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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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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Castrol and Grass Roots Soccer!


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


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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Trailer for Fahrenheit 2010: a documentary on what’s really at stake around the World Cup

A fellow football fan from the Twitter community, @hellofutbol, just tweeted the below link to me.  It’s for the trailer to a movie about the World Cup called Fahrenheit 2010.  But it’s not just about celebrating the games.  It explores some of the hard questions about what the real and lasting benefits the games will/might/should have for the country and what’s really at stake for South Africa and the region; a lot of the same questions we discuss on this blog.

According to the film makers:

“Fahrenheit 2010 cuts through the hype, with an uncompromising examination of what the World Cup means for South Africans themselves – in particular, who actually stands to benefit from the diversion of millions of dollars to build 21st century sports arenas in a country in which, 15 years after throwing off apartheid’s yoke, millions live in shacks and have no access to water – a South Africa where life expectancy has plummeted to below that of Ethiopia.”

Glad to see that folks have been asking these tough questions and have used the power of video to pose them to the masses.

The trailer is powerful, thought provoking, and self explanatory.  Enjoy.

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Interview with Jamie Tosh of kick4change, a new social enterprise

The internet works in strange and beautiful ways.  David Connor, CEO of Coethica, a CSR consultancy in the UK found me through my blog a little while back.  We stayed in contact and through his good-will and kindness he put me in touch with Jamie Tosh, founder of a new and exciting social enterprise, kick4change.  I’ve had the good fortune to speak with Jamie and co-founder, Simon Brown, a number of times now and am hoping to help them, both spread the word and in the operations of the enterprise, as they continue to build kick4change.  Their primary focus was on the UK market, but with the World Cup in South Africa, they realized it would be a huge opportunity to build their brand and do a world of good throughout Africa. I’m a huge fan of the business model and founders, and with Weber Shandwick, a top notch global PR firm, and many impressive partnering organizations, I foresee a successful business after my own heart that will be doing good while doing well.  I could rattle on, but I’ll let Jamie explain the rest.  Thanks again Jamie!

News flash: kick4change was recognised at yesterday’s Social Enterprise awards night, sponsored by Business Link Yorkshire, winning the prestigious award of “Innovation in Enterprise”.

kick4change1.  In a nutshell, what is kick4change?

kick4change are a social enterprise company that re-invest all profits back into grass roots sports. kick4change comprises UK and International elements – our ‘home and away’ approach.

Our ‘Home’ market is UK schools, clubs and community initiatives. For every pair of boots purchased, kick4change will donate 50% of the profits directly to the school or club of the purchaser’s choice. The remaining 50% goes into an ‘asset lock’ to be spent on community initiatives, providing sustainable revenue streams for schools and junior sports clubs and other good causes and community initiatives.

In essence we have taken an everyday fundamental piece of sports kit (football boots) and turned it into a sustainable revenue stream for such organisations.

Our ‘Away’ market is based on our CSR model of working with practitioner charities overseas. We will also use our boots to reach as many African children as possible, partnering with charities that use sport as a building block for education, awareness and inclusion, and using the FIFA 2010 World Cup as a backdrop.

image of branded boot (cleat) for sale on kick4change website

image of branded boot (cleat) for sale on kick4change website

2.  How did you two meet (Jamie Tosh and Simon Brown are the founders)? How did the idea come about?

We have been friends since meeting at school aged 13, almost 20 years ago. The initial concept came from coaching local youngsters who had insufficient equipment to use. This was despite all owning expensive, branded boots and kit. The idea of creating our own sports brand and placing it in a social model was essentially born out of a lack of resources. The basic idea was to design a vehicle that could be used to re-invest profits from the sale of fundamental sports kit back into the areas that need them – i.e. grass roots sports.

3.  Why a social enterprise?  Social enterprises have gained a lot of steam
in the past few years; what is the landscape for social enterprises in the
UK? Is it harder to start a social enterprise vs. a fully just-for-profit

We wanted to shout about our ‘profit redistribution model’ and be transparent in our operations. We figured that in the current economic climate, social funding would be easier to obtain. We didn’t want to be known as a not for profit business as that could detract from our core message, nor could we afford to run a private, for profit business as this wouldn’t give us our unique USP. We are not embarrassed about making profits, that is why we are doing this – it’s just that we choose to re-invest all our profits back into grass roots sports. The more we make, the more communities we can impact and the more change we can instigate. Social Enterprise is a growing trend in the UK. SE organisations are predominantly service led, we are breaking the mould for offering branded products under a SE banner and this is incredibly exciting.

So much so we can proudly announce kick4change was recognised at the recent Social Enterprise awards night, winning the prestigious award of “Innovation in Enterprise”. We very much see this award as recognition of the companies hard work over the last year and hope this will allow our concept and brand values to be heard by a larger audience.

4.  What are your short term/long term goals for Kick4Change – both
financially and socially?

The short term goals are to get established and gain a foothold in the market place. We will only do this through consumers accepting us as a new brand, one that they can trust and one that is very clear about its core values. If we are successful in portraying these, sales and acceptance should follow. In the medium term we will be launching a number of initiatives that will allow companies and individuals to help us send over 100,000 boots to underprivileged children in Africa. With this will come profits that will allow us to start impacting socially in a variety of ways. We want to encourage increased child participation in sport and help break down social inclusion barriers. Of course sending over 100,000 new boots to Africa will also help leave a lasting legacy from the World Cup. We are working with a number of charitable partners in Africa who use football as a way of creating social change. A great example is our partnership with Kick4Life. Kick4Life use football as a way of engaging with children and educating them in things like HIV prevention and living with the stigma of carrying Aids.  (click here for earlier interview with Steve Fleming, CEO of Kick4Life)

5.  How can someone get involved/help out?

We are always looking for partnership and sponsorship opportunities. We are also open to offers of help, particularly with funding and contacts. Once we launch some of our initiatives, such as the 100,000 boot campaign, it will be clearer how people can directly help – watch this space!

To learn more about kick4change or buy some boots (cleats) here is some additional information:

Jamie’s e-mail: jamie <at> kick4change <dot> org

Web: www.kick4change.org

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kick4change

Also watch this space for pictures from kick4change!

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Recent Chat with Gary Benham of UK High Commission

via Google Images

via Google Images

I recently had a great chat with Gary Benham, Head of Communications for the British High Commission in Pretoria (kind of like a U.S. embassy). I was put in touch with Gary by the wonderful guys at Kick4Change (thanks Simon and Jamie!).

We chatted on what role the UK High Commission in South Africa was playing in preparation for the World Cup.  He mentioned that they were supporting some local grass-roots sports initiatives and would be coordinating with folks back in the UK in order to ensure that UK visitors for the games would be  taken care of.

I was very pleased to discover that we shared many of the same views with regards to the long-term impact the games needed to have in South Africa.  He mentioned that long-term sustainability and impact were some of the attributes they looked for before deciding to support a grass-roots initiative.  They were supportive of high-quality pitches (fields) being produced around the country but were also very aware that those efforts needed to be supported by coach-training, physical education, etc. efforts in order to make sure those fields didn’t lie dormant in the future.  His thoughts were well summarized when he said that the games didn’t end when the last whistle was blown; the need for social, governmental, and economic impact and improvement would not end once the 2010 tourists left.  And we couldn’t let the momentum of the games stop once the world’s attention started moving to Brazil 2014.  These are views I’ve long espoused here but to hear it directly from someone with the UK High Commission was brilliant.

And a recent speech given by the  the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr. Nicola Brewer, herself,  confirmed that Gary’s views were shared by those even at the highest levels.

Dr. Nicola Brewer, was recently called on by South Africa President, Jacob Zuma to present her credentials and thus formally “arrive” in Pretoria.  The “credentials” consist of the formal letter appointing the Higher Commissioner to the country, signed by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

In her speech  (full text here) to President Zuma on 10/1/09 she stated:

The legacy of the World Cup will live on long after the final goal is scored. My own Prime Minister is helping the 1GOAL campaign to use 2010 as a platform for the Millennium Development Goal to get 75 million children into education by 2015.

I couldn’t have arrived at a more exciting time in your own struggle to make poverty history. I can see the energy, conviction and commitment your new government has for putting service delivery at the heart of your policy programme

This is a very exciting point-of-view from a government official in my eyes.  And I’m encouraged by Gary’s perspective on their role in contributing to the ultimate goal of ensuring that the games leave the country in a better place after they’re over.

I’m also very excited to meet up with Gary once we make our way to South Africa to get a first hand glimpse into what they’re doing in-country.  He was very encouraging of my project ideas in terms of documenting CSR initiatives around the World Cup and I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation during the months ahead (and after the games are over).

For Gary’s blog on the UK High Commission’s website go here: http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/benham/

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog post do not represent the official views of the UK High Commission, only the personal views of Mr. Benham.  This blog is not endorsed in any way by the UK High Commission.

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