Apps to help you live a greener lifestyle

BY Farah Khalfe 3 MINUTE READ

GoGreen: Carbon Tracker
It’s all good and well trying to ‘guesstimate’ your carbon footprint, but without knowing where it stems from, you won’t know how to reduce it. Enter GoGreen: Carbon Tracker. This nifty app accurately monitors your carbon footprint by analysing data from your household utility bills. The app is able to track your monthly consumption of electricity, water and natural gas, measure your driving emissions and identify trends in your usage patterns. It also compares your consumption to those around you and awards and deducts ‘energy points’ depending on your carbon dioxide emissions – providing incentive for users to be more environmentally friendly in their daily activities and lifestyle decisions.

SunStream Pro Solar Panel and Power Bank combo
Not only is this solar-charged power bank convenient for staying connected in remote locations, but it’s good for the environment too. The device charges to one full amp by being left in the sun and is suitable for high-demand tech such as tablets, smartphones and GPS devices. Portable, waterproof and shatter-proof, the SunStream Pro Solar Panel and Power Bank combo ensures you will have a fully charged phone in less than two hours. With its lightweight design and built-in LED torch, it’s easy to carry around.

Ethical shopping just got a whole lot easier with the GoodGuide app. By scanning a product’s barcode, the app reveals scientific data and research regarding the item’s ‘green’ credentials and provides a rating from 0-10. The higher the rating, the better the product from a health perspective. You can find out the nutritional value of your favourite food products or the potential health hazards and chemical ingredients in the personal-care and household items you swear by. GoodGuide will provide greener alternatives for your daily purchases and, if you want to get clued up before heading to the store, you can search for and browse a range of brands and companies to help you make informed consumer purchasing decisions.

South Africa’s water scarcity woes are still ongoing and can only be reduced through the co-operation and commitment of all citizens to be mindful of their water consumption. During the height of the crisis, students of the University of Cape Town developed DropDrop, an app that helps users track their daily water usage, predict monthly bills, and learn new methods for conserving water. DropDrop reads your municipality’s external water meter and provides information that will aid you in optimising your water usage.

Kill A Watt 
Keep tabs on how much electricity your appliances are using with the Kill A Watt digital watt meter. Simply plug the device into a wall socket and plug any appliance (up to 2 000W) into the watt meter to gage the current voltage, accumulated electricity (total kW hours) and current electricity consumption (watts being used) of the appliance you want to assess. Advanced functions on the meter can also calculate the electricity cost of using an appliance while the device’s display mode indicates various factors such as time/price or time/voltage and minimum and the maximum power consumed.


This innovative brand of sneaker-care products is melding street culture with environmental sustainability

BY Farah Khalfe 4 MINUTE READ

Sneaker LAB is permeating global sneaker culture not only through their innovative products, but with an ethos of youth upliftment and sustainable community development. 

Founder Jo Farah shared some insight on the societal impact of entrepreneurship and the integral role it plays in solving the world’s most pertinent economic issues. It’s safe to say that Jo is one of the most respected sneaker heads and businessmen in the game, mainly because of his vision of coupling style with sustainability. An ode to this, Sneaker LAB has created a premium shoe care product range that has exchanged harsh chemicals for pro-bacterial biotechnology — benefiting the environment in the long run. Fast Company SA sat down for an exclusive interview with Jo about his vision and business growth. 

What sparked your interest for sneakers and streetwear culture? 
Since I can remember, I’ve always had an interest in clothing and fashion. Throughout my childhood, I was exposed to art and music which developed my understanding and appreciation of aesthetics. Old school hip-hop, the Beasty Boys, NWA and A Tribe Called Quest heavily influenced me as a creative. 

How did you develop the concept of Sneaker LAB and what was your motivation for turning this vision into a reality? 
In 2008, I went into business with two friends who owned a streetwear store in Cape Town. We established a guerrilla marketing agency, working predominantly with well-known sneaker brands and retailers. I noticed there was a gap in the market for a high-end sneaker care brand and I had made numerous contacts through working in the industry. I took my time in developing the brand, product and aesthetics of it before market testing. The initial test-run in stores was so successful that the product sold out in two days. We now have stores in Johannesburg and downtown Los Angeles. 

Innovation lies at the heart of Sneaker LAB’s products and services. How do you believe  YOUR sneaker care products embody this? 
Innovation is extremely important — it is our greatest differentiator from competitor brands. When I started Sneaker LAB, I wanted it to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, but with better results than anything currently available on the market. I spent a great deal of time researching biodegradable cleaning solutions. This resulted in our unique sneaker care and protection formulas which utilise bacteria and enzymes to hyper-escalate nature’s organic cleaning process. The biotechnology functions at a molecular level and continues to work long after application. The products are water-based and the packaging is suitable for recycling. 

How important is innovation when it comes to the success of any business?
Innovation is essential. If you’re not abreast of what’s going on in the world, how will you stay ahead of the competition? If a company is not thinking differently, it will become stale and the consumer will lose interest. Innovation is not just limited to your product, it needs to be practised throughout your business — from the way you approach marketing to the way you speak to consumers.

In six years, you’ve built a brand with a Global presence. What were your key business components for achieving this?
I believe in planning properly and surrounding yourself with people who are exceptional at what they do. As an entrepreneur, you can’t be the best in every facet of the business. It’s crucial to have key people that will ensure business growth. I also believe in rewarding my team for their hard work and ensuring they enjoy their jobs. If your whole team is enthused and energised towards a common goal, you’ll have an accelerated rate of achieving it. Giving back is also a key component. Helping others to succeed plays a role in your own success. We work with aspiring artists and underprivileged youth. People want to belong to something more than just a brand, that’s why we constantly strive to be socially-conscious.

How important is community upliftment and youth development for Sneaker LAB? 
It’s imperative for us. As soon as the business was financially viable, we started donating a portion of all sales to gold Youth Development Agency — a South African organisation committed to developing young African leaders. We’ve been supporting the organisation for three and a half years. They work closely with youngsters in the poorest communities in Southern Africa, with the end goal of helping them obtain a university education. The young leaders are trained to have an influence in their communities through peer education, despite obstacles such as poverty, apathy, inadequate education, unemployment, orphanhood, gender inequality and HIV. One of the their graduates is currently employed at Sneaker LAB.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’ve always envisioned taking the brand to a global level. Things have accelerated rapidly since 2013 and we’re currently represented in 60 countries. Our plans are to open more retail spaces where our brand offers an immersive experience. We have recently expanded beyond shoes into products for hat and denim care. Our aim is to be the number one shoe care brand in the world. 


Future spa treatments may include virtual island getaways at the click of a button

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

A getaway to an exotic location is an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. However, booking a vacation every time a stressful moments presents itself would break the bank. One of the many upsides of living in the digital age is the fact that innovation is the norm. That’s where The Wend Virtual Relaxation experience comes in – a concept that marries spa days and travel with the click of a button. 

Founded by mom-of-three Melloney Rijnvis, this invention enhances a spa visit with realistic audio and immersive visuals. The idea came about because of Melloney’s own ineffective spa ex-perience. “During a visit to a spa for a much-needed relaxation treatment, I found myself staring at floor tiles,”  she explains. “Due to the lack of visual stimulation, my mind was soon racing with my ‘to-do’ list, stresses and every-thing negative I could think about.” An impulsive chat with her husband and 10 short months later, The Wend became a reality. “With a one-of-a-kind app boasting new technology, a professional 180/360° video pro-duction studio, a comfortable office and strong team, I couldn’t be prouder of how far we have come in such a short time.”

The Wend functions through a virtual reality headset, like the Oculus Rift, which interacts with a tablet. Operated by a therapist, guests can choose from a selection of virtual relaxation videos to complement their treatment, then simply put the headphones on to enjoy the experience. The spa offers a range of videos available to their clients yet the library is ever-growing. 

Guests are transported to destinations including Cape Town, London and Mallorca — going as far as to the North-ern Lights and even swimming with dolphins. Users can personalise their sessions with specific relaxation settings such as waterfalls and beaches. According to Melloney, The Wend is not designed to compete with trad-itional spa experiences but rather to enhance it. “There is no substitute for human touch and interaction is crucial to the success of the spa industry. Knowing this, we have developed The Wend experience accordingly.”

The Wend was designed to com-plement the fast-paced, tech-heavy lifestyles of Millennials and Gen-eration Z. “Life is far more stressful for the Millennials and GenZ than it ever was for the previous generation,” she reflects. “They are not fearful of tech-nology. Instead, they embrace it and see technology as a necessity. They are attracted to the latest trends and quick fixes, which makes the possi-bility of a quick escape during their lunch break a truly ingenious creation.”

The tangible benefits of deep virtual relaxation sessions? Better sleeping patterns, increased mental health, improved concentration levels and effective de-stressing techniques. It also helps people navigate through tough life situations. 

Based on intensive research, the team at The Wend identified South Africans as being a “spa-loving nation”. The technology has already had a success-ful trial period at Camelot Spa, and the Armani Spa and Sorbet Group are prospective clients too. The Wend is also looking to have a presence at smaller, independently-owned spas. On the next steps, Melloney says: “We would love to introduce The Wend to places where it can have a healing effect. We have identified oncology and rehabilitation centres as our next target market.”


Improving your mental health in the workplace with Work Mind Matters

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

Metal health advocate organisation, Work Mind Matters, have announced the launch of their inaugural Work Mind Matters Conference taking place in September this year, ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month in October. Mental wellness in the workplace is fundamental to the success of any business, and the Work Mind Matters Conference aims to start conversations around this concept, providing business leaders with a platform for engagement and collaborative problem solving that suits the unique needs of their organisation.

“The concept for this conference was born out of the realisation of the impact that mental ill health is having on both employers and employees in the South African workplace, along with the lack of open dialogue which currently surrounds this crucial topic,” says Work Mind Matters founder and occupational therapist, Alison Hallett. “Our vision is to see people thrive in the workplace, grow a platform of support within organisations around mental health and develop solutions that will transform workplace culture and enhance mental wellness at all levels of organisations within the South African and African context. At the same time, we strive to break the stigma surrounding mental illness” said Hallett, who is also the South African ambassador of the MAD World Summit held in London each year.

Event Director, Bronwyn Redding-Jones added “We have had a wonderful response to the conference, partly because this is starting to become such a key topic and in part, I believe, due to the host of dynamic and influential business leaders and specialists we have lined up as speakers including our key note speaker Geoff McDonald, a London based mental health campaigner who is very active in breaking the stigma associated with mental health in the corporate world”. She adds: “in South Africa we are about 2 to 3 years behind what they are doing in the UK surrounding the stigma of mental health, so we’re delighted to be hosting Geoff McDonald from [email protected] UK.”

This one-day business conference will take place at The Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town on 6 September 2019. With a capacity of 250 delegates, the attendees will include CEOs, COOs, HR Directors and the like from across South Africa and Africa

To purchase tickets and learn more about the Work Mind Matters conference, visit the website at workmindmatters.com


Lightweight and Portable Entertainment with Samsung’s New Galaxy Tab S5e

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

It’s lighter than a cup of coffee and equally refreshing — Samsung’s newly launched Galaxy Tab S5e is built for connectivity and entertainment. The tablet packs smart features that deliver all the essentials of a regular tablet and much more. With its big, immersive screen and impressive sound, this innovative device offers an amazing entertainment experience. Its slim, lightweight design offers unmatched comfort, while its intelligent features let you discover a world of convenience in your daily life.

Refined Design 

With its gorgeous, refreshed design, the Tab S5e embodies practicality and style. It has an incredibly thin 5.5mm sleek metal body and weighs only 400g. It’s also ultra-portable, durable and designed to integrate seamlessly into your everyday lifestyle. Available in a range of fresh and modern monochromatic colours including Silver, Black, and Gold, you can choose a style that reflects your look.

Optimised Entertainment 

The Galaxy Tab S5e’s superior sAMOLED display and minimised bezel allows you to have an immersive viewing experience without any distractions. With its four auto-rotating stereo speakers, you can enjoy rich, wide sound, no matter how you hold it. On top of that, Dolby Atmos’s 3D surround sound and AKG’s cutting-edge technology are combined to provide you with a clear and vivid, true-to-life audio experience. So, whatever you’re watching will look and sound better than you’d ever expect.

Longer Lasting Performance 

With the Galaxy Tab S5e’s ample 7,040 mAh battery, you can watch up to 14.5 hours of video and enjoy the content you love as much as you want. Additionally, the Call & Message Continuity feature lets your Galaxy Tab S5e stay connected with your phone just by using the same Samsung account, so you don’t have to miss any incoming calls or messages on your phone while watching content on the device.

The Galaxy Tab S5e comes complete with a versatile and smart keyboard cover, valued at R1999. For South Africans looking for their next tablet, this is undeniably one made to be enjoyed, in every way.

Images supplied


G-Star Raw Launches Sustainably Dyed Collection from Upcycled Plant Waste

BY Farah Khalfe 1 MINUTE READ

In an on-going collaboration with EarthColors by Archroma, G-Star is continuing to push the boundaries of innovation and sustainability in the fashion world. The denim apparel brand has launched a new collection of garments dyed with upcycled saw palmetto leaf leftovers and beetroot waste.

In 2017, G-Star was the world’s first denim brand to collaborate with Archroma and create a collection of circular plant-based dyed jeans. EarthColors® by Archroma, are dyes derived from upcycled plant waste that are traceable from earth to product. This season, the denim brand’s new EarthColors® by Archroma range will include jeans, denim jackets, shirts, t-shirts and sweats for both men and women. The range is available in three colors: one colorway originating from upcycled beetroot food waste and two originating from saw palmetto leaf leftovers from the herbal industry.

Founded in 1989, sustainable denim innovation is rooted in G-Star’s nature. Not only do they focus on cutting-edge aesthetics but also on the wider impact they have. They combine optimized design with eco-friendly fibers, such as organic cotton, recycled cotton and TENCEL™ with EarthColors® by Archroma dyestuff and sustainable washing techniques. By partnering with Archroma, they are championing their goal for a circular approach to how denim is made and used – in a transparent way, and developing sustainable solutions for the future of fashion.


The Dyed by Nature collection is available in-stores from July 2019.








Going wireless with Bang & Olufsen’s new Beoplay earphones

BY Farah Khalfe 1 MINUTE READ

Danish electronics company Bang & Olufsen have released their new Beoplay E8.20 wireless earphones, merging cutting-edge design with exceptional sound quality.  

Now available for purchase in South Africa, the earphones have been specially upgraded with features specifically requested by the Bang and Olufsen community.

These include a wireless charging case that holds up to three full charges and provides 16 hours of playing time, and the option of purchasing separate left and right earphones. When it comes to sound, the external Bang and Olufsen app for iOS and Android allows users to tune the sound themselves – ensuring a complete hands-free experience.

The premium leather charging case is equipped with an LED light on the front to indicate the state of the charge, while three lights on the back of the case shows the number of full charges left in the case.

Beoplay E8 2.0 comes complete with the case, five ear tips and UBS-C charging cable. The earphones are launching in the colours black, indigo blue, natural and pink, with a recommended retail price of R5 799. Products are now available at the four Bang & Olufsen stores (Mall of Africa, Melrose Arch, Sandton City, Silo Cape Town) and will soon be available online at takealot.com and makro.co.za.

The Bang & Olufsen Wireless Charging Pad (sold separately) will be available in black. Separate Beoplay E8 2.0 left and right earphones retail for R2 099 each and the wireless charging pad will retail for R2099.


For Putting Security First

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

Warren Myers, Founder and innovator of safety technology app AURA, believes there’s a critical need for better access to security in South Africa. Upon this principle, Warren founded the AURA app in 2017 after him and his partner, at the time, seized an opportunity to improve CCTV monitoring at their company.

“Crimes happen extremely fast,” Warren says. “If you can’t get someone out there immediately, time and resources are wasted, and justice is not served. This is what ignited AURA as a panic button solution.”

Today, AURA functions as an innovative digital response network comprised of more than a hundred independent armed response providers. Responders in the past have showed a lack of cohesion, often compromising their ability to provide customers with instantaneous and consolidated national response coverage. AURA solves this through creating one powerful national security response “organism” to which customers have immediate access. All they have to do is push the alarm button which then activates a distress signal that is sent out to over 1 500 armed responders. The closest response vehicle is immediately dispatched to the scene, without an alert room controller disrupting the process. 

On the backend, AURA constantly absorbs data to continuously improve its service. “The magic of AURA is really going to shine once we have a large base of users providing Big Data, which we can use to drastically improve our service,” explains Warren. “We want to achieve this ‘snowball’ effect whereby more users result in better services, resulting in more customers. We believe with the right amount of data and artificial intelligence (AI), we can begin the exciting journey of predicting incidents of crime.” AURA aims to sell its services to corporates with large databases and vast distribution. Uber is already on board.

AURA’s overarching vision is to reduce violent crime in South Africa by 50% by 2025 using Big Data and AI.

Read more in the March/April issue of Fast Company South Africa.


For Leading the Pack When it Comes to Tackling World Issues

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

It’s in their DNA

International software specialists SAP have dominated the digital enterprise space for decades. Founded in Germany, the company boasts a strong foothold in over 180 countries and serves 365 000 customers worldwide. Recently, SAP’s South African branch ranked eighth on the Global Top Employers rankings for 2019 for having exceptional working conditions for employees. SAP prides itself on assisting organisations in the public and private sector to manage risk, utilise resources more effectively and develop detailed business strategies in the digital sphere. “SAP is an innovative company because of the resources invested in research and development, with 28% of our global headcount in research and development as of December 2018,” says Sunil Geness, SAP Africa’s Director of Government Relations and CSR. “The culture of innovation is given true expression worldwide through more than 100 development locations, 20 development centres (SAP Labs), 17 co-innovation labs, seven SAP innovation centre network locations and a partner network of more than 18 800 companies globally.”

Wild solution

Big problems often need a macro-level approach to solving them. Africa’s wildlife poaching problem is one such issue that is in dire need of a creative solution. SAP has paired up with ERP-USE to systematically minimise human-to-wildlife contact in light of the severity of rhino and elephant poaching on the continent. Piloted through a project called ERP Airforce, endangered animals are fitted with GPS collars and their movements are monitored by conservationists. When an animal is in danger or has reached a boundary, reserves are notified and are able to respond more quickly to the animal in distress. 

Every life counts

Given the high rate of violence against women in Nigeria, Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has integrated SAP’s People Connect 365 mobile service into their gatekeeping initiative. To date, the project – sponsored by the ACT Foundation – has equipped over 500 mid-wives with the skills to use the software to spread awareness about trafficking, rape and abuse against women. This is done through the sharing of numerous text messages and weekly reports detailing ongoing instances of crime in Nigeria. With statistics like one in four girls falling victim to a sexual crime before reaching 18 years old, this method of communication has aided in providing timeous treatment and support to those in need. 

Read more in the March/April issue of Fast Company South Africa.


For ironing out the logistics behind local courier services

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

In the context of supply chain management, “last mile distribution” is the efficient movement of goods from one place to another. While ideally a seamless process, a lack of physical and digital infrastructure in Africa has left many industry players faced with logistical challenges. 

“The service at the national post office has deteriorated and couriers need an average of 2.5 attempts for every successful delivery, while 75% of the sub-Saharan population has limited access to goods and services because of the areas in which they live,” say Lars Veul and Derk Hoekert, Dutch Co-founders of logistics and delivery company, Pargo. “These areas include informal settlements and rural areas, which often lack proper addresses and couriers find challenging to service. High security housing estates, large office buildings and universities are other examples of areas where courier delivery is tricky.”

Most of us aren’t at home all day waiting for the delivery man. Neither do we have someone to receive parcels on our behalf. This is not only painful for business, but even more so for customers. On a global scale, the cost of logistics is estimated to be around 8% of the shipment value of e-commerce products, while in Africa this figure is a hefty 15%. 

After experiencing such issues first hand, Lars and Derk gave some thought into developing an alternative courier solution that prides itself on speed, convenience and reliability. In 2015, after much deliberation over countless coffee meet-ups, Pargo was born. The company acts as a multichannel platform specialising in smart logistics, giving customers the option of having their parcels delivered to dedicated outlets and collecting them at their convenience. 

Pargo currently has a network of over 2 000 pick-up points and will be expanding into Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. Big names on board as partners with Pargo include FNB, The Foschini Group and Cape Union Mart. 

Pargo’s multichannel delivery frame-work mitigates the effects of South Africa’s stark digital disparity between socio-economic sects. With a flat-rate for returns and deliveries anywhere in the country, their mission is to make delivery more accessible, affordable and convenient for anyone in Africa. 

Essentially, Pargo puts autonomy back into the hands of consumers and shakes up traditional shortfalls of linear delivery we’ve all grown accustomed to. 

Read more in the March/April 2019 issue of Fast Company South Africa.