All posts by sarahcaddy

Gong named among winners of 2021 Africa SABRE Awards

Gong was delighted to be named among the winners of the 2021 Africa SABRE Awards, which recognize Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation, and Engagement, during a virtual award ceremony.

Since 2015, Gong has helped to deliver the Dive In Festival , the insurance industry’s festival for diversity and inclusion, which was celebrated in a record-breaking 35 countries last year.

As the effects of the festival continue to be felt around the world, Gong was named the winner of two categories (Research and Planning and Public Education) and also received a certificate of excellence (in the Financial and Professional Services category) in the awards ceremony (which is run by PRovoke Media) for its work in delivering this iconic festival in Nigeria, alongside its African partners Phyllion & Partners Limited, Aon and Lloyd’s.

To learn more about the Dive In Festival – which will run this year from 21 – 23 September – please see www.diveinfestival.com.

Gong signs up to Green Pensions Charter

Today marks the launch of the Green Pensions Charter, led by Make My Money Matter in partnership with Count Us In. It’s a world first for pensions, uniting 50+ employers – Gong included – in a mission to “make our money matter”.

The Green Pension Charter seeks to ensure that all money invested by company pension schemes helps to tackle the climate crisis – an issue close to all of our hearts at Gong.

As organisations are increasingly supporting net zero strategies and making critical strides on sustainability, pensions are often overlooked. As a result, the £20 billion invested annually through company pension schemes continues to fund tobacco, fossil fuels and deforestation. The Green Pensions Charter seeks to bring an end to that.

To find out more, read the Make My Money Matter blog, and sign up your company to the Green Pensions Charter today.

Sara Firouzyar

Q&A with Sara Firouzyar, who joined Gong as a Senior Account Executive and an early hire in the finance team, working predominantly on private equity clients. Sara progressed to Account Director before leaving to live and work in South Africa for just over a year. Returning to the UK, Sara rejoined Gong as financial services lead. She finally left the agency in 2020 to join CDP – a not-for-profit that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts – as Global Comms lead for the Capital Markets Team.

How did we first meet you?

I had been working at Maitland but was looking for a new role and was introduced to Gong by a recruitment agent. I knew immediately during the interview process that Gong was somewhere that I would be able to make a difference. I loved the team, and at that time, the agency was small enough (I was the fifth or sixth hire) that I knew I would be given significant client exposure and responsibility.

What was it about Gong that appealed?

Beyond my colleagues – who are all lovely – I was attracted by the clients. They were predominantly emerging markets focused, with a strong narrative around the transformative power of capital. I trained in corporate law but have always been drawn towards companies that make a positive impact on society, so communicating these stories within the private equity sector sat very nicely within my skillset. I was pleased to be able to bring my legal knowledge to our professional services clients too, which included law firms among them.

What were your highlights from working at Gong?

How long have you got? I loved the team – even as the agency grew, the supportive culture has never changed. Everyone is approachable and it is a very collaborative environment. Despite the various client team focuses, there are no silos or obviously-felt hierarchy. I think this stems from the agency ethos of supporting clients that want to communicate their positive impact on society. It is an ethos that runs to the core of Gong and all of the (very diverse) team that works there, meaning that everyone is pursuing a common goal.

Another huge highlight of working at Gong for me was the opportunity to travel, particularly to Africa. Working with clients and journalists on the ground in other countries gave me a new perspective to communications that I wouldn’t have had in another agency.

Also I think Gong’s flexible working policy was a huge boon. We were well ahead of the curve in pursuing this and it’s still a highlight for colleagues today. That and the corporate benefit of finishing work early on Fridays in the summer!

How did working at Gong help to hone your career interests?

Certainly it cemented my belief in the positive outcomes of capital flows when invested responsibly. And without doubt Gong’s sustainability focus had an impact on my choice to extend my career within the environment sector, and ultimately in the capital markets team at CDP.

What does your role look like now?

I work for the gold standard in global environmental disclosure systems, which pioneered using the influence of capital markets to drive corporate environmental transparency and action. It’s a fascinating area, especially as we see increasing corporate commitments to reduce carbon emissions and pursuit of net zero. We are all aware that climate change presents significant risk to the economy – so much so that last year, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make climate risk assessments mandatory, in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), for large swathes of the economy by 2025. I’m pleased to be working for an organisation that supports capital markets actors to understand and manage their own climate-related risks and impact, engage meaningfully with their portfolios and make more informed financial decisions. Not only will this help with meeting net zero goals but ultimately move towards a more sustainable future that works for people and planet.

At CDP, I am responsible for designing and delivering the comms strategy for the capital markets team with the objective of mobilising investors and financial institutions to enable transition to a net zero economy. No day is the same, but I’m used to that after working at Gong!

Sara Firouzyar is Global Communications Lead for the Capital Markets team at CDP, a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. CDP is backed by over 590 investors globally with over $110 trillion in assets.

The economic potential of Nature-based Solutions

Vinesh Parmar, Account Executive

While the world continues to struggle with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, climate change issues remain critically important. Protecting and restoring nature are key to tackling climate change, yet taking stock of the impact of human-inflicted damage on biodiversity reveals an array of frightening statistics: an average of 60% of vertebrates have been lost since 1970, 75% of the earth’s land surface has been significantly altered by human action and two thirds of the ocean is reeling from human interference. Deforestation has caused the loss of a third of our forests and with it the earth’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide.

‘Building Back Better’ with Nature-based Solutions

There is increasing momentum to use the global recovery from Covid-19 to support climate change mitigation. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said, “We have a responsibility to recover better” than after the 2008 global financial crisis. Nature-based Solutions (NbS), – defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits” – offer an opportunity to avoid accelerated deforestation and biodiversity loss in short-term recovery plans.

Nature-based Solutions can include:

Protecting and growing these natural solutions could provide 37% of the cost-effective CO2 mitigation we require to keep global warming under 2°C over the next decade. But crucially they could also minimize the social and economic impact of Covid-19 by creating employment and economic opportunities.

Profiling Nature-based Solutions

Green shoots of optimism are sprouting with the help of innovation. The Mesoamerican reef in the Yucatan Peninsula, the largest coral reef in the western hemisphere, is an important attraction to driving the USD9bn tourism economy in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Of equal significance is its role in absorbing wave energy, which protects beachfront settlements. Global Parametrics led the renewal of the landmark Mexican Reef Protection Program – a USD1.9m parametric protection solution that enables immediate financial support to restore key parts of the reef, essential in safeguarding the livelihoods of the coastal communities and drawing in tourists, which over 150,000 jobs rely on.

Meanwhile, the Coastal Resources Group is helping countries all over the world to restore their mangroves and create carbon ‘sinks’ – for example, the world’s mangroves sequester about 24 million metric tons of carbon in soil per year – and Malawi has invested 1.5% of its domestic budget to its Youth Forest Restoration Program, employing thousands of young people to grow trees across 50,000 hectares of land (and protecting the livelihoods of its farmers).

Closer to home, the United Kingdom government announced that future flood defense efforts would focus on nature-based approaches, including grassland restoration and allowing rivers to flow more freely across the landscape.

Next steps

Nature-based solutions have a significant socio-economic role to play in a global recovery from Covid-19. A potential USD10tn in additional business revenue could be generated by moving towards a nature-positive economy and could contribute 395 million new roles to the global job market by 2030. As the world rebuilds in the wake of the pandemic, reassessing its priorities, we need not look beyond what’s already around us to catalyse this transition. Instead, we need to invest in decisions that move us towards a sustainable, nature-friendly approach to economic growth and development.

 

 

Showcasing sustainability around the world

President Biden’s virtual Climate Summit this week has seen important international negotiations on climate and sustainability, and the year ahead promises yet more. Although rescheduled once because of the Covid 19 pandemic, the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 is due to be held in Glasgow in November, with international leaders coming together to add detail to their pledges.

Arguably, rescheduling last year’s event may not have been a bad thing. As a result of the pandemic, we learnt the positive power of cutting emissions (albeit imposed on us) – with the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War II according to one study – not to mention our capability in responding to existential threats. Meanwhile, the past year has seen some of the strongest climate commitments ever made by governments and business leaders – the EU Green Deal, a greener-than-expected Brexit deal, net-zero pledges by China, South Korea and Japan, Joe Biden’s election as US President, rejoining of the Paris Agreement and hosting of this week’s virtual Climate Summit, which has seen yet more ambitious pledges from international leaders. Climate action is becoming institutionalised.

We all wait in hope that November will bring further ambitious international carbon pledges, and more importantly, the necessary action to complete them. The narrative for COP26 includes the assertion that ‘each of us has a part to play’ and in the run up to the summit, the conversation is mounting around how businesses, society groups, schools and individuals are taking action to tackle climate change and encourage sustainability – working #TogetherForOurPlanet.

A cursory glance at some of the sustainability stories around the globe shows that this can mean different things in different regions, but all are making strides towards a better future. Here are some of those stories we find most inspirational:

The importance of carbon removal in reaching Net Zero

The growth in net zero pledges over the last year – including asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard in March 2021 – has created unprecedented interest in carbon removal strategies and carbon markets. And rightly so. This article by our Finland-based client Puro.earth explains the difference between carbon offsetting and carbon removal, and why the latter is so integral to reaching our net zero targets. Microsoft is on board – it has pledged to be carbon negative by 2030, partnering with Climeworks and Puro.earth (including using the latter’s suppliers Carbofex, ECHO2 and Carbon Cycle to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through production of biochar, allowing carbon to be stored in soil for centuries) to reach its goal.

Powering-up for a greener, brighter future

The European Union has committed 550 billion euros to climate protection and clean technologies over the next seven years, and these plans hinge on batteries to store renewable energy and to power electric vehicles. Analysts say the next generation of batteries must last longer, charge faster and be safer and greener than those on the market now, allowing for innovation. International technology firm Systems Sunlight, has announced a new R&D centre, at which the company will develop innovative lithium battery technologies for the industrial energy storage sector, focusing on new technologies that will usher in a clean energy future.

Chilling out for a cooler climate

Unreasonable Group-backed company Sure Chill has developed a unique cooling technology that allows cooling equipment to maintain a constant temperature without constant power. Rather like a rechargeable battery, the tech is entirely natural and can be linked with solar – perfect for areas of the world with intermittent power. Sure Chill is also working with some of the world’s largest brands to develop solutions within home refrigeration, food and drink, and logistics —all of which contributed to the government of Dubai’s decision to choose Sure Chill as “one of the technologies most likely to change the world in the next 20 years”.

Protecting East African heritage against the threat of climate change

Established in 2016, the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, offers financial backing for projects that tackle the threat from climate change to cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In November last year, the Fund awarded five global heritage projects including the development of disaster risk management strategies for preserving Kenyan and Tanzanian coastal heritage at risk due to rising sea levels, and protection against the impact of flood threats to communities and monuments in Uganda.

Constructing a more sustainable future

With cement production responsible for 8 - 12% of the world’s CO2 emissions, the race is on to find a sustainable alternative for the construction industry. As part of our African Net Zero series, we spoke to Wolfram Schmidt from Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) about his research into alternative materials like cassava and other agricultural residues as a source of ‘green’ African-made cement for future sustainable construction on the Continent. You can watch the full video here.

 

 

DPO Group

COMMUNICATIONS SUPPORT FOR AFRICAN DIGITAL PAYMENTS COMPANY

DPO Group has developed the technology to allow businesses across Africa to process payments, on and offline. Headquartered in Kenya and with presence in 19​ African countries, DPO works with businesses of all sizes, supporting the growth of small local businesses, as well as working with large corporations, such as Uber, Booking.com and DHL. ​

Gong was tasked with supporting DPO in developing its corporate profile and raising awareness of its suite of products to businesses locally, regionally and internationally, with coverage secured in Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, the UK, the US, China and France, amongst others. ​

In August 2020, Gong supported DPO Group in the announcement of its planned acquisition by Network International, in what is a landmark deal for the African payments landscape and one of the largest exits in Africa’s tech sector. ​

With a modest investment we are delivering outsized results, securing x50 pieces of coverage of DPO’s acquisition alone, including in top tier international titles such as Forbes and Quartz. The estimated reach of this single announcement was over 1.5bn readers.

DoctorLink

COMMUNICATIONS SUPPORT FOR LAUNCH OF DIGITAL HEALTH COMPANY

Gong was retained to develop a communications strategy to launch digital triage provider DoctorLink, encouraging uptake by GP surgeries, changing public perception and behaviour around booking GP appointments, and building a corporate brand to support future products and long term business goals.

We began by conducting extensive stakeholder and market research which informed a brand strategy workshop, during which we analysed corporate brand attributes and differentiators and defined the company vision, mission, values and core market positioning.

We took a multi-channel approach to achieve DoctorLink’s core communications goals, including media relations, social media, industry event debates, thought leadership whitepaper research, case studies, working with medical professional champions and influencers, video, and design collateral including infographics.

The product launch was a huge success, with extensive coverage of the white paper research in industry publications, as well as expert opinions published in the national papers. The research was turned into a TED-style talk and used as the basis for speaking engagements at key NHS conferences.  Following the launch, we continued to build DoctorLink’s B2B profile alongside a consumer awareness of the product through ongoing media and marketing activity.

In December 2020, DoctorLink was acquired by digital health company HealthHero, having seen a 250% increase in its active user base and 900% growth in video consultations over the nine months prior to acquisition. During this timeframe, the number of GP clinics using the DoctorLink platform had tripled and it reported ten times revenue growth in 2020, making it one of the largest telehealth companies in Europe.

City Am coverage for DoctorLink

African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM)

CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS FOR AFRICAN PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTMENT MANAGER

African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), one of Africa’s leading private equity investment managers dedicated to African infrastructure, has been a retained client of Gong’s since 2016.

Our corporate comms brief with AIIM focuses on talking about its extensive infrastructure experience in targeted press, concentrating on positioning AIIM as one of the leading renewable energy investors on the continent.

Activities also included announcing deal news, drafting LinkedIn content and carefully targeted op-ed writing on issues such as: outlook for renewable energy in Africa, reform priorities in Nigeria’s power sector, the role of the private sector in plugging the infrastructure spending gap, and the importance of renewables in a greener recovery post-Covid.

Coverage has been achieved in international titles such as Financial Times and Bloomberg, energy trade publications such as Energy Voice, Renewable Energy Magazine and Power magazine, as well several target investment publications. Potential readership of Gong’s media coverage reaches an average of 55 million people each month.

Our work with AIIM resulted in Gong winning the global corporate communications brief for AIIM’s holding company, Old Mutual Alternative Investments.

 

Coverage for AIIM private equity

InspiraFarms

EVENT HOSTING: IMPROVING THE FIRST MILE OF FOOD DISTRIBUTION

Fellow B Corp InspiraFarms provides on and off-grid refrigeration units to farmers in developing countries. We worked together to host its first ‘Future of Fresh’ event in London. The evening was a discussion of the challenges around the first mile of food distribution and how companies like InspiraFarms help farmers earn more for their produce while expanding their access to export markets in the UK and beyond.

The event saw speeches from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Shell Foundation, who have partnered with InspiraFarms to conduct research on finding solutions to post-harvest food losses and conduct other field trials. InspiraFarms also debuted a mini-documentary highlighting their products at work and the farmers who use them to store their crops. It was a huge success with positive feedback from a mix of attendees from government bodies, universities and notable trade media, including The Grocer and AgriInvestor.

Building a fairer, healthier world

With the current average global population increase estimated at 81 million people per year, enabling access to healthcare continues to be a priority. One of the key strategies is obviously to train more doctors and nurses, but a surprisingly overlooked – yet crucial – factor lies in technology businesses that are enabling healthcare providers to reach people more effectively by increasing efficiency. The onslaught of Covid-19 has brought the necessity for a robust health tech industry into sharp relief – it has been vital as the world has had to rethink how it enables access to, and delivery of, an efficient healthcare system during a pandemic.

As a result, capital for African health tech startups has increased by 257.5% from 2019 to 2020, according to a report by Disrupt Africa. One company that had already been making headway before the pandemic is African digital health company Helium Health, which initially set out in 2016 to transform hospitals on the continent by improving how records are kept and operations managed. Backed by international investors including Y Combinator and Zenith, the company has developed cutting-edge technology specifically designed for healthcare providers in Africa to accelerate efficiencies in health systems. By providing a robust electronic health record and hospital management system (as an alternative to typical paper-based systems), Helium Health enables African healthcare facilities to reduce waste, improve their accounting and record keeping, build medical intelligence and become more efficient caregiving operations.

In the UK, Visionable has been transforming healthcare by significantly improving patient outcomes using technology. Visionable’s Connected Ambulances allow paramedics to link up digitally with specialists so that they can deliver rapid stroke diagnoses before patients reach A&E. These vitally swift judgements mean that patients spend less time in hospital and have faster recovery times, with fewer long-lasting health effects. Using Visionable, the duration of hospital stays is cut from 17 days to two days. You can read more in this article from the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, Boston-USA based telehealth start up Patient Discovery was in a prime position to virtually support cancer patients as Covid accelerated the adoption of telehealth. Already a trusted resource for 30 of the country’s leading hospitals, it has used its engagement platform to create the best remote appointment and care experience for cancer patients during the pandemic.

Today is World Health Day with a focus for 2021 on building a fairer, healthier world. As health tech companies continue to source ways to drive efficiencies to improve healthcare systems, we are reminded that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the fight against many preventable diseases. Simon Bland, CEO of the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) – which works with partners to accelerate progress towards disease elimination – reminds us in this article on Global Health Newswire that “despite its challenges, COVID-19 offers us the opportunity to think more synergistically… As past outbreaks have shown, deaths from preventable diseases increase dramatically when healthcare systems are overwhelmed and fragmented.”

How important then that – now even more so than ever – we use technology to do this and make efficient improvements within our global healthcare systems to find time and cost savings and build a healthier, fairer world for all.