Category Archives: News

KINA ADVISORY CHOOSES GONG AS COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR

 

Africa-impact specialist, Kina Advisory has appointed Gong to support the growth of its brand internationally. Kina is best known for advising boards on key ESG issues affecting business and investment in Africa, which for those in the know, is the proving ground for ESG best practice. Building on decades of experience, Kina is repositioning its offering on a global footing.

Founder Rosalind Kainyah MBE is a lawyer by profession with extensive experience in government relations, political risk management, social investment and corporate and environmental law. She is also a regular on the conference circuit as an experienced moderator and Chair.

kinaadvisory.com

INVEST IN AFRICA TAPS GONG FOR SECOND TIME

 

In April, we were delighted to be invited back to work with Invest in Africa following our initial efforts to help capture the challenges SMEs faced when working with large corporations in Ghana in this report: David & Goliath: Creating a level playing fled for SMEs In the intervening time IIA has grown from an initiative with offices in London and Ghana to become pan-African with a presence in Kenya, Senegal, Mauritania, Mozambique and Zambia.

The idea for Invest in Africa grew out of the desire of a multinational corporation to use its buying power as a force for good. Despite the positive economic impact and jobs it creates, IIA is a private sector-led initiative focused on growing local businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa, albeit with a mix of donors, many in the development finance sector.

Our brief includes supporting the rollout of IIA’s Covid-19 SME toolkit and advising on some new research that will be useful for stakeholders but we’re keeping the precise details under wraps until we are ready for the big reveal. Needless to say, it’s going to focus on supply chains and positive purchasing power.

www.investinafrica.com

SYSTEMS SUNLIGHT AWARDS GLOBAL CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS BRIEF TO GONG

 

In March, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial and advanced technology batteries,  Systems Sunlight, retained Gong on a corporate comms brief. Sunlight is part of The Olympia Group, one of the largest international conglomerates in Greece.

The company recently launched a revolutionary series of “smart batteries” called Li.ON FORCE which use advanced lithium technology. Li.ON FORCE batteries cover the increasing demands of the Material Handling and Logistics Industries, along with the diversity of applications of modern electrical Industrial Vehicles (eIV).

As well as state-of-the-art battery production facilities in Xanthi, Greece, North Carolina, USA and Verona, Italy, Sunlight has a recycling facility in Komotini, Greece which is Europe’s most advanced with a recycling capacity of 25,000 tons of used lead-acid batteries.

We are looking forward to supporting Sunlight’s continued growth as it plays its part in addressing the critical global challenge of energy storage and performance.

systems-sunlight.com

INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE SEARCH FIRM GRANGER REIS SELECTS GONG

 

We were thrilled to be appointed by Granger Reis for two reasons: Human capital is a big theme for us at Gong and international boutique, Granger Reis has a global perspective on sectors that we operate in: Infrastructure, Real Estate, Construction and Mining being the main focus areas where we have track record.

The Granger Reis team have challenged us to capture and communicate the key insights and issues that drive their business to reflect their deep expertise. From diversity and inclusion to courageous leadership in times of exponential change, the issues couldn’t be more familiar or more prescient.

grangerreis.com

GONG WINS VOLANS COMMUNICATIONS BREIF

 

2020 got off to an inspiring start with an event from our new client, Volans, whose ‘Tomorrow’s Capitalism: The Inquiry’ on 10th January saw initial insights of 18 months’ research shared with an invited audience of business leaders, regulators and industry associations to explore what it means to step up as leaders in the 2020s: a period of exponential change. The inquiry launched in 2018 with John Elkington’s recall of the Triple Bottom Line. The rationale being that business and ‘sustainability’ as usual is no longer fit for purpose.

Hosted at Aviva’s conference suits in the City of London, the audience heard from Inquiry partners including The Body Shop, SEPA, Covestro, Unilever and Aviva as well as leading experts in related sectors such as supply chain and the future of food.

Volans identified three defining elements of the emerging corporate leadership agenda to help businesses become catalysts for systems change:

1: Collaborate to build ‘3R’ businesses: Businesses should be adopting the 3Rs framework: “Responsibility”, “Resilience” and “Regeneration”. These are the characteristics required to thrive in a challenging, complex commercial environment and they require significant innovation and self-disruption.

2: Change the conversation between business and finance: This is about much more than ESG scores and sustainability reporting: the task is to create deeper partnerships between corporations and investors to co-evolve a whole new approach to investment and finance that emphasises outcomes and ‘directionality’, not just growth.

3: Become a Political Activist: There is no apolitical path to a sustainable economy. Progressive corporate leaders are being called on to step forward and engage in the tricky business of influencing policy and public opinion.

Read more about Volans’ work and the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry here.

CIRCLE GAS APPOINTS GONG TO SUPPORT ON ACQUISITION ANNOUNCEMENT

 

In January, we were called on to support Circle Gas, a start-up that is revolutionising energy access for clean cooking in Africa. Circle Gas was announcing the acquisition of proprietary technology from Tanzania’s KopaGas in a transaction worth USD 25 million. The deal was the largest pure private equity investment in the clean cooking technology sector to date.

In parallel, Alok Sharma, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was in Nairobi for an event focused on investing in tech innovation and since DfID was an early supporter, Circle Gas was naturally in the media spotlight.

Circle Gas is helping to address multiple SDGs at the same times as it provides a reliable and low-cost supply of LPG fuel for clean cooking to low-income households by using innovative smart metering and advanced distribution logistics. LPG displaces the use of harmful and dirty charcoal and kerosene in the home. This reduces respiratory problems for women and children while reducing the felling of trees that would otherwise be used for firewood or to make charcoal. About 900 million people, or 70% of the population of sub Saharan Africa have not yet transitioned to clean and modern cooking fuels.

Read more about it in this Reuters feature

circlegas.co.uk

GONG WINS IFC TENDER FOR HIGH PROFILE INFRASTRUCTURE TASK

 

As 2020 began, we were delighted to learn that we’d beaten off stiff competition to a contract from the IFC (International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group), to act as strategic communications advisor for a high profile infrastructure project in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the second time we have worked with the IFC on strategic comms for an infrastructure brief in the region.

The IFC’s web site sets out its mission: A strong and engaged private sector is indispensable to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. That’s where IFC comes in—we have more than 60 years of experience in unlocking private investment, creating markets and opportunities where they’re needed most. Since 1956, IFC has leveraged $2.6 billion in capital to deliver more than $285 billion in financing for businesses in developing countries.

ifc.org

Event report: Impact investing: Ethical to the core?

EVENT REPORT: IMPACT INVESTING: ETHICAL TO THE CORE?

Sometimes it takes a mutual friend to help make a great match. As members of UKSIF and as a B Corp, we spotted the potential in getting them in a room together to talk about the challenges in the growth of sustainable investing.

A huge thank you to Billy Nauman at FT Moral Money for chairing the event and to EQ Investors for hosting in their fab offices. View the event report here.

B INSPIRED EVENT REPORT – PART ONE

The Bridge theatre on London’s Southbank played host to a 600-strong audience for B Lab UK’s first B Inspired event on Thursday 10th October. Global circumnavigator, Fergal o’Nuillian, a geography teacher and explorer, opened the event with the poignant image of the earth rising in space.  He told a story about one of his students who against the odds, passed his geography GCSE. He set the tone for the event by reflecting that like the advice to his teacher from this young man, we must all learn to practise hope on a daily basis.

Fergal didn’t come alone. Students from City Heights Academy gave voice to his assertion that it is hard to be young at the moment. At his invitation, the audience leaned in and listened closely to a young woman in her school uniform – KatiAnn Barris Rocha whose spoken word poetry blistered eloquently against the expectations society places on her generation. The audience got to its feet in appreciation of her performance.

The first panel – Challenging Business as Usual was made up of Oxford University Professor and expert on corporate purpose, Colin Mayer; Alexandra Mousavizadeh, of Tortoise Media, Sophi Tranchell, the founder of Divine Chocolate and Chair, James Perry, Cook co-founder and man who brought the B Corp movement to the UK.

Colin laid out the historical context for our current situation: Fifty years of Milton Friedman economic theory and the primacy of shareholder value creation as the legal requirement and core purpose of business. He contended that the capitalist system is not fit for our current needs and must change to generate profits only for the companies whose solutions are benefitting people and planet. He used the example of Danish pharma company Novonordisk, explain how they switched their purpose from manufacturing insulin to eliminating diabetes.

Alexandra explained the robust methodology by which her new Responsibility 100 index has been compiled. She cited 5000 data points, 52 indicators, 27 of which are directly relevant for corporations mapping progress through an SDG prism. The Index is a window into corporate rhetoric versus reality, making it easy to see who has signed up to the UN global compact for example, and then analysing any resulting actions in what she called a ‘talk versus walk’ score. She defended the Index format because it ‘creates a race to the top’  and highlights gaps in data and performance. Perhaps the most sobering observation is that it should not be hard to find evidence of corporate contribution to SDGs but it is.

Sophi Tranchell’s contribution expanded on a core theme from Colin’s observations – ownership. She reflected on 20 years of Divine Chocolate – back then a model that drew a lot of scepticism that having cocoa farmers the biggest shareholders (44%) could ever work. That ownership has been key in diversification and mitigation for climate change because the farmers are closest to the issues and empowered to make the necessary changes. Sophi spoke up for the need for patient capital, long term investors and engaged consumers. Divine certified as a B Corp in 2016.

James Perry summarised that ‘business has the wrong operating system’, reflecting on how we think about performance reporting. Tomorrow’s economic rule book needs new rules of the game. We need a legal system that recognises the role of owners (shareholders) as trustees. Change comes quickest when companies are required to report. Regulatory requirements such as publishing pay differentials or ensuring the living wage is paid all through the supply chain would be helpful.