10.08.19

G-Star Raw x Planetcare collab to fight microfibre pollution

BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

Committed to supporting the research and development of innovative, sustainable solutions, G-Star is excited to help promote the PlanetCare Microfibre filter. Microfibre pollution is a macro problem that affects our everyday lives, infiltrating our oceans and drinking water, killing off marine life, and causing multiple health risks and illnesses of people across the globe. This revolutionary filter was created by PlanetCare, a leading developer of microfibre filtering solutions, to combat the problem of microfibre pollution. 

The main source of microfibres are the clothes we wear every day. Clothing containing synthetic materials shed microfibres each time they are washed. A typical 6kg wash load of polyester fabrics is estimated to release up to 9,000,000 microfibres with every wash cycle (#NoFilter). The PlanetCare Microfibre filter, available as an add-on compatible with every type of washing machine found in households, collects up to 90% of microfibres shed by clothing (#YesFilter). According to the Plastic Soup Foundation, a leading advocacy group tackling plastic pollution, the PlanetCare Microfibre filter is the best available microfibre filter in the industry.

Having worked with the Plastic Soup Foundation to fight the synthetic microfibre problem since 2016, G-Star is proud to be the first clothing brand to support the PlanetCare initiative. PlanetCare’s mission as well as their circular approach to collecting used filters, recycling them and providing households with new ones aligns with G-Star’s holistic approach to sustainability and using innovation to solve environmental issues.

The PlanetCare Microfibre filter is available as a subscription via their website. 


10.07.19

The emotionally intelligent way to deal with 5 types of co-workers

BY Fast Company 4 MINUTE READ

For most people, work takes up a huge chunk of their time. Americans, in particular, tend to work longer hours than their peers in other developed countries, according to OECD data. For the nonremote and nonsolo workers, spending a lot of time at work equates to spending a lot of time with your colleagues. So when one of them has annoying or destructive habits, you want to identify them early on and figure out how to deal with the issue in an emotionally intelligent way. Here are some steps to follow, based on personality type:

1. THE EGOMANIAC COWORKER
This colleague seems incapable of giving others credit and constantly wants to hog the limelight. In a meeting, they will shut down other people’s ideas and insist on why their ideas are better, even when everyone else thinks otherwise.

Your colleague may be an egomaniac or a narcissist. Because individuals with these kinds of characteristics are prone to putting people down to make themselves feel better, it’s tempting to get defensive and tell them why they’re wrong. But that’s not going to help the situation, and it definitely won’t stop them from doing it in the future.

So what can you do? Rather than stroke their ego or ignore them altogether, clinical psychologist Craig Malkin previously told Fast Company that a better way is to “catch” and acknowledge them when they display good behavior. Say they bring you coffee one day when they know that you have a pressing deadline. “It’s way more effective to pay attention to those moments and encourage them. You can say, ‘Thanks for offering coffee. I feel like you’ve got my back and I want to press harder,’” said Malkin.

2. THE GOSSIPING COWORKER
Unfortunately, gossiping doesn’t stop after middle school. It’s human nature to gossip. According to a 2019 study, people spent an average of 52 minutes a day gossiping (out of the 16 hours that they are awake).

A little bit of gossip may be harmless, but when it crosses the line to rumours and unnecessary drama, it breeds negativity and drains your emotional energy. It can also make employees suspicious of one another because they have trouble discerning who to trust and who will spread unsavoury rumours.

There are several ways to deal with office gossip. In a previous article for Fast Company, Lisa Evans suggests surrounding yourself with a positive crowd rather than those who have the tendency to “sniff out” gossip. If you do find yourself inadvertently interacting with an office gossip, you can either leave the conversation or challenge them on the accuracy of the information.

Evans wrote, “Asking, ‘How do you know that?’ can help you to determine if the conversation is one of gossip or one of fact-sharing. Asking questions like this also helps to position you as a person only interested in sharing factual information, not as someone who is interested in having a conversation around speculation and gossip.”

3. THE ETERNAL PESSIMIST COWORKER
Every job has its downsides, and there’s nothing wrong with openly acknowledging what they are. But there’s a difference between pointing something out with the intention of changing things for the better and looking for reasons why everything is terrible.

The eternal pessimist, or the chronic complainer, does just that. It may just be one person, but their energy has the potential to influence the whole office. As Gwen Moran previously wrote for Fast Company, there are many possibilities for individuals to behave this way. They may feel like they’re not being heard, for example, and want someone to validate their feelings.

One way to help them feel heard is to acknowledge their emotions. Note, this does not mean you have to agree with them. Speaker and coach Erica Latrice previously told Fast Company, “If you are in an environment where you have to be around complainers a lot, just use the phrase, ‘If I were you, I would feel the same way.’” You can also try and reframe the situation, or ask them if they’ve thought about a potential solution to solve the problem they’re complaining about.

4. THE LAZY AND INCOMPETENT COWORKER
If you’re an ambitious employee who gives 110% to their work, it can be frustrating to have to work with someone who does the total opposite. This person may do just the bare minimum when you’re working together in a project, or they’ll turn in work that you end up having to redo, because the quality is poor.

It’s tempting to want to vent to your boss and colleagues, but the emotionally intelligent response would be to understand why they’re feeling this way. As Alyse Kalish previously wrote for the Muse, it may be that their supervisor isn’t managing them according to what motivates them. Say they’re someone who values autonomy and freedom. They’re unlikely to respond enthusiastically if someone tells them to do something by a particular date. They may, however, respond well to a challenge. Something like, “It seems like most people don’t think we’ll be able to hit our targets this month. What do you think?”

5. THE BULLYING COWORKER
Like gossips, bullies don’t just hang around on playgrounds. While some grow up to be decent human beings, others continue to terrorise and instil fear in people in offices and workplaces. They may thrive on humiliating others publicly or take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities. They may also abuse their position of power and treat anyone who reports to them with disrespect.

As Gwen Moran previously wrote for Fast Company, the best thing you can do if you’re on the receiving end of their treatment is not to react. This might be difficult to do, but if you react, you’ve given the bully what they want, said workplace abuse expert Patricia G. Barnes, author of Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees, and Psychopaths in the Workplace.

When they don’t get a reaction they want, they’ll be more likely to stop. And if they don’t stop, then it’s time to start documenting their actions so you have evidence to bring your case to the higher-ups. And if that doesn’t work? The most emotionally intelligent thing to do is probably to start looking for a job elsewhere.


Article originally appeared on fastcompany.com

10.03.19

World Mental Health Day: How social media impacts the mental health and wellbeing of children

BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

On World Mental Health Day (10 October), supported by the World Health Organisation, The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) notes that nine percent of all teenage deaths in the country are by suicide, adding that suicide is the second leading and fastest growing cause of death among young South Africans in the 15-25 age group. 

Cassey Chambers, SADAG’s Operations Director, says 90 percent of adolescents who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness – frequently, depression. While some people do have a genetic tendency towards depression, others develop it as a result of loneliness and social isolation, bullying, loss, abuse, and conflict. And there’s a catalyst that this generation is having to contend with – social media. 

The first detailed study of how social media affects the mental health of young users has found that increased participation in social media networks (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and others) was associated with increased psychological distress – with the effects almost twice as severe among girls. 

MySociaLife, South Africa’s premier social media and online safety educator, is seeing the effects of social media first-hand when it engages with teens and tweens about their online life during its 10-module schools program.

“Students in every program we run tell us about the pressure they feel around life online, and many agree that  it bends their character or values, leading to inappropriate or out of character behaviour,” says  Dean McCoubrey, founder of MySociaLife, which supports parents, teachers and psychologists to help children feel safer and behave smarter online. 

“This age group is not adequately equipped to manage the complexity of the varied risks, temptations and dangers online. When parents and teachers understand the development stages of kids and how these devices and platforms influence their neurochemistry at this vulnerable and immature stage, we can all start to grasp why this is happening,” he says.

“The detrimental effects of social media can be reduced by educating not only teens and pre-teens, but also parents, teachers and school counsellors,” he adds. “We created four programs, and not just a student program, because everyone has to help. Not enough people understand the complexity of how humans react and respond to social media, and what the consequences of those responses can be.” 

A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal highlights that ‘teenagers who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to develop mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behaviour.’

“This can worsen if the device or game or social platform is removed suddenly, leading to actual withdrawal symptoms typical of any addiction,” adds McCoubrey. Furthermore, young people explore the internet on their own without the one-on-one guidance of parents or teachers, and even if filters are applied, they may stumble onto content that they’re not yet ready to process. 

Whether it’s being exposed to adult content, or feeling left out of social events that friends are posting about, or cyber bullying and intimidation, young people often have emotional experiences about online content that they don’t know how to deal with.

They often suppress their feelings or feel embarrassed or scared to talk about what they’ve seen, which in turn leads to emotional withdrawal or even depression. Between 30 and 40% of teens and pre-teens say they cannot share their concerns with their parents, aligning with global data and emphasizing that schools and parents should take children’s social media experiences much more seriously.” 

McCoubrey buys into technology completely, which he says is changing the world in so many life-changing, creative, entertaining, and philanthropic ways, but the fact remains children need digital education.

“Even if you’re cynical, and don’t believe  the safety and mental health concerns, being educated about online issues will help them to be smarter digital citizens which will in turn help them to differentiate themselves in the future. If South Africa is to achieve its Fourth Industrial Revolution ‘promises,’ then programs like MySociaLife will need to be ubiquitous.

“We are one of the few organizations which know about the reality of what’s happening in this age group. We see and hear from learners who are struggling with what they experience online, whether it be something thrilling or shocking. The problem is that parents, teachers and guardians can be the last to know,” he explains. 

World Mental Health Day gives parents and children the opportunity to start conversations about mental illness, emphasising that there is no shame in struggling with mental health, while re-establishing those vital real-life connections. With 75 percent of teen suicides having spoken about their intention before proceeding, there’s a strong possibility that parents, teachers and friends that listen carefully to depressed teens may indeed be able to act in time to save a life. 

”So many kids are so ”social” and yet so many are also feeling alone – it’s the great paradox of social media. We will look back on this time, in a decade or two I think, and ask why we didn’t prepare our children more carefully about life online,” he concludes.


10.01.19

Capitec Bank continues to break ground with new reality show

BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

In a first for SA’s finance industry, Capitec Bank and SABC 3 have launched The Next Brand Ambassador, an Apprentice-style reality TV talent show. Finalists will compete for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with Capitec Bank’s marketing team. A series of challenges will test marketing mettle and creativity and, in the end, only one brand ambassador will be named.

Sbusiso Kumalo, Head of Brand Marketing at Capitec, says, “This is a first-of-its-kind talent search in South Africa that positions talent management in a completely new, future-fit way. It’s absolutely aligned to Capitec’s industry-leading approach to talent, which champions empowerment and equality.”

He said Capitec perceives talent management as an evolving ecosystem. “We recognise we need to continuously be assessing the digital-age skills we require to fulfil key roles. That means thinking ahead. It means strong succession planning. It means finding ambassadors who embody our ethics. It means identifying influencers who add real value and who can build connections in a way that opens up a bigger conversation in terms of new-generation methods of finding talent.”

The TV series, which has consistently received over 1-million views since its debut, is now in its fourth week. After weeks of battling it out in regional rounds in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town where skill, teamwork, creativity, and marketing savvy were tested, the Top 12 finalists were revealed and have arrived at their glamorous new home in the Mother City. Six of the contestants hail from Johannesburg, three from Cape Town, and one each from Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth.

Social media, fashion and entertainment icon and series judge, Nandi Madida is thrilled with the selection and is extremely positive about the road ahead. “The Top 12 are a reflection of true excellence that we have in the youth of our country. There’s a reason they’ve made it to the Top 12 and that reason is to take Capitec Bank to the next level. I’m proud of all the contestants who have made it this far and I wish them all the best,” says an upbeat Madida.

The finalists are Sharadel Reddy, Nkanyi ‘Slays’ Wallace, Chace Geyer, Mpho Monareng, and Keitumetse Moepang from Johannesburg. Porschia Kim Pedro, Nasiphi Fazi, and Asandiswa ‘Afiba’ Mhlauli from Cape Town, with Siyamthanda Ndamase representing Durban, Teneal Fredericks hailing from Port Elizabeth, and Zinika Gwele from East London.

“Synthesizing the groundswell of nationwide entries and now the Top 12 has been one of the most intricate parts of our judging process thus far,’’ says judge and branding guru, Sylvester Chauke. “For me, there were a number of factors to consider and two major ones being, could this be our winner and do they share the values and skill we need to see in a Brand Ambassador? The Top 12 have demonstrated that they have what it takes to take on the challenges ahead and fight to win.’’

Echoing Chauke’s words, fellow judge and digital marketing leader, Odette van der Haar comments, “The Top 12 contestants have clearly demonstrated their inherent creativity, teamwork and leadership skills. Each of the contestants excelled in the challenges thus far, they outperformed their fellow contestants by being consistent in the delivery of their tasks week after week. Most importantly, each of the Top 12 have a great attitude, a deep desire to succeed and passion for the business of marketing and branding.”

Hamilton Ngubo, SABC 3 Programming Manager, agrees, saying, “The last four episodes have displayed the exceptional quality of talent South Africa has in the creative industry. As SABC3, we are proud to have provided a platform for this talent to shine. The Next Brand Ambassador judges have worked hard to ensure that only the best of the best and most qualified rise to the top and from episode 5, we hope the viewers are ready. As for the Top 12 contestants who will be battling it out in the next weeks — the stage is yours. Own it!”

The Next Brand Ambassador broadcasts on Thursdays at 19h30 on SABC3 and repeats on Saturday at 14h00.

09.18.19

Highlights from the World Economic Forum Africa in Cape Town

BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

As the world enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution – driven by emerging technologies and ubiquitous data – Africa is seeking to forge a new path towards societal and economic growth. At the WEF Africa Summit in Cape Town last week, some pertinent issues were discussed and solutions put forth as to how Africa can harness this new wave of technology and unite as a global player in business, innovation and excellence.

These are some of the highlights from the conference. 

1. The Africa Growth Platform was launched to help start-up businesses access finance, advice and better regulatory conditions. The platform will help Africa’s community of start-up enterprises grow and compete in international markets. The platform will do this by securing commitments from governments to implement policy reforms aimed at stimulating and accelerating business growth; building a community of investors comprising private investors, foundations, multilateral institutions and corporate intrapreneurs to better coordinate and pool resources that could facilitate larger subsequent rounds of funding; and creating and sustaining a community of start-up businesses to promote collaboration and share best practices.

2. The African Risk Resilience Platform was initiated. It will combine private-sector resources with those of governments to help countries prepare for climate- and disease-related disasters. 

3. The World Economic Forum teamed with the International Trade Centre to kick off an E-Commerce Action Agenda. The initiative is aimed at promoting cross-border data services in Africa, an industry that could create 3 million jobs across the region by 2025. Yet e-commerce start-ups face many obstacles, including low levels of consumer digital trust, poor infrastructure and low regional integration. Building on consultations with business leaders and experts, the Africa E-Commerce Agenda is a call to action for Africa’s political leaders, the international trade community and the development community. The agenda recognizes that, for e-commerce businesses to prosper, an ecosystem of digital technology and supporting companies must flourish, with a mix of local and global action needed to leverage cross-border opportunities. 

4.The African Union, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, launched a new foundation paving the way for the private sector to help build capacity and resources to strengthen health security across the continent. 

5.The World Bank and the Forum teamed up with African governments to launch an innovation challenge aimed at finding new ways of using drones across Africa. The competition, supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, is a precursor to the Africa Drone Forum, which will be held for the first time in 2020 in Rwanda.

6.The Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership signed a national partnership with the country of Ghana. The partnership aims to combine public- and private-sector resources to tackle plastic pollution and unmanaged waste. The partnership is the first signed with an African country, following an initial partnership signed with Indonesia earlier this year.

7. Call for action on violnec against women. Spiralling levels of violence against women in Africa require immediate action from governments and businesses, including tangible measures to create safe spaces. Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Director of African Monitor, urged tech companies to take a lead in delivering solutions. “It would take a click of a finger for a tech company to say we are going to deploy a software that can assist us with an emergency response system for poor women in South Africa free of charge.” The potential for technology to help in the fightback highlights the need for businesses to think creatively, given that cyberbullying can also contribute to discrimination. The business community should also step up to the plate by backing a gender-based fund to address the deep-rooted problems behind physical and sexual assaults. The failure to protect women is not just a moral issue; it also comes with a high economic cost. “Who drives African communities? It’s our women. Our women can drive Africa’s development, if given the chance, if protected, if their rights are respected,” said Hafsat Abiola-Costello, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women in Africa Initiative. “Africa missed the first industrial revolution, we missed the second, we missed the third. If we don’t address this issue, we will miss the fourth.”


09.10.19

Quickfire career Q&A with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian

BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

The inventor of the “front page of the internet”, Reddit and Initialized Capital co-founder takes our career questionnaire.

What’s your best habit and your worst?
My best is that I’m relentless about improving — I’m good at being motivated by criticism. My worst is saying yes to things when I should default to no.

When I’m creatively stuck, I…
Play a quick match of Heroes of the Storm if my friends are on.

What’s the business buzzword you never want to hear or see again?
Hustle porn [the fetishisation of overworking]. It’s my mission to purge the farce.

What’s the best mistake you ever made?
Oversleeping that morning in Rome and meeting my future wife at breakfast.

When I need to unplug, I…
Hide my phone and play with my daughter.

What book do you recommend to everyone?
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, a sci-fi adventure about the costs of war and the illusion of free will. I used it in my history-major thesis to frame a study of the 1945 bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut was a veteran of the Second World War, and was in Dresden as a POW when the bombs fell. 

What’s the advice you’re glad you ignored?
Paul Graham, our first Reddit investor, and my co-founder [Steve Huffman] tried to convince me to get rid of Snoo, the Reddit mascot I created. I’m grateful I ignored them because now it’s iconic.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Spend more time with your parents, and don’t be so quick to grow up and be independent

What was your career fork in the road?
I walked out of an LSAT and into a Waffle House, realising I didn’t want to be a lawyer. That’s when I decided to be an entrepreneur. I persuaded my [University of Virginia] roommate to turn down his job offer and work with me to build Reddit.

What’s your work uniform?
Black-fitted T-shirt. AG jeans. Atoms or Jordan 1s.

What’s your favourite form of exercise?
Strength training on free weights or Tonal (digital weight machine). I just installed a heavy bag in my Florida office.

What TV show are you mid-binge on?
I was obsessed with the Punisher comic books as a kid. I’m trying to savour the second season on Netflix right now.

What is your mantra?
“Pain is growth.”

What do you send to congratulate someone?
A bottle of Shakmat! Armenian brandy should be shared among friends and loved ones.

What’s your get-pumped song?
“Power,” by Kanye West.



Article originally published in Fast Company SA’s June/July issue. 

09.04.19

Four business travel productivity killers

BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ
Most business travellers will tell you that productivity takes a backseat when travelling for work. Fatigue, jet lag and long wait times all take their toll, making it more difficult for road warriors to remain focussed and plugged-in while on-the-go. 
We chatted to Pearl Mucabel, Key Account Manager for Flight Centre Business Travel about her top travel hacks to overcome the most common productivity killers on the road. 
1. Spending long hours organising your trip
Did you know that the average traveller visits around 38 websites before booking a trip? Business travellers also read an average of five reviews before booking, which in itself is estimated to take approximately 45 minutes. 
“Time spent on organising your own trip is a huge productivity waster,” says Mucabel. What’s more is that research done by Flight Centre Business Travel shows that travel arrangements for almost 45% of all business trips are changed at least once. Managing these changes – and the effect they have on every other arrangement made – take a lot of time and can be a nightmare if you’re not a travel expert.
Says Mucabel: “Working with a travel management company cuts out the time investment and allows you to focus on what really matters. Having a dedicated travel manager is like having your own travel personal assistant.”

2. Delays and long waits at the airport
Imagine that you arrive at the airport only to find that your flight has been delayed by more than four hours. Panic sets in as the delay means you will no doubt arrive late to your client’s meeting. 
When delays occur, reliable and real-time information is key to mitigate any possible knock-on effects on your productivity, says Mucabel. 
If you are faced with an unexpected window of time at the airport, Mucabel advises the airport lounge can become your new productivity hub – or your relaxation oasis. Business lounges vary in their offering. In the swankier lounges, expect spa treatments, comfortable beds, and a chauffeur drive to your plane in a luxury car, but at the very least you’ll find comfortable seating, clean rest rooms, steady Wi-Fi, and complimentary snacks and drinks.
3. No reliable Wi-Fi
Who has never balanced on one leg in the corner of a room trying to get cell phone signal to download that important e-mail? 
The absence of reliable Wi-Fi is the biggest productivity killer for any business traveller, research has shown. What’s more is that in 2011 the United Nations declared that access to the Internet was a human right and that limiting a person’s access is a violation on their human rights under international law. 
While struggling to find a fast Wi-Fi service during a business trip is probably more of an issue of convenience rather than a human rights violation, it is important to ensure that your chosen accommodation ensures reliable Wi-Fi.
A 2016 survey from English hotelier Roomzzz found that 65% of hotel guests go online within seven minutes of checking in and one third requested the hotel Wi-Fi password as soon as they arrived. A Statista survey of personal and business travellers, conducted in the United States in 2017, revealed that 80% of hotel guests rated internet access as the most crucial hotel service.
Mucabel explains that programmes such as FCBT’s SmartStay will ensure that business travellers have access to free Wi-Fi as well as other perks that could improve productivity such as a healthy breakfast or early check-ins. 
4. Trying to fit too much into a hectic schedule
Business travellers are often faced with a very full and tight agenda, leaving precious little time to relax. It is however crucial to take some personal down-time, as low energy, jetlag and stress are all ‘hidden’ productivity killers. 
Taking a break and doing something that’s completely non-work related could help you to be at the top of your game during business meetings. Taking a brisk walk outside to explore the city could just mitigate the effect of jetlag, while a relaxing massage and a swim in the pool will go a long way in helping you feel more relaxed.
Mucabel explains that taking the family along and extend your business trip by a few days for leisure purposes can be a great productivity booster. 
Turn to your Travel Management Company to know what’s available to make your business trip a little easier, and more productive. Visit www.fcbt.co.za for tips on how to make the most of your business travels. 
09.03.19

4 ways automation is revolutionising the banking sector

BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

Machine learning and AI offer advances that promise to make banking safer, more efficient and more personal for the customer. “The entire industry is moving towards a more digital, instant and customer-centric way of doing business, with AI and automation at their core. There is no doubt AI will usher in new ways of banking,” says Dr Jacques Ludik, smart technology entrepreneur, founder of the Cortex Group and founder of the Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa.

A study by Autonomous Research estimates that artificial intelligence will save banks more than $1 trillion in the United States alone. An Accenture report estimates that AI will add $1.2 trillion in value to the financial industry by 2035. South Africa can expect to face similar savings with the adoption of AI solutions, explains Ludik.

PERSONALISATION
Through machine learning, banking will become ever more personalised. By utilising customer data, machine learning can develop an offering of personalised products suitable to each client. While many banks are already using this feature to understand their customers better, the applications are endless – from tailored credit and savings products to personalised pricing. “For many, these technologies, augmented via their mobile phone, provide a new window into the world of personalised access which, in turn, could rapidly transform society as a whole,” says Ludik. “Through machine learning, banking becomes personalised – tailored to suit each user. Almost as if your bank knows you, it gives you what you want when you want it, and they will never again bombard you with sales calls for services you’re not interested in.”

IMPROVED CUSTOMER SERVICE
With AI, banking hours may become a thing of the past. The future of banking customer service is likely to rely heavily on chatbots. Chatbots use AI to simulate conversation through a computer programme. This allows clients to safely communicate with their bank remotely. The Bank of America has already developed a chatbot named Erica[3], accessible 24/7 and which can perform day-to-day transactions. Over time, chatbots allow banks to develop and store standard responses to frequently asked questions, saving on consultation time currently needed by human assistants. “Banking is just one of the many industries affected by growing demands to improve customer experiences, achievable with digitisation, data analytics and AI,” says Ludik.

BEYOND THE PIN
Banks are starting to make use of biometric data, like fingerprints, to replace passwords and other forms of client verification. By the end of 2020, around 1.9 billion bank customers worldwide will be using biometrics to withdraw cash from ATMs, prove their identity when contacting their bank via telephone and access digital bank services through connected devices, among other things, according to a report from Goode Intelligence. “This technology offers the potential to improve security when accessing banking accounts, as well as protecting personal information and limiting cybercrime,” Ludik explains.

FIGHTING THE FRAUD
AI allows us to sort enormous amounts of data and identify patterns. This becomes vital especially for sifting through millions of transactions, and in identifying patterns that can help prevent fraud. Cybercrime is costing the world almost $600 billion according to a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee, while Price Waterhouse Cooper’s 2018 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey estimates that almost half of all global organisations have experienced financial crime in the past two years.

Many AI solutions are already allowing banks to identify fraudulent transactions in real time and this has the potential to drastically reduce costs. “Digital banking start-ups are creating a more severe sense of urgency for the banking industry to transform, innovate and adopt the latest technologies. This puts pressure on traditional banking to improve, automate and enhance their services in order to remain relevant and competitive,” explains Ludik. “It’s the Cortex Group’s aim to help businesses and society thrive in the Smart Technology era. Change is hard, and the fact that big corporations are willing to put in the hard work is a very positive sign for the future of banking, business and transformation in Africa.


Software vendor IsoMetrix creates sustainable partnership with risk management company NOSA

BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

As two innovative companies at the forefront of their field, IsoMetrix and NOSA are set to collaborate on integrated solutions. 

The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm with $223 billion of assets under management, has acquired a majority stake in IsoMetrix, the world’s leading Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) software vendor, through their $698 million Carlyle Africa (Buyout) Fund. Madison Park Group served as exclusive financial advisor to IsoMetrix on the transaction and existing shareholders and management retain a significant stake in the business.

This investment will equip IsoMetrix for further growth, enabling the company to compete more aggressively for outright leadership within the EHS and integrated risk management software arena through accelerated software development.The acquisition also offers synergies with occupational health and safety (OHS) risk management solutions provider NOSA – another recent Carlyle Group acquisition.   

IsoMetrix and NOSA will continue to operate independently. However, they will collaborate in developing and cross-selling to enterprise clients across mining, oil & gas, power and transport sectors offering a suite of technology-enabled managed solutions designed to address environmental and occupational health and safety risks. 

By working together, IsoMetrix and NOSA, with more than 1,000 client deployments across the world, will pioneer the development of digital EHS managed services to cross-sell EHS and risk software to both IsoMetrix and NOSA’s global customer base, empowering companies across industries to achieve a proactive view of integrated risk to achieve safer, more resilient business models.

IsoMetrix has offices in South Africa, the USA, Canada and Australia and was recently included in the 2019 Verdantix EHS Leaders Quadrant. The Carlyle Group will support the continued growth of IsoMetrix and NOSA through its Sub-Saharan Africa fund and its global network.

As companies face increased scrutiny of their Environmental, Social & Governance performance, IsoMetrix is well-positioned to provide relevant metrics, data-driven insights and expert advice on sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.  


08.30.19

WIN: Africa’s brightest entrepreneurs and innovation thought leaders gather for SA Innovation Summit

BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

The stage is set to accelerate the entrepreneurship space, with the brightest minds in the innovation sector gathering for three days of pitching, partnering on and showcasing the most innovative products and services in Africa. The SA Innovation Summit, taking place from Wednesday 11 to Friday 13 September 2019 at the Cape Town Stadium, will bring over 3500 delegates from 32 countries together to facilitate more than R1bn in deals between investors and start-ups representing the future of innovation.

The Summit is Africa’s biggest tech start-up event and provides a powerful platform for nurturing, developing and showcasing the very best of African innovation, as well as facilitating thought-leadership around innovation. Around 22 universities and research institutions, along with over 600 companies and organisations will be represented at the 2019 event. Now in its 12th year, the Summit provides the ideal ecosystem to match over 1500 entrepreneurs with more than 200 potential investors. In 2018, the Match and Invest platform saw 2400 meetings scheduled over the course of two days.

“The technology and start-up space is underfunded in Africa, yet it yields the greatest results in any economy over time. In the UK every pound spent on innovation and tech start-ups yields nine to the economy. Africa still needs to leverage this potential return in its emerging economies,” says Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, chairperson of the SA Innovation Summit.

“The Summit serves as a catalytic event that strengthens and builds the tech start-up sector. We have evolved into Africa’s biggest and most exciting tech start-up event on the calendar and this year will be no different.”

The 2019 Summit will offer an unmissable line-up of world-class speakers, panel discussions and master classes. Experts from across the continent will deliver insights into the innovation landscape, and provide the knowledge and tools for start-ups to achieve exponential growth.

Two key opportunities offered for start-ups to access are the ANDZA Pitching Den and the Africa Cup.The ANDZA Pitching Den, in collaboration with the SA SME Fund, carries a first place prize of R250 000 and will also give SA’s top entrepreneurs the chance to be considered for R10m in investment funding and acceleration. This competition aims to develop SA entrepreneurs and fast-track them to success, with a focus on seed, venture and growth stage businesses.

The Africa Cup (formerly the SA Innovation Summit Pitching Den) will see the winning start-up – credited for disrupting traditional ways of doing business – receive an investment offer of R5m. The second place start-up will receive an offer of R2.5m and the third place start-up will receive an offer of R1m. The first and second place prizes include acceleration based in Silicon Valley, Budapest or Lagos. Finalists will pitch their businesses in front of an esteemed panel of judges on the final day of the SA Innovation Summit.

A new feature for this year is the partnership between the SA Innovation Summit and the Unicorn Group, a pan-African investment company targeting innovative ideas, start-ups and early stage companies in tech and tech-enabled sectors. The Unicorn Group is also proudly sponsoring the prizes for this year’s Africa Cup.

Tickets for the SA Innovation Summit are available at https://bit.ly/2ZqQEoJ. 


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