Look after your employees and they will look after your reputation

Employees play an important role in building the reputation of any organisation. Their sentiment towards the company is what they will be communicating to their nearest and dearest. This is important to consider as friends and family will have a perception of the company which is based on what employees say, rather than what a fancy advertising campaign might say. Reputation Matters, a proudly African research company specialising in reputation research, has developed its Organisational Climate Survey (OCS) research model to assess what exactly contributes to employee morale, productivity, employee motivation and behaviour, and job satisfaction. These are all crucial elements when it comes to an organisation’s reputation.  By looking after your employees, you are looking after your reputation.

“We have developed our OCS based on our reputation management model, the Repudometer® to extend our reputation research scope. Employees play such a big role in driving companies’ reputations, it is therefore important to understand the collective perception of employees: what influences their motivation and behaviour; what are their operational needs and communication preferences; and how do they perceive their roles in relation to the organisation’s vision and roadmap?” says Chris Bischoff, Research Analyst at Reputation Matters. Organisational climate has a more in-depth focus on how the organisation is experienced by employees on a daily basis. It should however, not be confused with organisational culture, which relates to the “why” things happen.

Nowadays an average workforce consists of three generations, namely Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials; each of which have different communication preferences. Reputation Matters’ OCS model helps to gain greater insight into the different generations to increase engagement amongst all employees through their preferred channels of communication. This helps improve and build stronger relationships with employees.

“The climate of your organisation also has an impact on the calibre of new recruits that you attract. So it is important to have the foundation in place so that you attract the right people,” says Bischoff. “A healthy organisational climate will also positively contribute to employee retention.”

An organisation’s leadership team plays an important role in establishing the climate. The leadership team will bring certain values, goals and structures to the table and this has a great influence on the overall organisational climate and how employees interact with each other. “As a person in a leadership position, you need to realise that your employees are your company’s most valuable resource; look after them, help them to grow in their position, in turn they will contribute to overall company growth,” says Bischoff.

By having a positive organisational climate, companies will see better performance and functioning of the business. Employee motivation and job satisfaction is also impacted, which ultimately contributes to the business’ bottom line.

Reputation Matters is hosting a reputation management master class in Cape Town from 12 to 16 November 2018. Join some well-established industry experts as we discuss some of the most important reputation building blocks any organisation should have in place. Click here for all the event details.


Empowering communities one computer course at a time

Graduates from the Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg communities in Hout Bay proudly pose with their Microsoft® Office Training certificates that they have received on Friday, 19 October 2018 after completing a basic computer course at the Sijonga-Phambili Community Learning Centre in, Hout Bay. The course was facilitated by accredited trainer, Life Manuwe, founder and director of Lyfe Computer Technologies.

Over the last eight weeks, 43 community members from Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg attended a basic computer skills part time course at the Sijonga-Phambili Community Learning Centre in Hout Bay.

Life Manuwe, facilitator and director of Lyfe Computer Technologies says, “There is a massive need in our communities to learn basic computer skills. The interactive computer lessons are a couple of hours a week, where we teach basic Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook skills; skills that many people take for granted. We want to help our community members to be more employable and through this we are playing our part to get people into the job market and ultimately to help with poverty alleviation.”

The course forms part of Reputation Matters’ Awesome AfriCAN initiative. It is currently in a pilot phase to work towards empowering our community members with computer skills.

“At Reputation Matters we specialise in reputation research. We often need to conduct fieldwork and depending on the research assignment, we also need to manually capture data. We saw this as a great opportunity to involve members of the communities in which we work,” says Regine le Roux, managing director of Reputation Matters.

“Many members in our communities have not had an opportunity to learn basic computer skills yet; so before we can start with data capturing, we needed to take a step back and get people trained up to be confident in front of a computer,” adds le Roux.

The Awesome AfriCAN initiative looks at empowering community members, not just in Hout Bay, but also the rest of Cape Town, the Western Cape, South Africa and even the rest of the continent! “We have an amazing continent, we need to empower our people to get into the job market, which will stimulate the economy on a micro level and ultimately, the bigger picture, to stimulate the economy across the continent. We are currently busy with a similar project in Saldanha Bay,” continues le Roux.

The next part of the computer training is to incorporate coding, as well as sessions such as job readiness sessions, for example, how to write a CV, how to prepare for a job interview, and of course data capturing. The initiative will also look at incorporating a course on entrepreneurship development, a key component to job creation in our communities.

“The course has been offered at no fee to the community members. To be able to continue with offering these classes we need funding. We are incredibly grateful for the generous sponsorships that we have received to make this pilot a reality and to train up these dedicated 43 participants,” explains Manuwe.

Le Roux adds, “We did not want to start a new non-profit organisation, there are more than enough in Hout Bay! Instead we are working with Rotary to help manage the funds we receive from sponsorship, because we know that the funds are 100% accounted for each project it is assigned to. Also, as we expand into Africa, Rotary is one of the most credible organisations with a footprint across the continent.”

Sponsoring an individual will cost R 550.00 per person for a four week course. Classes are dedicated to 15 people at a time and the classes run from 09:00 to 12:00; 13:00 to 14:00 Tuesday to Thursday.

If you would like to get involved, please contact Regine le Roux on awesome@reputationmatters.co.za | 083 302 1528 or Life Manuwe on lyfe.moyo@hotmail.com

To continue the reputation management discussion, visit www.reputationmatters.co.za. We are also on Facebook www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey


Delegates share solutions toward a zero-waste future at WasteCon 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

Delegates share solutions toward a zero-waste future at WasteCon 2018

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                     19 October 2018

Key role players in the waste and environmental management industries gathered at the Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg for the 24th biennial WasteCon conference and exhibition which took place from 15 to 19 October 2018. WasteCon is the flagship event of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), and this year speakers and delegates were encouraged to engage around the conference theme of “Implementing the Waste Hierarchy”.

“Presentations and workshops sparked numerous discussions on how we can find solutions for the waste management problems we collectively face by focussing on waste avoidance and reduction, re-use, recycling, recovery and ideally, as the last port of call the treatment and disposal of waste,” says Leon Grobbelaar, President of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA).

Some highlights from the event include:

Connecting the Waste Hierarchy and a Circular Economy

In his keynote address Doctor Ad Lansink, the Dutch founder of the Ladder of Lansink, suggested that a fundamental requirement in the roadmap to a Circular Economy is to be risk averse, seeing that we face so many environmental risks globally. Some of the most impeding risks being population growth, raw material scarcity, and political and economic stability. According to Dr Lansink some of the key challenges to implementing the Waste Hierarchy and transitioning to a Circular Economy are:

  • Closing loops in several sectors and on various levels of the waste management industry.
  • Developing new technologies.
  • Creating shared financial and behavioural values and principles.
  • Establishing shared responsibility between producers, consumers, and government.
  • Creating extended (specifically global) support.
  • Decoupling the economy from the environment.
  • A firm transition towards renewable energy.

“A transition to a Circular Economy can reduce emissions by 56% by 2050,” explained Dr Lansink.

Waste: The Ugly Reality Facing Africa

“Standing in front of you today, I realise that my first professional presentation was on the WasteCon podium 20 years ago. This led me to ponder whether the waste management industry has changed, or whether we are still stuck in old ways of thinking and implementation when it comes to waste management practices in southern Africa and the rest of our continent,” said Professor Linda Godfrey, Manager of the Waste Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap’s Implementation Unit of the Department of Science and Technology. “How do we fast track the change to a Circular Economy?”

Prof Godfrey was part of the research and development of the Africa Waste Management Outlook (AWMO) conducted under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC), and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The report was published on World Environment Day on 05 June 2018, and the initial need for such a report to be conducted on the African continent arose from the lack of waste management data that can be scaled down to a regional level. The AWMO report addresses:

  • Where are we, as Africans, in terms of waste management?
  • What are the governance issues?
  • What are the impacts of waste on the continent?
  • Possible tailor-made opportunities and solutions to move from our current state to the desired state of waste management in Africa.

“Some of our findings point to challenges such as the existence of inadequate measures to manage new and changing waste streams, and inadequate transport infrastructure which has a huge impact on the quality of food by the time it reaches the end consumer,” she explained. “In response to these challenges we often see a “knee-jerk” reaction to ban products due to these and other challenges, rather than implementing measures to address the challenges. As an example, we see Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and containers being banned which, in the context of freshwater security across the African continent, can have detrimental impacts on communities,” she continued. Prof Godfrey further suggested that the sad reality is that “many African dumpsites are filled with reusable materials and no plan for diversion because of a lack of the will to do so.”

She reiterated that by no means is the African picture all “doom and gloom”, as she highlighted many wonderful examples from Africa and southern Africa which showcase the inherent entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of our continent’s people. Among these examples are the We Cycles project which originated in Nigeria; and the Rethaka Foundations’ Repurpose Schoolbag Initiative, Bio2Watt, and Agri Protein, which are three South African based projects. Ultimately, waste management solutions that are relevant and sustainable within the African context will be key to realising the vision of a Circular Economy on our continent.

A Namibian Case Study

Gys Louw, CEO of the Namibian recycler and waste management company Rent-A-Drum, is one of the current pioneers of zero waste to landfill and shared with delegates an impressive video showcasing Namibia’s first Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) facility. It is projected that this facility will provide up to 12 000 tonnes of RDF annually for use in manufacturing processes at Ohorongo Cement, one of the most modern cement plants in the world.

Walking the Talk in terms of Green Conferencing

The IWMSA is proud to share that they implemented the following initiatives to reduce WasteCon 2018’s waste footprint:

  • The use of 100% recycled paper for the conference programme.
  • Conference presentations were loaded onto a complimentary memory stick for each delegate, and sponsors and exhibitors were recognised in the conference’s unique mobile app instead of on printed paper.
  • Each delegate was supplied with their own glass water bottle that they could refill at designated water stations around the venue.
  • No conference bags were supplied, and delegates were encouraged to bring their own bag.
  • Food waste was pre-processed on site, at Emperor’s Palace, and then removed from the venue for further composting.

To bring the message that waste is in fact a resource closer to home, the leftover food from the conference was collected, measured, and shared during the closing sessions of the event. A total of 64% of the food waste generated during the conference was pre-processed and thereafter removed for composting.

The conference officially concluded with three technical tours on Friday, 19 October 2018. “We are glad that we were able to provide delegates with the opportunity to experience waste management practices in action at the Tufflex Plastic Products, Geocycle, and Mpact operational sites,” said Grobbelaar.

“We hope that the content and benchmarks shared at WasteCon 2018 will be carried forward by delegates to ensure that we win the war against waste one day at a time and secure a sustainable environment for generations to come,” he concluded.

For more information visit the WasteCon 2018 website. To find out more about the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa visit www.iwmsa.co.za. You can also follow IWMSA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/iwmsa) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/IWMSA).

 

###

Released by Reputation Matters

Media contact:

Nadia Nel

Mobile Number: 081 439 3912

nadia@reputationmatters.co.za

 

List of references:

  1. Dr Ad Lansink. 2018. [Presentation] Challenging Changes: Connecting the Waste Hierarchy and Circular Economy.
  2. Prof Linda Godfrey. 2018. [Presentation] Waste: The Ugly Reality Facing Africa.
  3. Gys Louw. 2018. [Presentation] Striving towards Zero Waste to Landfills in Namibia.
  4. Sally-Anne Käsner. 2018. [Presentation] Waste Hierarchy – Circular Economy: Design waste out?


On Ethics and Activism: South Africa’s Nene Moment

Revelations by former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on his meetings with the controversial Gupta family sparked outrage among South Africans and was met with calls for his axing. In his testimony to the Zondo Commission on State Capture, the former Minister was faced with the stark outcome of his ethical decisions. His resignation and replacement as finance minister by former South African Reserve Bank Governor, Tito Mboweni was unavoidable for a country grappling with rebuilding its reputation.

For managing director of Reputation Matters Regine le Roux, the question of ethics in leadership in any organisation boils down to the practice of instilling ethical behaviour into the DNA of an organisation. “The leadership of an organisation (or country) sets the example of how things need to be done.  When measuring corporate reputations among South Africa’s private and public organisations, we look at ten core building blocks; corporate management is one of the first elements interrogated when it comes to assessing an organisation’s reputation.”

“To rebuild the reputation of our country we need to laude President Ramaphosa for taking quick action in this matter; continuing to fight against corruption needs to remain top of his priority list as he indicated during his state of the nation address, walking his talk on this issue is crucial,” adds le Roux

The other key element that played a crucial part in this saga is strategic alliances; your reputation is impacted by the company you keep. Even though there is no evidence of any wrongdoing from the meetings conducted at the compound between Nene and the Guptas, but purely by association and lessons that we have learnt from other similar meetings, the worst case scenario is automatically assumed.

Why are reputations so important to treasure? “As a leader your organisation and in this case, country’s positive reputation has a direct impact on the bottom line and a country’s foreign investment opportunities.”

Taking a look purely at a corporate level, if your business has a positive reputation, people will want to work for you and buy your service or product. You will attract top talent, which in turn will impact the level of service or products that people will be willing to pay a premium for, so that they can be associated with your brand.

At Ethics Monitor, Managing Director Cynthia Schoeman believes we all have a built-in radar of right and wrong and has coined the term “Ethics Activism” when referring to the role organisations should play in managing ethics within a company.

Schoeman adds, “Ethics are non-negotiable. It warrants that ethics is included as an important goal that is actively managed, supported and recognised. Expecting on-going ethical conduct without such meaningful engagement with employees is frankly wishful thinking. Given the range of challenges and improper personal agendas that can arise, regular engagement is necessary to ensure employees’ understanding and to maintain their commitment to ethical practices.”

le Roux maintains that an organisation needs to be ruthless about looking after their reputation especially because of the impact it has on the health and bottom line of an organisation (or country). “Simply put, leaders set the example and values need to be non-negotiable”.

Reputation Matters is hosting a reputation management master class in Cape Town from 12 to 16 November 2018. Join our well-established industry experts as we discuss some of the most important reputation building blocks any organisation should have in place. For more information visit https://bit.ly/2O13fbB


World Mental Health Day: Eliminating the stigma around mental health issues

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 is World Mental Health Day and a chance to reflect on what mental health means to society. “One of the greatest challenges we need to address is the stigma around mental health issues,” says Shona Sturgeon, Executive Committee Member of Cape Mental Health and Past President of the World Federation for Mental Health. As a member of the Rotary Club of Claremont’s Inner Wheel, she works closely with mental health organisations in the Western Cape to help people with these illnesses.

Mental health issues include both psychiatric problems and intellectual disability. “The stigma around mental health is huge,” Sturgeon explains. “It includes the assumption that all people with mental health issues are violent and dangerous, which is absolutely not true.” The stigma also refers to the perception that people living with mental illness cannot hold down a job, can never improve, and cannot be trusted. “A factor that plays into it is that mental health issues are sometimes accompanied by ‘weird’ symptoms like tremors or sleepiness that are caused by medication, not even by the illness itself.”

The stigma hampers the ability of people living with the illness to live full lives. “These individuals say that the stigma causes more disability than the condition itself,” remarks Sturgeon. It affects the way they are treated, and their ability to get a job and accommodation. Many of them dare not tell anyone about their condition, so that mental health issues remain hidden. This results in a lack of pressure on government to ensure that they are accommodated in hospitals and the community. It also affects their self-confidence and quality of life. “Mental health service users are so often the disadvantaged of the disadvantaged,” states Sturgeon.

To overcome the stigma around mental health issues, it is necessary for people to know as much as they can about illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and to speak openly about it. “Because of the stigma, people don’t talk and because they don’t talk, the stigma remains,” Sturgeon comments. A realisation of how common mental health issues are would also help: one in four people worldwide struggle with mental illness. “Mental health issues are a lot more common than we realise, and we can address it simply by treating mental health service users as human beings, with dignity and understanding, as we would treat other people with chronic illnesses.”

Claremont Inner Wheel has engaged with and donated to Cape Mental Health for many years. They contribute to counselling initiatives, social support opportunities, education initiatives, and professional support and upskilling for health service users in Cape Town and beyond.

For more information on Rotary Club of Claremont and the various community projects and initiatives they are involved with, please visit https://www.facebook.com/RotaryClubofClaremont/.


Laughter: the secret ingredient for a better reputation?

 [Caption: Participants enjoying a Laughter Workshop session hosted by Laughter Coach, Bronwyn Kilroe]

“Everything you want is because you think you will feel happier if you had it. So why don’t you go straight to feeling happy by just laughing more because laughter instantly makes you happy.” ~ Bronwyn Kilroe

This is the lesson that Cape Town’s Laughter Coach, Bronwyn Kilroe wants participants to take away from her Laughter Workshop. Based on the concept of ‘fake it till you make it’, the Laughter Workshop encourages participants to laugh ‘without intellect’ and teaches people the skills to achieve sustained hearty laughter without involving cognitive thought.

“Laughter assists with stress management, health promotion and happiness development, enabling teams to perform at high levels, maintain their composure in a crisis and take better care of their organisation, leading to long-term business success,” says Kilroe.

A Forbes study[1] indicates that for business success, laughter is an asset with happy employees reportedly being up to 50% more productive. Regine le Roux, Managing Director at Reputation Matters notes, “an organisation’s productivity and employee engagement are dimensions that we take into consideration when measuring an organisation’s reputation. Both play an important role in the overall reputation of an organisation..

“A workplace that feels fun and friendly increases team morale and engagement levels and reduces absenteeism caused by illness. Finding humour in everyday situations is an excellent antidote to stress and encourages teams to work together to ultimately contribute to the bottom line and improve the company’s overall reputation,” says le Roux

Employees are the greatest contributors to a company’s reputation and Kilroe wants to help build happy and productive teams. “I want to help people find their smiles again,” adds Kilroe. The science based methodology of the Laughter Workshop empowers teams with practical stress management techniques which can be employed at work and home.

“Seeing the transformation in the business and corporate teams I work with, before and after a Laughter Workshop is pure bliss for me,” says Kilroe. “They arrive stressed, anxious, depressed and then to see their frowns turn into smiles of joy and happiness, and to hear the roars, shrieks and chuckles whilst doing some good belly laughs together is a pure delight.”

Laughter, whether real or simulated, releases endorphins and serotonin into the bloodstream and encourages ‘real laughter’, which is hard to stop once released. These happy hormones trick the body into bypassing the intellectual system, which normally acts as a barrier to genuine laughter.

“Isn’t it funny that something as simple as laughing could be the secret ingredient to take your business’ reputation to the next level, creating a win-win scenario for the company and your colleagues’ general health. You could say that with the help of Bronwyn, you could be laughing all the way to the bank!” concludes le Roux

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/12/13/promoting-employee-happiness-benefits-everyone/#59695eb5581a

 


Forward-thinking inventors recognised at the SA Innovation Summit 2018

[Caption] Allan Goldberg of Off Grid Innovations, inventor of the iHarvey “Power Anytime”, is the winner of the Inventors Garage at the 2018 SABC Education SA Innovation Summit (SAIS). He walks away with bragging rights as the best inventor from the 20 finalists that participated, and R 30 000 from Adams&Adams to assist with safeguarding his intellectual property. [Pictured above (L to R) are Steven Yeates, (Partner at Adams&Adams), alongside Carmen Hooper and Daniel Custodio from Off Grid Innovations]

iHarvey (pictured below) is a thermo-electric generator which produces power by converting heat into electricity, powering three high quality LED lamps and charging a USB device simultaneously. “With about 600 million people in Africa alone still not having access to basic electricity, there is an urgent need to offer products that re-imagine fuels in a way that is clean, safe and more efficient. We have to use what is available now, innovating existing technology to accommodate the situations and produce high quality solutions,” says Goldberg.

The runner-up in the Inventors Garage competition is Murray Bredin with the Pivot Optimiser, an internet-of-things monitoring and control system for agricultural irrigation centre pivots and pumps. It performs local control functions and transmits all measured data to a web server. In third place is Steven Blake with BioPay, a mobile application that allows customers to pay for goods and services at the vendor or online using their fingerprints, so that it is not necessary to carry cash or bank cards.

For more information on the 2018 SABC Education SA Innovation Summit, visit www.innovationsummit.co.za, email info@innovationsummit.co.za or call +27 82 708 1960.

You can follow SA Innovation Summit on Twitter (@InnovSummit) or Facebook (@SAInnovation).


Setting robust corporate foundations for a better reputation

Reputation management master class 2018

Cape Town: 12 to 16 November 2018

It is no secret that reputations can be tarnished in seconds when situations are not handled ethically and correctly. By having a proper foundation in place across all organisational dimensions will assist with making those tough business decisions that could, quite literally, make or break your company’s reputation which took years of dedication to build. Reputation Matters, a proudly African research company specialising in reputation research, will be hosting a reputation management master class at the Grand West Hotel in Cape Town from 12 to 16 November 2018, to empower delegates with the necessary tools and information to ultimately be more strategic in managing their organisations’ reputations.

Regine le Roux, Managing Director at Reputation Matters says, “We are delighted to announce that our reputation management master class will bring some well-established industry experts to Cape Town where we will tackle some of the most important reputation building blocks any organisation should have in place.”

The master class is endorsed by the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA) and delegates will receive 12 CPD points.

The programme will be presented over five days and delegates have the option to attend the full programme or individual sessions. “The master class allows for a maximum of 20 delegates as the sessions will be incredibly interactive and hands-on,” mentions le Roux.

The programme entails the following sessions:

  • Day one (12 November 2018): If you treasure it, you’ll measure it. The importance of measuring your reputation. Facilitated by Regine le Roux, Managing Director at Reputation Matters. The session will introduce delegates to the ten reputation building blocks and tips on how to take their organisation’s reputation to the next level.
  • Day two (13 November 2018): Ethics is an essential foundation for a sound reputation. Facilitated by Cynthia Schoeman, Managing Director at Ethics Monitor. This interactive session will delve into the importance of ethics and building it into the DNA of your organisation. The session will also focus on workplace ethics.
  • Day three (14 November 2018): Internal communication ~ Bringing values to life! Facilitated by Kristina Malther, Managing Director at Open Cape Town. This hands-on session will equip delegates to communicate at an optimal level internally, as well as how to identify and define corporate values that employees resonate with and that will ultimately ensure a values-driven organisational mindset.
  • Day four (15 November 2018): Writing course ~ getting your message across in writing. Facilitated by Jennigay Coetzer, freelance writer, journalist, author, editor and trainer. Written content is often the first contact point between a company and its customers, so it is vital to get it right. This session will help participants of all levels of experience to develop and hone their writing skills.
  • Day five (16 November 2018): Meet the media. The session will equip delegates on what to expect from media engagement, including how to engage with media, how to do a media interview and the dos and don’ts of media management.

The master class is not to be missed for all corporates who want to build on their corporate foundations to help their businesses thrive. “You never know when a crisis will hit, and to be proactive and prepared is the best way to turn any situation in an opportunity,” concludes le Roux.

For more details on the master class and to apply, click here.

For more information about Reputation Matters, visit www.reputationmatters.co.za or call +27 (0)11 317 3861 (Jhb) | 021 790 0208 (Cpt). Reputation Matters is also on Facebook www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey.


Voice-controlled technology for quadriplegics

[CAPTION] Residents living at Durbanville Quadriplegic Centre, like Brenton Swartz (pictured above), have a new level of autonomy thanks to state-of-the-art voice-controlled technology. Although they have little to no control over their limbs, they are now able to perform simple daily tasks using their voice to ‘wake up’ their Voice-Activated Quality of Life (VoQol) system, known as Alexa. In the past residents would need to call a carer for help; now they just ask Alexa to switch on the light, change the television channel or call for assistance.

Speaking at the official launch of the VoQol project yesterday, 19 September, Lowri Williams, Programme Manager at the QuadPara Association Western Cape (QAWC) said: “To our knowledge, this is the first installation at a residential facility in Africa. It may seem like a small thing that we take for granted, to switch off the fan when the room reaches the right temperature, but for someone who is physically disabled from the shoulders down VoQol gives them a new level of autonomy, expanding the number of daily tasks that they are able to perform on their own. The completion of such a project really demonstrates how we can assist quadriplegics and paraplegics to reach their full potential.”

Installation of the VoQol system has recently been completed at three residential facilities in Cape Town, with financial support from donors, including Rotary Club of Claremont. A total of 51 rooms were fitted with the devices at Turfhall Cheshire Home, Durbanville Quadriplegic Centre and Eric Miles Cheshire Home. The technology relies on WiFi and can be used to control the sound or channels on a TV, switch on a fan or a light, and call for assistance.

“I can get a cricket update and then 20 seconds later switch back to what I was watching before, which sounds insignificant, but it makes a big difference in my life,” says Anthony Ghillino, General Manager of QAWC who is a C4 quadriplegic (paralysed from the shoulders down).

Another resident, Graham Clarke suffers from locked-in syndrome as a result of a stroke. Talking about the new technology he says: “I love my independence and the [VoQol system] does just that. I can control several devices that have been connected. It is very empowering.”

Speaking at the launch event Malcolm Dodd, President of the Rotary Club of Claremont says, “It is heart-warming to see the effect that this technology has had on the residents here and at the other two facilities. Not only does it really empower them with the ability to control things on their own, it also alleviates the burdens placed on their carers to continuously help them with simple tasks throughout the day. This is the kind of life-changing technology that can improve quality of life.”

With the first phase of the project completed successfully, QAWC are seeking funding to install more devices at Eric Miles Cheshire Home where 32 residents do not have access to the technology yet. For more information, visit http://qawc.org/projects-and-services/voqol-project/.

For more information on Rotary Club of Claremont and the various community projects and initiatives they are involved with, please visit https://www.facebook.com/RotaryClubofClaremont/.


Big business: Are we venturing enough?

“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.” ~ James Cash Penney

Steve Meller and Will Searle, international experts in blue chip venturing, will present master classes on corporate venturing at the SA Innovation Summit, taking place from 12 to 14 September 2018. They outline their views on whether South Africa’s big business sector is venturing enough.

Business, whether big or small, is under constant pressure to keep innovating and growing. The challenges for corporates in this regard are, however, markedly different from those of a small enterprise. “Their large size means they have all sorts of process controls in place that make it difficult to move at a fast-enough pace to match the rate of innovation outside the company,” says Dr Steve Meller, Managing Director at Creating Dots. “This is true of every single industry.”

Venturing, as applied to corporate business, is “the sharing of business opportunities, so that big corporates get the benefit of joining forces with small business,” says Will Searle, Founder of Axillium, ahead of his talk on Innovation Without Borders at the Summit next week. It is a corporate looking at investing in an independent venture to access the agile innovation happening outside the company. “Any one organisation, whether corporate or not, will have a missing piece – some technology that the market wants that the corporate doesn’t have. A smaller company is more agile and may have the technology that the corporate is looking for.” For this reason venturing is a growing trend, with approximately 1 000 venturing units in the world according to Meller.

Is corporate South Africa venturing enough?

Given the importance of venturing and the opportunities for expansion that it presents, is corporate South Africa doing so enough? Searle argues that the answer is ‘No’, and believes that South African corporates are either not venturing, or not engaging in the right type of venturing: “South African venturing is at risk of chasing technology driven outcomes rather than long term market advantage – successful venturing is patient and works toward a market opportunity rather than simply pushing a new technology.” Venturing for the sake of innovation is not the answer to growing sustainably.

Meller also says that, compared to Silicon Valley in the United States, South Africa is venturing far less: “If you are talking about the dollar value of traditional venturing investment, there is no question that the United States is the largest player in the venture game, and there is no question that Silicon Valley is the largest venturer. No other country compares to that.”

However, Meller argues that the dollar value of investment is not necessarily the only or the best measure of success in the South African context. He believes in finding ways of venturing that suit this particular market and environment. “If you are asking if South Africa is venturing enough, the answer is ‘No,’ but they don’t need to and shouldn’t try to. The best and only way for South Africa to maximise venturing is to find great opportunities for collaboration that can disproportionately leverage what they have.”

Challenges to venturing in the South African context

Some of the challenges to venturing, according to Meller, include South Africa’s geographic location, but also include an organisational mindset that hampers powerful collaborative relationships. “Corporates usually want it their way. The entrepreneur’s dilemma is that ‘I need the money, but what the corporate wants is slightly different from what this business was intended for.’ It is therefore critical to define the relationship at the outset. The thing is that the relationship can either be extremely successful or disastrous, especially for the SME who is taking the bigger risk. The lack of empathy from corporates for the SME in this regard is one of the reasons why these relationships often don’t do as well as they could or should, but it is getting better.”

Searle agrees that this is frequently a problem for big corporates who are used to throwing their weight around: “Too often the corporate mindset is one of ‘I can do it myself or I don’t need anyone else’. It may be challenging to the executive mindset, but being willing and open to look at suppliers as partners enables the venture relationship to gain mutual benefits.” The initiative to make this paradigm shift should come directly from the CEO and top leadership of a company to be successful.

Opportunities for making corporate venturing happen

There are opportunities for more venturing to take place though, should the mindset change. Searle suggests that big businesses “need to expand their ventures with new value chain models, where the value starts with a university student or a start-up and scales right into corporate. They need to look at how they can join with these young people and entrepreneurs for both parties to grow sustainably.”

Meller re-emphasises the importance of strong relationships both inside and outside of South Africa. “South Africa is not on the same level as the United States in terms of dollar value in venturing, but it is about us finding what works for us, especially by enabling relationships that will give us preferred access to what is happening in the outside world. Building relationships is not hard to do, but you have to put work and effort into it. A corporate may have a unit or department that focuses specifically on venturing and maintaining the health of those key relationships. It is a powerful tool, but the challenge is in maintaining relationships on the long term instead of expecting short term profits.”

Of course, as with small business, the right mindset and relationships are critical, but finding the funds for a corporate venture is no small feat. For this reason the SA Innovation Summit will host a CEO Lunch session introducing the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)’s New Industries Strategic Business Unit, a primary investor in Corporate Ventures that THINK BIG. Pieter de Beer, Senior Industry Development Manager at the IDC, explains: “The IDC New Industries SBU will selectively invest in the creation and/or development of Industry 4.0 technologies and business models where SA has a clear comparative advantage, and which have the potential to be enabling and/or disruptive. Typical disruptive business models have exponential scalability and value is created through an asset base in an entire relationship network, not necessarily through the business’ own assets. In alignment with the IDC’s development initiatives there will be specific focus on black industrialists, females and youth.”

To find out more about the Innovation Summit and register, visit www.innovationsummit.co.za or follow SA Innovation Summit on Twitter (@InnovSummit) or Facebook (@SAInnovation).