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: 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.

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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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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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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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.


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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