggest sports brands in the world.  As PSFK states:

In anticipation of this Summer’s World Cup, this infographic depicts the three key global athletic footwear brands that will be battling for best representation, and visible association with top teams and players, during and after the global championship. The graphic informs on the size (revenues), leadership, acquisition history and brand portfolios of Adidas, Puma and Nike – with Nike still being the global lead (in terms of revenue), but with Adidas catching up quickly.

The article also poses the question:

It will be interesting to see how the World Cup – and each brand’s representation within it -impacts their sales of soccer-related merchandise, and total revenues.

I’ve written about this issue on this site before so it’s interesting to see it addressed by some sites I really respect.  And as the games get even closer, it will be interesting to see how each of these three brands steps up their efforts to leverage the attention around the World Cup during the summer of 2010.  And as I’ve promoted, I firmly believe CSR efforts could do a lot to win “hearts and minds” throughout South Africa, the Continent and beyond.

To read the PSFK article click here:

http://www.psfk.com/2010/02/infographic-adidas-vs-puma-vs-nike.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+psfk%2Fif+%28PSFK+News+[Was+Marktd]%29

However something that’s caught my eye is Puma’s effort to authentically own African football.  I believe they’ve been deliberate in this effort by sponsoring many African national teams over the years, but if you watch the video below, you can tell they’ve invested in the idea of African football as a whole.  They recognize that this World Cup belongs to all of Africa, and by leveraging the stars they have as spokespeople (John Mensah, Emanual Eboue, Samuel E’to), they can connect with consumers around the Continent.  I think it’s a smart strategy.  Also, it’s a beautifully shot piece and I for one would be very happy to see Puma continue creating pieces like this.

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Video Interview featured on Business & Development

I recently had the honor to be interviewed by Marco Puccia for his Business & Development site on the topic of the World Cup and CSR.  Please visit his site at the link below to view the video.  And if you are interested in watching the video, Marco was kind enough to provide a timeline of the (rather) long video.

http://www.marcopuccia.com/2010/02/video-interview-worldcupcsr-blogger-john-kim/

00:00 – 01:00 Introduction
01:00 – 03:11 About John Kim and Interest in WorldCupCSR
03:11 – 05:37 Creating Sustainable Infrastructure
05:37 – 07:08 How Did You Decide to Explore This Topic Via Blogging?
07:08 – 10:17 Trends and Major Players
10:17 – 12:43 How Are Sponsors Engaging in CSR?
12:43 – 13:31 Nike
13:31 – 15:03 One Goal Campaign
15:03 – 16:20 Nestle
16:20 – 17:07 MTN
17:07 – 19:13 IBM
19:13 – 21:21 ADIDAS
21:21 – 23:07 Do Firms Look At South Africa or Africa as a Viable Market?
23:07 – 24:44 Why Should Companies Engage in CSR / Cause Marketing Efforts Around the World Cup?
24:44 – 26:32 While in The Global Spotlight, What Does South Africa Have to Gain?

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Nestle spreads the word about Milo via youth-focused football tournaments

Multi-national food and beverage giant Nestle, has thrown their contribution into the ring with regards to CSR initiatives around the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.  Their 2009 project, the Milo Champions tournament, “brought almost 6 000 schools from around South Africa together in Soweto to compete for the trophy, as well as R100 000 (US$13 300) for the winning school to invest in a health, wellness or nutrition initiative.”  Now, according to an article on Media Club South Africa, Nestle, via it’s Milo brand, has extended its Champions Tournament to the rest of the Continent.

“About 94 500 would-be football stars participated in the 2009 tournament, with around 75 000 children from some 4 800 schools taking part in the 2008 event.  Global food giant Nestlé has invested generously in the Milo Champions tournament. In addition to the grand prize, each provincial winner walked off with R10 000 ($1 320), while the runner-up took home R75 000 and the third-placed team won R50 000 ($6 600).”

The article continues:

The programme is intended primarily to foster young football talent in South Africa while promoting an enthusiasm for the beautiful game and an awareness of the importance of healthy living. As well as valuable football coaching from top players, all participants received comprehensive nutritional education.

And in a smart move, Nestle has taken the competition to the rest of the continent, leveraging the Continental excitement generated by the on-going African Cup of Nations, and the anticipation of the upcoming World Cup.   According to the article:

In anticipation of the first World Cup to take place on African soil, the Milo brand is deepening its association with football in South Africa by extending the Champions tournament to the entire African continent.

The inaugural African Milo Champions tournament was launched in September 2009 and features top under-13 teams from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Regional stages are already underway, and the final will take place in South Africa in May 2010, just before the month-long Fifa World Cup kicks off in June.

Nestle, though not an official sponsor of the World Cup, is smartly leveraging the excitement around football to increase awareness of their youth-focused Milo brand as well as give back to schools and students around South Africa and the Continent.  This sort of event is right in-line with the Milo brand which focuses on nutrition and active lifestyles for children.  While children aren’t the end-buyers, you can be sure that if a good experience was had with Milo and Nestle through this initiative (and if the products taste good, they’ll be asking their parents to pick up Milo during trips to the grocery.

Well done Nestle.  And well-done to have noticed the excitement that will be gripping the entire Continent (rather than focusing only on South Africa) and using this opportunity to increase their brand awareness in markets around the Continent.

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Discussion on Jan 15 about legacy of World Cup

According to the great site and resource, BizCommunity.com, CNBC in South Africa will host an on-air discussion of the World Cup’s legacy on “South Africa and the continent once the final goal is scored at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.” I SO WISH I COULD BE THERE!

As reported on BizCommunity:

Produced by CNBC Africa, the first recording will take place on Friday 15 January 2010 from 7 – 8.30pm at its studios in Sandton and will air on Wednesday 27 January at 8pm.

Issues

This first debate will focus on issues surrounding marketing strategies of sponsors ahead of 2010 and during the event. What legacy will sponsors leave for the development of soccer and sectors on the continent? What initiatives are sponsors undertaking that will leave a legacy for the people of South Africa? How do sponsors intend to create South African brand ambassadors from tourists who will be visiting our shores? A specialist panel of guests will spend 60 minutes in front of the studio audience discussing pertinent points around soccer, infrastructure, social and political opportunities.

As seating is limited, email Denham Pons denham.pons@cnbcafrica.com by January 14 2010 to attend the debate.

If ANYONE is going, I would love to hear about the discussion.  And if you’re able to go, I would highly recommend it.

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Tragedy in Angola; Effects on South Africa?

The African Nations Cup, the bi-annual tournament, taking place in Angola this year was supposed to open the celebration of football on the continent.  Though not related, it was regarded as a wonderful prelude to the World Cup in South Africa, coming up later in the year. However, as many readers likely know, before a single ball was kicked, the tournament began in tragedy.  As reported on ESPNSoccernet.com, on January 9th,

“Gunmen in an area plagued by separatist violence used machine guns to open fire Friday on a bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to a tournament in this southwest African country, killing the driver and wounding at least nine people, including two players.”

Reports are still coming in, but it has now been confirmed that there have been at least 3 deaths.  After initially wanting to carry on and play in the tournament, the Togo national team has pulled out and will be returning to Togo on Sunday via presidential plane.

This is an absolute tragedy for all of the players, families, players involved, and a blow to the footballing world.  And in light of the upcoming World Cup, what was supposed to be a celebration leading up to the event has been transformed into a time of mourning.  However, I do hope that the words, if not the attitude, spoken by Danny Jordaan of the World Cup organizing committee, are taken to heart by the global community.  Jordaan, one of the leading advocates for the World Cup and South Africa has asked the world to make the distinction between Angola and South Africa rather than let the event cast a shadow over the entire continent.  As reported on ESPN,

Jordaan offered his sympathies to Nations Cup hosts Angola, admitting the bus attack was a blow for the country but re-iterated his frustrations with the world “tainting” South Africa with the same brush.

“I feel very sorry for the Angolans because they have spent billions on fixing up their cities and building infrastructure for this tournament. This was going to be the event that would mark their transition from decades of war to a new social and economic order. In that context, it’s a blow.”

“The world must be balanced and must not apply different standards when it comes to the African continent. Our World Cup is secure and we are confident because we have employed a lot of resources to safeguard the event in our country.”

I generally agree with Jordaan and hope that the tragedy in Angola does not mar people’s perceptions of South Africa.  I have to believe the games will be secure and safe.  However, these events harshly remind us of the difficulties on the Continent as well as the rest of the World.

But I hope that the world, fans, sponsors, etc. take the attitude of Didier Drogba, the striker for the Ivory Coast, when he says:

“People have an opinion of Africa and it is not so good, but we have to let sport unite us all…They see us as being behind the rest of the world in financial and in sporting terms, but this year give us a chance to show people a different Africa. “Africa has some problems, we all know that, but we all have a chance to make 2010 the special year that puts this continent on the sporting map forever. We have this Africa Cup of Nations and then there is the big prize of the World Cup.”

Here here.  The World Cup is Africa’s games, not just South Africa, and has the potential to elevate the Continent as a whole.  I just hope that the opportunity isn’t lost, that the rest of the African Nation’s Cup brings joy, and the world’s game can be fully celebrated in Africa. May we all unite around the Togo national team.

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New Posts in New Year, but Happy Holidays & Thanks to All; Invictus dissapointment

Huge apologies to all the great readers and fans of this blog.  I wouldn’t be sending apologies (since there likely wouldn’t have been anyone to apologize to) if not for the great support I’ve received from you over this crazy year.

As many of you know, I’ve recently started a new job as “A Better World Marketing Manager” for Herman Miller, Inc., (www.hermanmiller.com) the fabled furniture and design company based in Western Michigan.  I’m completely thrilled to be joining this great company and continue to help sustain their leadership in corporate citizenship.  And not surprisingly, due to their history of encouraging the passions of their employees, Herman Miller has agreed to allow me to maintain my travels to the World Cup in South Africa and investigate CSR efforts around the games!

So…I started the new job just before the holidays and with leaving my previous job, I haven’t had time to write.  I promise, especially as we march closer to the 2010 games, the posts and discussion will continue to come.  I promise.

So thanks to a great conclusion to 2009 and here’s to an even better 2010!

But before I go, I would like to share some thoughts on the movie Invictus, that was recently released.  If you’re reading this blog, you likely know the premise of the story: Rugby was the sport of white, Apartheid-era South Africa.  South Africa, experiencing a run of poor form, was hosting the Rugby World Cup in 1995, right after the official end of Apartheid.  Also in 1994, Nelson Mandela had been elected President of  the “new South Africa” as it began it’s re-entry to the world community.  However at this stage, the country was still racked by uneasiness of the still fresh past, and fear of the what the future would bring.  Mandela, in his wisdom and grace, seized this opportunity to unite the divided country around the Springboks, the South African national rugby team.  Mandela enlisted Francois Pienaar, captain of the team, to inspire his teammates to greatness.  Reluctantly at first, the team took on the responsibility and placed the hopes of the country on their shoulders, and took the team, and their country mates, to greatness.  Beyond all expectations, the Springboks won the 1995 World Cup, only one year after the official end of Apartheid.

Now, this is a compelling story.  And with the venerable, Clint Eastwood directing actors such as Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, you would think this would be a recipe for success.  And you would be disappointed.  In my opinion, the movie was poorly made, cliched, and did little to capture the emotion and gravity of the event.  But what do I know, I’m not a movie critic.

The timing of the movie was apropos in the lead up to the World Cup.  It’s just a shame it was poorly executed.  (Again, in my own opinion).

However, the movie, with all the scenes of South Africa and the excitement around sport, did get my wife and I extremely excited for the upcoming World Cup. And it was a great representation of an example of when sport is larger and more powerful than just a game.  In this case, it served to truly unite a country.  I truly think this event was catalytic in setting the country on the right track after Apartheid.  And I believe the 2010 World Cup could serve as another catalytic event to lead South Africa, and the region, into their next stage of growth.

Pledge My Seat is now LIVE! Pledge here!

Kick4Change’s Pledge My Seat campaign went live on December 4th, the day of the World Cup Draw.  This occasion was exciting for the teams participating of course, but also for the millions of people who can now participate in the Pledge My Seat program and for the hundreds of thousands of children in Africa who will be benefit from their new 4sport boots!

From Jamie and Simon, the co-founders of Kick4Change:

PledgeMySeat is a global legacy campaign created by award winning social enterprise kick4change CIC.  The aim is to send 94,700 brand new football boots to underprivileged African children.

  Based on the venue of the 2010 World Cup final, we are selling seats in our virtual stadium. Every seat pledged represents a pair of new football boots that we’ll send to our charity partners who all use football as a building block of social change. The boots will be used to engage children in educational programmes, dealing with issues such as HIV awareness and dealing with the stigma of having Aids, as well as teaching basic life skills such as respect for others and self esteem.

In pledging your seat, you’ll receive a unique seat number that will automatically enter you into a prize draw.  Amongst the prizes is the chance to win a trip to Africa to play in an All Star football tournament and the opportunity to assist one of our charity partners in delivering their educational programmes.

All profits generated from this campaign will be reinvested back into a variety of UK beneficiaries including schools, grass root clubs, community initiatives and good causes.  Please support us in our ‘Home and Away’ campaign, helping create a lasting legacy amongst children from the 2010 World Cup.

I just pledged my seat early and now have a “front row” seat for the World Cup.  For the price of 1 full pair of 4sport boots, £14.99, you can “purchase” your seat; where will you be sitting? As of December 7th, 763 seats have been pledged.  If you can’t actually  be in South Africa for the games, this is a wonderful way to directly participate.

Will your seat be connected to a pair of football boots for the next generation of African footballers, teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, innovators, etc.?  Who knows, but let’s do one small thing that may help give them a chance.

Follow @kick4change on Twitter to stay updated on the Pledge My Seat program.  Please use #pledgemyseat if tweeting about the initiative!

And for a link to an earlier interview with the founders of Kick4Change, click here: http://worldcupcsr.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/interview-with-jamie-tosh-of-kick4change-a-new-social-enterprise/

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NY Times: Drogba & Nike placing their stamp on the games for good (and good exposure)

The New York Times recently (Dec. 2) published an article about Didier Drogba, Chelsea striker and Arsenal killer, teaming up with Nike and Bono to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS.  Drogba, also a star player for the Ivory Coast, and probably the highest profile African player in the English Premier League, in this past weekend’s game against Arsenal, celebrated a goal by taking off a shoe, showing his red laces to the crowd.  As the article states:

The significance of those laces became clear Monday when Drogba and the singer Bono launched their “Lace Up. Save Lives” initiative with Nike in London.

On the eve of World AIDS Day, and four days before the world focuses on Cape Town, this was a commercial hijacking laced with genuine charity.”

Bad timing for Arsenal fans.  Great timing for Nike and for World Aids Day (this past December 1).

As the article continues, Droba,

As a Nike front man… leads a band of soccer stars joining up with Bono’s known crusade to do something about diseases across the continent. The tie up with Nike and the Global Fund is aimed to coincide with World Cup year, and to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Nike is pretty brilliant.  While they know they can’t place their ubiquitous “swoosh” on any FIFA World Cup 2010 related gear, they are still taking full advantage of the opportunity to place their stamp on the upcoming games in South Africa.  And likely in parallel to product marketing and athlete sponsorships, they are doing it with some good old cause marketing.  The Lace Up, Save Lives campaign asks supporters to buy a pair of Lace Up, Save Lives red shoe laces and the proceeds will go to support efforts providing anti-retrovirals, AIDS education, etc. for those suffering with HIV/AIDS in Africa. And as the article states,

The commercial element comes with Nike’s noninvolvement on any official level with FIFA, the owner of the World Cup. The governing body of world soccer has an exclusive partnership with the German sportswear company Adidas. That means that if Nike wants to be seen around the tournament it has to think up imaginative ways to trump the “official sponsor” Adidas can stamp on its products.

Nike’s publicity machine is as smart and as forceful at marketing as Drogba is in the goalmouth. But when the cause is as worthy as this one, when commerce and charity can be blended to such needy effect, it would be churlish not to applaud it.

I couldn’t agree more.  Some would argue that more money could be sent directly to organizations than that raised through this cause marketing initiative.  Other critics would likely say that more money is being spent to publicize the effort (and Nike) than will go to help those in need.  Some of this may end up being true.   But knowing Drogba’s track record of using his celebrity AND riches to help his fellow African (he recently committed the $5 million sponsorship he gained for being the African face of Pepsi to build a hospital in Abidjan, Ivory Coast) I think his motivation is genuine and, in turn, I hope Nike’s motivation is also to do good, while also doing a little brand profile raising in Africa.

This is a great and creative example of a company using CSR (cause marketing in this case) as a marketing tool during the build up to the first World Cup hosted in Africa.  This a smart way to increase their brand awareness in an African football market dominated by competitors, Puma and Adidas.  And this is a particularly creative way of getting past FIFA’s stringent ambush marketing regulations.  Let’s hope some of the other companies (sponsors or not) take notice of Nike’s efforts and creativity.

To read the full article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/sports/soccer/02iht-SOCCER.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

To join the Lace Up for Lives campaign on Twitter, click here: http://inside.nike.com/blogs/nikefootball-en_GB/2009/11/30/join-the-fight-on-twitter

To post info about the campaign on your Facebook wall, click here:  http://www.nike.com/nikefootball/red/home?locale=en_GB

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Adidas and Yunus team up to make 1 euro sneaker

Recently Adidas announced plans to make a 1 euro sneaker!  They have teamed up with Muhamed Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Ashoka fellow, founder of Grameen bank, and all around awesome human being, to design and produce a 1 euro shoe for the BOP market (bottom of the pyramid), starting in Bangladesh.

According to a news release:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus suggested the “social business” project to the company, which normally focuses on trendy, expensive sportswear for people who want to project a sporty image.

Yunus advised Adidas that people in the poor world need products that are both affordable and manufactured locally, creating jobs.  The first Adidas non-profit shoes will be made in and for Bangladesh.

Adidas Group spokesperson Jan Runau said at the company’s head office in Herzogenaurach that the “one-euro” price-tag was more a concept and did not mean the shoes really would be that inexpensive.  More specifically, the product is to be sold at no more than the cost of materials and manufacture. A memorandum of intent has been signed.

This is pretty impressive.  Not only is this a savvy business move to tap into the billions of potential consumers in the “bottom of the pyramid” market, but it is a truly compassionate move by the company.  I’m surprised – this seems like a move Nike would make – but this is an amazing way to extend the brand while providing access to a basic human need to billions; shoes may not sound like much but they can prevent many easily avoidable health problems as well as inspire more children to participate in sport.

And kudos to Adidas for teaming up with Mohamed Yunus, one of the true giants working to end poverty around the world.  I couldn’t think of a better, more genuine, and respected figure to have developed this partnership with.

Let’s just hope that as they continue this partnership, Adidas sticks to the contents of their MOI (which I’m sure Yunus has combed overly closely), to keep the jobs in Bangladesh and the price point of these shoes extremely low.

I’m looking forward to tracking this project; I would be very curious to know if they plan on engaging the southern Africa market pre or post the World Cup with these shoes.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=29&art_id=iol1258316925203G655

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Northern Ireland won’t compete on field but preparing to win in business

A recent article in the Belfast Telegraph described the upcoming trip of 15 Northern Ireland companies to South Africa as part of an Invest NI trade mission.  While Northern Ireland didn’t qualify for the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, these companies, mostly new to the South Africa market, are eager to build relationships in the country and region; they obviously see the opportunity.  These companies represent a cross-section of contemporary Northern Ireland industry ranging from engineering, ICT, life sciences, and agri-products.

As reported in the article:

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI trade director, said the mission aimed to strengthen relationships with the South African business community.

South Africa is a rapidly developing market with strong economic growth and high potential offering Northern Ireland companies a breadth of opportunity for innovative and export focused business,” she said.

“I also believe there is substantial potential for companies in South Africa to explore new markets or expand their sales in Europe by making use of our experience of the EU marketplace.

“Similarly, South African partnerships make good business sense for Northern Ireland companies interested in developing their sales and presence in the region.”

Let the slow clap ensue.  Bravo!  It is wonderful to see an entire country, not only daring (and intelligent) companies, seeing the opportunity in South Africa.  While Northern Ireland won’t be participating on the field, I bet the investment in time, networking, and relationship building, being made in the region now will yield returns long after the games have come and gone.

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US mobile content provider using World Cup to grow brand in South Africa

ba-cell_phones_schools_0498529787

via Google Images & http://www.sfchronicle.us

A recent article on the web site, IT News Africa, broke news about Cole Solutions, LLC, an American mobile content and applications provider, beginning to operate in the South African market.  They plan on leveraging their success in delivering quality content during and up to the 2010 World Cup in order to build their brand in South Africa and other nearby markets.

The article quotes Ayodale Cole, the founder and CEO of Cole Solutions, saying:

“Much attention has been given to 2010 broadcasting concerns. We’d like to make sure that the Soccer World Cup is as much of a success on the small screen as on the big screen. Key to that success will be the ability to deliver the kind of mobile content that perfectly complements and enhances the overall appeal of the tournament.”

More technical details of their planned business operations in South Africa, according to the article

“Operating under its SMSStreamer.mobi brand, Cole Solutions LLC has committed itself to responsible mobile practices in the South African market and recently became an affiliate member of the Wireless Application Service Provider Association of SA (WASPA). WASPA regulates the local mobile content and applications market and invests considerable resources to ensure the responsible marketing of mobile services.

Cole Solutions’ vote of confidence in the South African mobile market will also have a positive knock-on effect locally as the company is using a domestic aggregator to ensure mobile subscribers across all cellular networks are able to access SMSStreamer.mobi content. In addition, Cole Solutions has retained the services of a South African mobile marketing consultancy to assist in the acquisition of new mobile subscribers through WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) advertising.

That South Africa is seen as a springboard to the African continent is clear from Cole Solutions’ plans to manage its current and future African operations in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Benin from Johannesburg where they will be under the supervision of a Managing Director for African Affairs. “Geographically, the country might be located at the Southern end of the continent, but economically, South Africa lies right at the heart of Africa. That especially true when it comes to the uptake of mobile content and services,” commented Mr. Cole.

Aside from FIFA Soccer World Cup content, Cole Solutions also has mobile rights to play-by-play football content from the English Premier League, Spanish Premier League, Italian Premier League and the French Premier League. “We’re aware that the English Premier League has many fans in South Africa but it’s time now to broaden the focus and start delivering mobile content from other first division leagues around the world,” said Mr. Cole.

In terms of applications on offer, Cole Solutions will soon launch a mobile service that is essentially the SMS version of social networking. “There are many overseas mobile firms operating in the South African market. However, practically all of them only provide content and very little else that could be said to be of real value to local mobile users. We feel that mobile content and mobile applications are two sides of the same coin and you can’t develop a country’s mobile sector without paying attention to both. Cole Solutions will play in the content space, for sure, but we also have a serious focus on adding value to the lives of mobile users by developing useful applications that make owning a cellphone even more desirable,” concluded Mr. Cole.”

This is one of the first times I’ve heard of any company, American or otherwise, out-right say that they see the World Cup as a entry point for expanding operations in the country and region.  I think it’s great acknowledgment of the opportunity that exists surrounding the games and throughout the country and Continent.  I wish them well and would be curious to know what they plan to do in the country region, CSR-wise, besides just providing services, in order to build their brand.

For the full and original article, click here: http://www.itnewsafrica.com/?p=3256

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Castrol and Grass Roots Soccer!

castrol_square

via Google Images & cartype.com

Castrol, one of the official sponsors of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has recently struck up a partnership with Grass Roots Soccer, an innovative (and great!) NGO that utilizes soccer/football to educate children and communities about HIV/AIDS.

They work all over Africa and have a particularly impressive presence in South Africa.  This partnership, helped Grass Roots Soccer launch the Castrol Skillz Holiday Programme which “uses football as a platform to enhance HIV/Aids awareness amongst young people between the ages of 10 and 14.”

I was introduced to Grass Roots Soccer by someone who knows the co-founder, Ethan Zohn (former winner of TV reality show, Survivor and current cancer battler).  It’s a truly remarkable organization founded by some pretty remarkable people.  I think it’s fantastic that Castrol, a sponsor, has launched this partnership with a recognized and highly respected NGO.  This is one of the first CSR-like initiatives I’ve heard of by a major sponsor (besides the Continental AG job-training program).  Other sponsors such as Budweiser and Sony have launched major marketing campaigns but I hope this initiative by Castrol is an indication that the other major sponsors will be getting involved in similar programs.

Anyway, I learned of the launch of this partnership through the Grass Roots Soccer blog where they wrote about the program launch.

Bridget Nkuna, Corporate Social Investment Manager at Castrol stated ““I loved every minute of it. You could see the children were thoroughly enjoying it and the coaches held their attention throughout the exercise. It was amazing to actually see how key messages around HIV/Aids were threaded into the activities, providing the children with a novel way of learning about HIV/Aids.”

And commenting on the inspiration for Castrol’s participation Ms. Nkuna continues to state:

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ is an exciting time for the whole nation but it will also be a demanding time as South Africans still have to contribute towards the economy while taking care of a family. Through the Castrol Skillz Holiday Programme, we hope to provide some welcome relief for parents who can still continue working, knowing that their children are safe and are being entertained and educated during the holidays.”

The programme feeds into the FIFA Football for Hope movement, which is a strategic alliance, led by FIFA and streetfootballworld to bring together programmes aimed at children and young people using football as an instrument to promote participation and dialogue.

“Football is a great tool for breaking down social barriers, and with the increased interest and excitement of the World Cup, it has become the ideal vessel for getting a message across. Through our partnership with Grassroot Soccer, we feel that we have identified the perfect opportunity to empower the youth with positive, self-affirming life skills information that will serve them well into the future.”

Schools will be closed during the June-July period of next year’s games.  Castrol has identified the burden this may place on families (parents working and kids out of school for a whole month) and stepped in to support Grass Roots Soccer’s efforts to provide structured activities as well as life-skills/health educational opportunities, while still celebrating the games.  As Castrol notes

“Further Castrol Skillz Holiday Programmes will also be taking place during the extended public school holiday period that has been confirmed to run concurrently with the 2010 World Cup tournament activity.”

Kudos to Castrol for supporting an organization and initiative such as this.  I can’t say it makes sense for their brand or know if they think this will enhance their brand, but regardless it is a great partnership and definitely something to celebrate.  Now let’s hope that this is the beginning of other sponsors/brands getting on board with CSR initiatives in the lead up to the games!

For full post from the Grass Roots Soccer blog, click here: http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/2009/10/26/castrol-supports-8-skillz-holiday-programs-in-south-africa/

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Guest Post: Dzcus-sion on why WorldCup2010 in South Africa will be one of the best ever

I’ve written about the great new wiki Dzcus_Worldcup a few times on this blog now.  Well, recently I had the chance to talk with Matthew, the creator of the site.  We had a lovely conversation and he was kind enough to write a guest post to provide his perspective on the site, the purpose, and other thoughts.

Thanks Matthew!  His post follows:

_________________________________________________________________________________________

I recently launched a Q&A website on South Africa and the World Cup called dzcus worldcup2010 (As in ‘discuss’ the worldcup2010). The website aims to provide factual and relevant advice to the fans or tourists visiting South Africa during WorldCup2010.

John Kim who actively tweets and blogs about CSR and South Africa, found my website on the Internet based on a post I made and contacted me. We started talking and discovered many common interests and goals.  He invited me to contribute to this blog as a guest.  I am very flattered and excited that John found value in my idea and that he is interested in having me introduce my wiki to some of the influential readers that visit his blog.

To start with, my site is not a discussion forum.  The key difference here is  that the community gets to vote on all the question and answers, the idea being that the wisdom of crowds is better the knowledge of a few. The best (or most voted) answers and questions flow up to the top where they are easily found and the users that post the best questions and answers are rewarded by what is called reputation points.  The voting and the reputation built up over time, authenticates and gives the answers a level of validity that you could not associate to a simple answer culled from an Internet search.

So why did I create this? I created this site because contrary to all the alarmist, sensationalist naysayers out there( guardian.co.ukNew York Times included),  I think this World Cup is going to be one of the greatest ever and I wanted to be a part of it. I also feel that it provides an opportunity for ‘ordinary’ South Africans to tell you how it really is.

This year Woodstock featured a lot in the news in celebration of its 40th anniversary. When I think of World Cup 2010, I think of it as the Woodstock of our generation.  Yes there is going to be mud but it is also going to be a social, culture and economic pivotal moment that will be talked about by our children and our children’s children.  After all football and rock & roll share a common philosophy, in that it is mainly about having a great party and having a good time.

This is not just an optimistic statement I just made and my reasoning behind this is not the amazing goals I know that Lionel Messi is going to score, or because South Africa is a beautiful country, or the diski dance, or the delicious South African wines, or Kruger national park or because of the best efforts of the Organizers. The reason is that this is World Cup2.0, South Africa could not have picked a more opportune time to host the World Cup.  Social 2.0 technologies have matured and their adoption has reached tipping point. What this means is that this event is going blogged, tweeted, facebooked, youtubed, ninged, and visualized on a scale that has never been seen before. The whole world will socialize and interact this event, and we are all going to be there. Permanent lasting memories will be captured in unique ways and this is why this event this going to be so pivotal.

I also believe that this event will have a lasting social impact on Africa. World Cup 2010 because of all this priceless Social2.0 publicity is going drive tourism and business up in South Africa for years to come.  Social issues of the African continent will become more visible and the more “net-izens” around the globe get involved, the better the chances of some of the continent’s problems being solved.  I strongly believe that technology is great equalizer and game changer.  In today’s web 2.0 world the small time entrepreneur is as visible and as connected as the largest companies.  I would go even further to assert that the small entrepreneur is at an advantage because he does not have the costs associated with the large enterprise and also because large companies just don’t understand the new paradigms. I was able to launch this, connect with like minded individuals like John  and market this to my audience on a very tight bootstrap budget all within three weeks, something I would not have been able to do  even a year back.  Of course to capitalize on this, people need to be educated and that is an area the South African Government should really focus on.

My site is http://worldcup2010.dzcus.com, keep an eye out on it.  I am looking for sponsors and partners for the site, if you are interested please contact me at mmathew  @ dzcus.com.  You can also follow me on twitter; my twitter tag is @mathaix and @dzcus_worldcup.

Mathew Mathew

Founder dzcus.com

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Post featured on the “Sports Doing Good” Blog

I’ve recently been in touch with Sab Singh, NYU adjunct professor and founder of the sports business consultancy, the Kaur Group.  Sab contacted me through this blog and we started a good dialogue, discovering that we shared many common interests as well as a shared experience at Georgetown University.

He was kind enough to ask if I would contribute a post to his blog sports doing good and I jumped at the opportunity.  My first article is a re-post of my October 15th post titled “What the World Cup Means (and could mean) for Business.”

The post is slightly different from my October 15th post in that it incorporates thoughts on an earlier post Sab wrote on October 31 titled “Another factor to consider – legacy” which reflects on the issue of the legacy of these huge sports events.  Interestingly, Sab pointed out how England, in their 2018 bid to host the World Cup, is focusing on the  social legacy of the games (diversity, social development, etc.); a relevant and pointed departure from the emphasis on economic development resulting from the 2010 games in South Africa and 2014 to come in Brazil.

Click here to read my full post on Sab’s blog.

About Prof. Singh:

Sab Singh is an experienced business strategy and market research professional. For more than 12 years he has  advised, alone and as part of teams, a number of clients, from multinationals to niche, fast growing entities on their most pressing and promising branding, marketing, strategy, and business development issues. Working with those in, and touched by, the world of sports business is what he does at the Kaur Group.

For more about Sab Singh go to: http://sportsdoinggood.wordpress.com/about-me/

Commentary on article: How to grow a brand responsibly in Africa

segmentation

via Google Images

Biz Community (whom I love) recently featured an article titled “How to grow your brand responsibly in Africa.”  The article was written by a formidable writer on brands and branding in Africa named Issa Sikiti da Silva.   His article followed the recent Brands & Branding for Good conference that took place in Johanesburg and draws much inspiration from the talk Nomahlubi Simamane, CEO and founder of Zanusi Brand Solutions gave.

In this talk, Mrs. Simamane started by describing the Africa that is perpetuated in the media and which is sadly often true: crime-ridden, violent, poor, uneducated, blah blah blah.  I’m not going to say that it’s not reality in most cases.  But those conditions do not reflect the desire of most Africans (and most humans).  But it’s these conditions that cause many brands to skip-over Africa, underestimating, undervaluing, and misunderstanding the potential consumer market there.   Like in all marketing, Mrs. Simamane stated that you must understand your consumer market in order to know how to engage them.  She stated that

“Africa is not a consumer-led society and [is] a continent where corporates are not trusted, so an aggressive consumer education is required.”

Firstly, this tells me that there is a lack of cultural and pyscho-graphic understanding of African consumers (though I know you can’t lump them into one segment, but bear with me).  But reading this more closely, this SCREAMS out to me opportunities for utilizing CSR as key part of the “aggressive consumer education.”

BRANDS! Are you reading  this!  This is your opportunity (forget whatever you did or didn’t in the past) to educate an entire market about your brand, essentially, on your terms.  And using experiential CSR initiatives i.e. community education partnerships, health related initiatives (as long as it makes sense for your brand) is a great way to win consumer fans and likely loyal brand ambassadors.   Bottom line: the slate is clean; treat consumers well now (with good products and services) AS WELL as respect them as human beings and I see a pretty clear path to winning a lot of market share.

What’s great about this article and what Mrs. Simamane is saying is that it’s  coming from a South African and being reported on a South African web site.  Brilliant.  Give the people what they want I say!

Further in the article, Mrs. Simamane continued to describe some CSR-sounding things that companies/brands could do to to win-over consumers.  Even more brilliant!

Ensure that there is market stability, reinvest into the country, employ local people and create partnerships with local people – you cannot go to those countries and believe that you can do everything on your own.

Become a good corporate citizen, pay your taxes, respect the environment and address welfare and health issues of staff.

“Utilise eco-friendly materials and packaging, manage waste efficiently and effectively. Don’t go into Africa with an arrogant attitude. Instead, engage people like real people and not like your slaves.

Ensure future talent, offer bursaries, develop future skills and improve lives in the countries where you operate. Give excess stock to needy people, get involved in community projects, source from poor communities and establish standards and train.”

You don’t have to listen to me here, but this is coming straight from a leading South African brand strategist!   Her talk supports the notion that there are opportunities for brands to basically build their market; by investing in communities, people, skills, resources you are building a sustainable (and likely loyal) consumer based.  If I was brand in South Africa I would looking at the upcoming World Cup as the perfect opportunity to “educate” the South African (and African) consumer on what I was all about.  As long as it’s authentic and comes from a good place, I think this would position a brand well for growth.

To read the full article go to: http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/82/41215.html

To follow Biz Community on Twitter click on: @Bizcommunity

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Chats with Dzcus WorldCup and Mike from Compton United

I recently had the pleasure to have phone (in-real-life, I know… amazing) conversations with two folks I’ve connected with through the blog and Twitter.  Those folks are @Dzcuz_worldcup and Mike Herman, aka @urbanfocus, CEO of the wonderful organization, Compton United.

Dzcus_worldcup, started a really wonderful wiki for South Africa and World Cup related subjects which can be found here: http://worldcup2010.dzcus.com/ It’s a forum where anyone can ask and answer questions related to the games; questions ranging from logistics i.e. where to stay in Capetown to what the hell “Bafana Bafana” (the name of the South African National team) means!

It’s a great resource and I hope it will continue to grow and be useful.  Look out for a future post from @Dzcuz_worldcup who may introduce some ways to use the Wiki for CSR and social/good purposes!

comptonunited

via comptonunited.org

The same evening I talked to Mike Herman, CEO of Compton United, a wonderful organization in the Compton, Los Angeles area, that uses youth soccer as a youth and community development tool.  They are a really remarkable organization and I’m excited to continue talking with Mike about ways to integrate what they’re doing with some other other social enterprise and World Cup related things.

Also look out for a future contribution from Mike about Compton United and their plans to be in South Africa during the World Cup.

Man, the internet can be used for good things!

 

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United Nations passes resolution in support of 2010 World Cup

UN-LOGO copy

via Google Images & UN.org

A recent Media Club South Africa article noted that the United Nations recently passed a resolution in support of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.  As the article states,

“This resolution is the first of its kind and underpins the global support to the commitment of South Africa to not just make this another sporting event, but to ensure that it is based on the agenda for peace, development and stability for Africa – in the hope that these benefits will trickle through far beyond the final whistle.”

Well said, if you ask me.

The article goes on to quote Ban Ki Moon, the current UN Secretary General:

“There is great power in this. It is a time to present a different story of the African continent, a story of peace, democracy and investment,” Ban said at a meeting with Danny Jordaan, the organising committee’s chief executive, at a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on 21 October.

225px-Bankimoon07052007

via wikipedia entry

Mr. Moon has enjoyed a long career as a diplomat in South Korea’s foreign service.  In the article, he mentions South Korea’s history of conflict and their recent and successful co-hosting of the 2002 World Cup with Japan, who the have not enjoyed the greatest relationship with.

Related to the UN’s and Mr. Moon’s recent endorsement, Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup, made an insightful (but with a little jab to the global body) comment saying,
“The UN Secretary General must not only come to the continent when there is war, when he wants to talk about Darfur…He must come to Africa when Africa celebrates, when Africa excels. When there is good news, he must always be there.”
As Mr. Moon alluded to the affect the World Cup had in his home country, Mr. Jordaan went on to state
“the World Cup would play an important role in consolidating the new South Africa. The World Cup is a dream that began in 1994, the first year of our democracy, and is part of our ongoing efforts as a nation to build unity in our country.”

He made a great point further stating that:

“Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is creating circumstances that create hope. The legacy of this World Cup embarks on changing the circumstances of many people through its social legacy projects, job creation and advancements in telecommunications and infrastructure.”

With Mr. Moon’s and President Zuma’s recent open declaration of support for the join1goal campaign, I would like to believe these are not empty words.  Mr. Jordaan and Mr. Moon both make great points that these games are an opportunity to celebrate South Africa’s (and Africa’s) achievements and to potentially change global perceptions of what South Africa and the Continent are all about.  But I sincerely hope that these words are backed up with concrete action and a long-term strategy that will use this event as a catalyst rather than the the cherry to place on top of the cake; the beginning, not a self-congratulatory event to celebrate the job well-done for the last 16 years since the end of Apartheid.

And I say all this being a advocate for the organization.  I did a short stint working for a UN organization, the World Food Program in Malawi.  I’m a believer in what it stands for and represents.  But I’ll also be as vocal a critic as the next person when it comes to their inability to act quickly, their subservience to internal politics which prevent decisive action, and their lack of enforcement power (not their fault; a result of poor design).

With that said, the UN resolution is purely a symbolic gesture.  But I hope that the gravity of this gesture is not lost.  The UN is the world’s organization to encourage peace, prosperity, and humanity.  And football is the world’s games.  Let’s hope that our leaders, in business, government, and civil society, use this opportunity to show the global community what South Africa and Africa can accomplish and can offer.  This could be a watershed moment for tourists, investors, ex-pats, the global development community, etc. to understand and celebrate the potential that is brimming all across the continent.

Great job United Nations and Mr. Moon. I applaud you! Let’s just hope that this resolution, like so many other (more important) UN resolutions doesn’t go unheeded and placed to the wayside, once the rubber hits the road.

For a link to the full post, go here: http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1379:un-resolution-supports-sa-2010&catid=46:2010news&Itemid=118#ixzz0VBROycPI

And you can follow Media Club South Africa on Twitter: @MediaClubSA

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What the World Cup means (and could mean) for business

via Google Images

via Google Images

An article this summer from Web Newswire.com written by Creative Strategies, a CSR strategy firm based in Brussels, discussed the impact the World Cup would have for business, not only in South Africa, but around the globe.

The article noted that by the time the games kick off, R20.5 billion (2.83 billion USD; 1.765 billion GBP) would have been spent on infrastructure projects such as the building of 5 new stadiums and the refurbishment of 5 others, major civil engineering projects such as improving roads and transport systems, and developing the Johannesburg Rapid Transit System linking Johannesburg and Pretoria.  They estimated that around 368,000 jobs (at least temporary jobs) would have been created during the build up to the games.

And during the games, tourism predictions are for inflows of up to 480 000 visitors, spending R 9.3 billion (1.29 billion USD; 800.6 billion GBP) in-country during the event.  This is not an insignificant amount when considering South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2008 was $277.2 billion USD, according to the CIA Factbook.

Further economic predictions are that the national GDP will be boosted with at least R51.1 billion (7.07 billion USD; 4.4 billion GBP) for the period 2006 to 2010, sustaining 196,400 jobs. A further R7.2 billion (996.4 million USD; 620.6 million GBP) is expected to flow back into government coffers in the form of taxes and revenue.

These predictions are great but as I’ve discussed before, economic impact estimates for events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics are often exaggerated in order to “sell-in” the games and they rarely ever deliver the impact that’s promised.

However, ticket sales should be a fairly predictable and real representation of economic impact – I would imagine that ALL games will be sold out; ticket sales alone are estimated at R3.2 billion (442.3 million USD; 275.5 billion GBP), and I’m proud to report that we’ve made our contribution to bringing these estimates to reality.  But it is difficult to make tangible predictions about the impact that will be made in other areas such as tourism, hospitality, merchandise sales, etc.

But the most intriguing part of the article, and is a view I very much share, is what the authors wrote concerning the long-term economic impact the games should and could have for South Africa, and the view businesses should take with regards to the games.

The authors wrote:

For many businesses the true value of 2010 is clearly not to be found in the 33 days of the event itself. Yes, those in tourism, hospitality and sport must surely reap the rewards richly during those frantic days, but a longer term vision is required to truly benefit from the event. The fact of the matter is that when the games are over and everything returns to normal, ‘normal’ would have been redefined, and those who have best read and exploited the dynamics around the event will be the long term winners.

I wholeheartedly agree with this last sentence.  The corporations and brands (international or local) that best position themselves in the mind of viewers and consumers before, during, and after the games (and long-after in my opinion) will be the real winners in the Southern Africa and potentially continent wide market, after the rest of the footballing world begins to make their preparations for Brazil 2014.

The authors goes on to ask the question: “where should businesses who are not direct beneficiaries of the event i.e. sponsors) focus their attention?”

One area the authors point out is:

Innovative public relations and marketing campaigns: These have to be designed and launched to attract both the high number of visitors as well as the 40 billion television viewers across the globe to portray this country as an attractive destination for tourists, businessmen and sports people alike.

This last point is important in my view.  While brands, corporations, the tourism industry, retailers, etc. will want to capitalize on the in-country tourism and the rands that will be spent; marketers must not lose sight of the 40 billion estimated global TV viewers, a good portion of which will be viewers from other African nations who may likely be more receptive to a brand who appears to be engaged in South Africa and the region for the long term.

It will be very interesting to see who (brands, corporations, product lines, etc) emerges as economic powerhouses in South and southern Africa in the years following the games, and if one will be able to make a direct link to the way the company, brand, etc. leveraged the games (or not) for long-term planning.

Economists and social scientists:  here’s a potentially intriguing research topic; to measure the pre- and post games economic impact (market share, sales, etc.) of a handful of corporations in relation to their investment before and during the games.

and

Corporations and sponsors: here’s further fire to the argument that marketing and CSR, if done earnestly, could help position you for long-term success in Southern Africa and the continent as a whole.

A lot to think about.

For full article go here: http://www.webnewswire.com/node/458405

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Why Olympics might be a bad deal for sponsors; Lessons for World Cup?

Via the Twitter community, I came across a recent article by Kim Skildum Reid published in the blogs section of Harvard Business Publishing.  The article was titled “Why Olympic Sponsorships Aren’t Effective.”  Kim is a Sydney-based corporate sponsorship strategist, co-author of industry bestsellers, The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit and The Sponsor’s Toolkit, and author of The Ambush Marketing Toolkit.

Headshot_for_book_biggerWhile the author focuses on the Olympics, I believe that the points she makes also apply to the FIFA World Cup, and not only because both events share some of the same mega sponsors (e.g. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, etc.).  Ms. Reid focuses on the topic of ambush marketing, loosely defined as a company/organization conducting marketing activities to benefit from the spotlight of an event of which they are not the official sponsor.  She writes about sponsors, protecting their “rights” as official sponsors, due to the hefty fees they have shelled out, to fight off the efforts of ambush marketers.  As the author points out, a group of 9 official sponsors are expected to pay more than $1 billion dollars for the rights to sponsor the Rio games.  That’s no small sum.

FIFA and the official World Cup sponsors have been equally effusive about their distaste for ambush marketing.  I agree that sponsors should reserve the right to protect their intellectual property (logos, name, etc.) and if their sponsorship extends to keeping competitor brands/products away from the event, then they have the right to do that as well.  But while sponsors/brands spend their legal might and time to fight off potential ambush marketers and small scale entrepreneurs, they might be taking their eyes off the ball.  When consumers and fans hear more stories of FIFA or one of the huge-multinational corporations like this one where FIFA sued a small entrepreneur or forced a tavern owner to shut their doors, they will be outraged and may likely vote with their dollars and feet to NOT support a company.  And we know now, via tweets, texts, e-mails, etc. word travels fast.

I think the author makes a great point at the end of her article.  It’s not about defending or NOT defending a sponsor’s right to protect their “purchase” but about how a sponsor should engage with the audience they are hoping to influence via their sponsorship.  In this age of interactivity and the expectation of consumers to be courted by brands, it’s no longer enough to have the company name plastered alongside the pitch.  Sponsors/brands need to develop relationships with their consumers.

As the author writes:

“Sponsors need to be able to jump into the crowds, nurture fan-generated content, and engage outside the bounds of the Olympics themselves, where so much of the real action is. And like it or not, to do that, the Olympics needs to be prepared to provide sponsor benefits, including IP, that they will lose control of out there in the wild ether of the Olympic experience.”

So sponsors, I hope you’re listening.  A relationship/bond will not be formed with a consumer just by ensuring they see your company’s name more than a competitors.

While traditional tactics will certainly guarantee a great # of impressions (# of eyeballs that see your name/logo) they don’t guarantee conversions or changes in consumer behavior.  Taking the effort to “jump into the crowds” will show consumers that you care, and consumers will be more likely to take the “jump” with you.

With this in mind, CSR initiatives could be a good way for a brand/company to “jump into the crowd” and really show consumers that you care about them and their community.  Do some good in the community/country that aligns with your brand purpose, and your ROI may be better than the huge dollars spent on traditional sponsorship activities (name/logos on billboards, programs, etc.).

Something to think about.

A link to the original post can be found here: http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/cs/2009/10/olympic_sponsorships.html

And you can follow Kim Skildum-Reid on Twitter @KimSkildumReid

And the Harvard Business Review at @HarvardBiz

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Report on CSR around the Globe: The state of CSR in South Africa

csr by asensi

csr by asensi

I recently saw a post on CSR International that highlighted the South Africa findings from a recent global CSR report.

The University of South Africa’s Centre for Corporate Citizenship and the Bureau of Market Research conducted research on ethical opinions of consumers in South Africa.  They contributed to the South Africa section in the report titled, Corporate Citizenship Around the World: How local flavors season global practice. This report was co-produced by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Global Education Research Network.

Key findings as related to CSR in South Africa (as recorded in the report).

  • More than half of South Africa’s metropolitan consumers consider a company’s corporate reputation when they make a purchasing decision.
  • 47% of respondents preferred products or services from good corporate citizens – even when they are more expensive.
  • 55% of respondents indicate they have bought a product or a service from a company because of its link to charitable causes.
  • 69% believe irresponsible companies should be exposed in the media, while 63% say they should be punished.
  • Three quarters indicated that government should play a more proactive role in encouraging greater corporate citizenship.
  • Over 75% of respondents expected companies to improve the social and environmental impacts of their products and services and 66% expected companies to implement socially responsible practice in their supply chain.
  • 40% of respondents said that social responsibility will enhance employees’ respect for the company, while about 60% believed that socially responsible public commitments increase employees’ respect for their place of work.

Authors

National Consumers League & Fleishman-Hillard International Communications

Overall this report is fascinating, providing a snapshot of CSR practices in countries (and cultures) around the world including:

  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • China
  • The Philippines
  • South Africa
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • United States

Obviously, for the purposes of this blog, the section on South Africa is particularly interesting.  It’s clear that South African consumers are savvy and socially concerned.  CSR is not just a concern for Western nations and how companies behave in other countries, but is a prominent and real concern of the citizens of those other countries.

World Cup sponsors are you listening?

Here’s some proof that it’s not enough to conduct business as usual and expect that your name on some sideline advertisement is going to buy you good will with the local consumer.  South African consumers care about how their brands behave; they care about the companies they want to affiliate with and how they collaborate with the world around them.

Now how will the World Cup sponsors react?  There’s still plenty of time; brand and business-aligned CSR initiatives are still possible to enact! Who will step up and take advantage and win some of the market and mind share of these socially conscious South African consumers?  This is a challenge that I hope all companies, not just World Cup sponsors, will take on.

For full post click here: http://www.csrinternational.org/?p=4186

To download the full report click here: http://www.unisa.ac.za/contents/colleges/col_econ_man_science/ccc/docs/CorpCitizenshipAroundWorld.pdf

 

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Interview with Steve Fleming, CEO of Kick4Life

Kick4Life logoJamie Tosh of Kick4Change was nice enough to put me in touch with a contact of his, Steve Fleming, from the organization Kick4Life.  I sent Steve, joint CEO of Kick4Life, the following 5 questions; below are his responses, some photos, and info on how to support Kick4Life’s work!

Thanks much Steve!

1. What is Kick4Life, in a nutshell?

Kick4Life is a charity which uses the power of football to change the lives of some of the most disadvantaged children in the world. Using football to engage and inspire we deliver HIV education and voluntary testing as well as supporting kids through school and onto a better future.

David Beckham and Kick4Life boys

David Beckham and Kick4Life boys

2. How did you start the organization?

Kick4Life was set up by my brother and I in 2005. Initially we did a charity challenge to kick a football across Malawi for 250 miles to raise money for an AIDS orphanage. It was meant as a one-off but turned out to be a life-changing experience and we were inspired to set up an organisation to do further work. We have initially focused our work in Lesotho for a number of reasons: the HIV crisis (Lesotho has the world’s third highest prevalence), a lack of similar programs operating in the country, some fantastic partners who supported our initiative and a real passion for football among the people.

3. How are you linking up with organizations like FIFA? Other corporate partners?

Our main funding partner is the Vodafone Foundation which has supported Kick4Life from the outset. Their support has enabled us to reach more than 20,000 young people with HIV education, and test more than 8,000 for HIV, referring those who are positive to life-saving treatment. We have since established partnerships with UNICEF, Sentebale (Prince Harry’s charity) and a number of other partners.

We are also part of a global network called Street Football World which is partnered with FIFA to deliver the Football for Hope program.

England manager Fabio Capello in Kick4Life tent in Lesotho

England manager Fabio Capello in Kick4Life tent in Lesotho

4. What sort of activities are you planning in the lead up to, during, and after the World Cup?

It promises to be a very exciting year. Through our relationship with streetfootballworld and FIFA we are taking a team of kids from Lesotho to Cape Town to take part in a festival as part of the World Cup draw. Then during the World Cup we will be taking another team to Festival 2010 to compete against 32 teams from around the world, and to celebrate the use of football as a tool for social development.

In Lesotho we are also planning a two-day football and HIV education/testing festival during the World Cup.

5. How could someone get involved?

Kick4Life in action!

Kick4Life in action!

I always say the best way for an individual to get involved is to sign up for one of our Kick4Life All Stars tours. These are two week trips to Lesotho that incorporate football matches against local teams with HIV education. Participants are trained to deliver some of our activities and get to work with hundreds of kids. It also provides a unique insight to a beautiful country. To find out more visit http://kick4life.org/africa2010.htm

For any companies that would like to get involved please get in touch to discuss how we can work together. We have a number of exciting opportunities around the World Cup.

Contact details:

Steve Fleming, Joint Chief Executive

+44 (0) 7710 999 169

steve@kick4life.org

To find out more:

Visit www.kick4life.org

Watch some of our short films www.youtube.com/kick4lifemedia

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

www.facebook.com/kick4life

www.twitter.com/kick4life

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My first interview! Check it out!

Thanks to Casey Brazeal, editor and host of local Chicago blog North And Clark (think south side Chicago mixed with This American Life).

I met Casey through a mutual friend and over a few beers and fish and chips we chatted about what I was writing about, what he was writing about, etc.  What resulted was me answering some questions about CSR and the World Cup.

Big thanks to Casey. You can check out the full e-mail interview here: http://northandclark.net/2009/09/5-questions-about-social-responsibility-with-john-kim/#more-337

But be sure to check out his other stuff – lots of interesting material ranging from a Chicago cop’s view of the 1968 riots to an audio interview of a Guantanamo Bay detainee’s defense lawyer, to anything else in between.

You can also follow him at @NorthandClark

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Guest post: On-the-Scene, at the CBCF’s Annual Legislative Conference, Session – Beyond the World Cup: Investment and Cultural Opportunities Between Africa and the U.S.

As reported last week, Tracey Savell Reavis attended a workshop discussing the World Cup and South Africa in DC. Tracey is a Washington-DC based sports journalist and CSR communications consultant. She covers social responsibility issues and initiatives within the sports industry on her website Philanthropy Scores. Below is her report of the event:

Photo from today's event!Last week I attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 39th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.  I spotted the “Beyond the World Cup” session, and immediately added it to my schedule, intrigued that the topic was important enough to be addressed by the Caucus.

I got an even better sense of the weight of the session when the Rev. Jesse Jackson entered the room and took a seat in the front row. International dignitaries from South Africa, France and Italy sat alongside him. And finally, when the moderator, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole gave her opening remarks, she informed the audience that this session was being webcast.

Congresswoman Lee

Congresswoman Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Chair of the African Globalism Committee, opened the discussion explaining the committee’s mission – establish structured opportunities for joint business ventures and technological transfers, educational exchange, and cultural awareness between African Americans, Africans, and other Afro-descendant populations.

“Our goal is to make sure that the U.S. knows Africa matters.”

Myra Fitzgerald, a woman I spoke with before the session, was someone who saw first hand the South Africa of 10 years ago. Back then she worked with the Environmental Protection Agency, developing energy and climate change initiatives for the country.

The post-apartheid government of South Africa had the foresight to solicit global partnerships to address some of their biggest issues in energy, housing, education and healthcare.

“They were aggressive and quite honestly brilliant,” recalls Fitzgerald. “They were eager for advice from Europe, from Asia and from the U.S.”

Fast forward to 2009, and in less than 300 days, South Africa is poised to host the largest sporting event in the world. How they did it – by adopting economical models and building infrastructures with an eye on the future – makes it clear why a committee of U.S. congress members would make trade and investment with Africa one of its top priorities.

One of the panelists, Jerry Vilakazi, CEO of Business Unity South Africa, pointed out that investment in South Africa has led to progress in areas of telemedicine, distance education, IP and HDTV, and peer-to-peer networks.

Session panelist 2The South Africa of today is one with cleaner air, improved rail systems and roads, high-tech electrical grids, lower unemployment rates and better healthcare and education. Tourism numbers continue to go up. Neighboring countries have contributed indirectly to South Africa’s progress by improving their transportation systems as well. And when I asked Vilakazi if he believed the companies that had invested in the country’s infrastructure would pull up their stakes when the footballers and their millions of fans left, he indicated no.

“That’s not going to happen,” he said. “These are companies that already have a large footprint there. And when they see the potential for more customers, they will spend money further. More than hope, we are confident the World Cup will showcase South Africa as an investment and trade destination, and a country to do business with in the future.”

After the session I chatted with some people in the audience from South Africa and got my first Diski lesson (click here for video on how to do the dance), the dance the country is asking all South Africans to learn and do to help promote the World Cup. (It seems a little like line-dancing to me, with some football kickish moves added, but maybe I need some more practice).

Hopefully the South Africa beyond the World Cup will be a country that has demonstrated viable sustainability models that can be readily copied by others. And we’ll say all the social responsibility initiatives, like those set forth by the Congressional Black Caucus, made a lasting difference.

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Updated Photos – Guest post: Pre-coverage of Congressional Black Causcus session on “Beyond the World Cup”

I was recently contacted by Tracey Reavis, of Philanthropy Scores, informing me that she was going to be attending a session at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislation Conference this weekend. Tracey is the principal at Philanthropy Scores, a communications consultancy focusing on corporate social responsibility.

Session InfoThe session is covering the topic “Beyond the World Cup: Investment and cultural opportunities between Africa and the US.”  Firstly, I was thrilled to hear that this was a discussion that would be happening in such a large and influential forum.  Secondly, I was even more excited that Tracey was offering to cover and write about the event for this blog!

This is pre-event coverage.  Coming early next week will be Tracey’s notes and write up of the session itself.  Enjoy!

Big thanks to Tracey. Take it away!

Tracey Savell Reavis, a veteran sports journalist and CSR consultant, will be attending a panel discussion entitled Beyond the World Cup: Investment and Cultural Opportunities between Africa and the U.S., during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 39th Annual Legislation Conference this week in Washington, D.C.

Here’s an On-the-Scene preview of the event:

2009_ALC_LogoThe conference officially kicked off on Wednesday and I’ve already circled all the workshops and seminars I need to attend in my program book. There are several that will tackle sustainability and social responsibility issues. Top on my list is Beyond the World Cup: Investment and Cultural Opportunities between Africa and the U.S.

I’ve been able to catch up with the spokesperson for Congresswoman Barbara Lee to get more information on her Saturday forum discussion. The session, part of the Foreign Policy & International Relations track, will explore the benefits the World Cup will have on the U.S. and African economic trade relationships. It will also address the outlook of sustaining the opportunities for the U.S and Africa resulting from the World Cup and the World Cup’s positive implications for Africa.

(The panel features congresswoman Barbara Lee, 9th District, California, and others)

I’m looking forward to hearing the discussion.

Upated: Photo (from an iPhone) from today’s session – write up to follow!

Congresswoman Lee (CA)

Congresswoman Lee (CA)

Session Panelists

Session Panelists

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Guest post: Nike, CSR in South Africa, and Sport for Social Change

via Google Images

via Google Images

I have recently been in touch with Aykan Gulten, a member of Nike’s Sustainable Business & Innovation team.  He is based in Amsterdam and is responsible for projects in Africa, Europe, and Middle East.  How cool, right?

Aykan also authors the blog Social Agenda where you can learn more about CSR and Nike from an insider’s perspective and his recent trip to Milan for the Homeless World Cup.   You can also  follow him on Twitter @AykanGulten.

He was kind enough to write a guest post about the Sport for Social Change Network Nike has sponsored and facilitated in South Africa.  The pictures included are also from Aykan.  Big thanks to Aykan!!!

Enjoy.

Nike CSR South AfricaWhen I discovered “World Cup and CSR” blog, I thought I could contribute. Having been involved in sports based social programs in S. Africa, this is an area which I believe I have valuable experience and knowledge that I can share with people. I am working for “Nike Sustainable Business and Innovation” with a focus on sustainable development projects and partnerships. I had opportunities to visit beautiful S.Africa and observe some great CSR programs on the ground. But instead of writing about those individual programs, I wanted to write about a network initiative for them; Sport for Social Change Network.

The Sport for Social Change Network (SSCN) is a four-year global initiative (2006-2010) using sport to achieve social change. The overall goal of the SSCN is to promote the use of sport as a vehicle to achieve lasting social change. The SSCN is achieving this by contributing to sports initiatives by building capacity of local organizations; increasing the number of sports-based community development programs; contributing to the growing body of evidence which shows how sport can be used effectively in development; and finally, by providing funding to the sport-for-development sector demonstrating the value of sport in development.

P3060985In past years Nike has provided support for capacity building to a growing number of sport-based grassroots organizations through the SSCN. The SSCNs have become a key initiative under Nike’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy which seeks to grow a global movement around the use of sport as a tool for social change. Although the network is initiated by Nike, it is not exclusive and it is also open to social programs which are sponsored by the competitors.

Since 2006, together with other SSCN partners, Nike has organized several SSCN workshops and meetings in order to strengthen sport based organizations capacity, networking and sustainability. These workshops focused on topics relevant to the SSCN members such as: gender equity, measurement and evaluation tools, conflict resolution, advocacy, internet fundraising etc.NIKESSCN131108109

In November 2008, Nike employees, who are all experts at what they do, delivered training in subject matters where Nike has in-house expertise, such as branding, marketing, event management, digital marketing and storytelling to the representatives of NGO’s from S.Africa and neighboring countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique. More than 50 enthusiastic and energized people from amazing organizations were present; ready to learn, share, make new connections brainstorm ideas and have fun – African style.

During those meetings, digital communication was one of the hot topics and participants from different organizations learned how to use digital technologies to create communities and to promote their good work. As a part of that training, we also created a digital social network for SSCN. If you want to be a member or just simply check out, the link is here:  http://sscn-global.ning.com/

IMG_0740The next step for SSCN is to make partner organizations take more responsibility in driving the activities of the network. In the beginning of 2009, request for proposals has been issued for the “convener role” of SSCN in S. Africa and as a result of the selection process, Altus Sports Vuma has been awarded with the convener role. This is the beginning of the new era and we are all excited about the future of SSCN. There is so much to do in S. Africa before and after the FIFA World Cup.

About the author: Aykan Gulten is a member of Nike Sustainable Business & Innovation team (previously called as Corporate Responsibility). He is responsible for partnering with social projects in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

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Article on Ad Age: Corporate Social…Opportunity?

opshopWindowcrop

The Good Works section of Advertising Age’s website recently had an article titled, Corporate Social Responsibility is Dead: Long live corporate social responsibility.  The article was written by Tim Sanders, author of the book “Saving the World at Work.” (which I haven’t yet read but just purchased!).

The article is based on his belief that the wave of CSR that largely involved reporting on all of the good things a company was doing with regards to their community, the environment, etc. in an annual report, are coming to an end.  He purports that the next wave of CSR is actually something he terms corporate social opportunity.  The way he describes it is like this:

Picking the right walk, then talking about it (strategy plus marketing) is the key. Long live CSO: corporate social opportunities. CSO should be a marketing function, designed to seek out the cutting edge of brand innovation — where a company’s assets intersect with the greater community’s needs. When you find this match, you can produce a sustainable program that inspires sales while it makes a difference.

Right on!  Readers of this blog will know that this is my vision of what good CSR can and should be.  Companies should leverage opportunities to align their brands and their resources with the needs of their community, both because it’s good to do and because it can help inspire brand loyalty and sales.

He continues to state:

As long as marketing is involved on the back end, a positive feedback loop can be created where the company connects with cause, which inspires customers to connect with company. This is likely the future of corporate social opportunity, from taking care of employees (think health care coverage as a CSO) to boosting local communities (think sharing education resources as a CSO) to helping save the planet (think recycling as a CSO). In the end, the business value aligns with the do-gooder in people — helping to create a new breed of sustainability that won’t be canceled or cut to the bone the next time the economy swoons.

I’m glad we have an articulate and widely read advocate for this vision of corporate social responsibility.  I’m a firm believer that if CSR is NOT aligned with the brand and the business, CSR initiatives are at risk to be placed by the wayside at a change of leadership, tough-economic times, or at a whim.  But if an initiative is an integral representation of the brand, the CSR activity should (I hope) continue to persist and make an impact in the community and in the ledger.

How does this relate to the World Cup?  Like I’ve written in earlier posts, I think there are many opportunities for World Cup sponsors (and non-sponsors) to conduct CSR initiatives that align with their brand and can do some real good in the country.  I haven’t seen many manifestations of this yet nor have been impressed with what I have seen so far, but with about 10 months before the games, I can still be hopeful that major World Cup and FIFA sponsors will step up their games and identify and embrace the Corporate Social Opportunities that are out there.

Full article can be found here: http://adage.com/goodworks/post?article_id=139091

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