Category Archives: Small Grid

Africa Net Zero: Wolfram Schmidt

Did you know that cement production is responsible for 8 – 12% of the world’s CO2 emissions?

In fact, if the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world with up to 2.8bn tonnes.

As part of our #AfricaNetZero series, we spoke to @Wolfram Schmidt 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.

Thank you, Wolfram, for sharing your insights with us!

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.

VIDEO: How being a B Corp helps with governance

How does being a B Corp help your business excel at governance? In this short video, Gong Director Nikki Francis-Jones outlines three key areas that can help you build #BetterBusiness along with the rest of the B Corp community.

Video text for accessibility:

It’s B Corp month and we’re focused on building better business along with the rest of the B Corp community. Governance is a key measure for certification and for demonstrating your business’ impact on society. So here are three reasons why becoming a B Corp helps your business excel at governance.

  1. Held accountable: Each year, B Corps produce annual reports and these act as a public record of the impact they make on society. This means we are all held accountable not only to set business goals – for example around board diversity – but also for achieving them.
  2. Clear, communicable mission: Being an impact-driven business means that you have to communicate your brand values and goals. So having a clear communications strategy is critical to ensuring that those goals are achievable and focused. It also means that your staff are engaged and that you are able to be firm about the work that you undertake. For example, we can’t in good conscience work for big carbon emitting organisations that are not committed to a Net Zero future. This is important to everyone at Gong.
  3. Whole team engagement: Being a B Corp means that we are transparent about all areas of our business, with all of our employees. Regular finance catch ups ensure that the team sees how their work directly impacts on the business – but also increases general financial literacy and encourages a meritocratic environment.

To find out more, head to our website for more tips and insights on the benefits of becoming a B Corp.

Positive impact stories: B Corp month

This week, as part of B Corp month, we are charged with telling a positive impact story from among our network.

One of our favourites is from our partner, the African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC). This wonderful collection of business accelerators supports local entrepreneurs to drive job growth across Africa. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Collective has been disbursing business resilience grants from a special relief fund (established with help from the Mastercard Foundation) to support entrepreneurial refugees in a Rwandan camp. This is in addition to the business training and financial support that they provide in the normal course of events.

We were lucky enough to be able to support the AEC in communicating some of the refugees’ stories – including that of Karasira Mboniga, who runs a food and money transfer business – as part of our corporate CSR work. Most notably, they were covered in The Economist in a feature entitled, “The world’s toughest business school – the challenges of being an entrepreneur in a refugee camp”, which you can read here. The grants provided by the AEC proved a lifeline for the entrepreneurs who needed to support their families during this pandemic, whilst also avoiding debt and maintaining stock for customers when supply chains suffered.

The fund has already helped almost 4,000 entrepreneurs; 91% of the businesses that were closed have since reopened. On average, the ventures have managed to increase their staff by a third within a month of receiving a grant. Now there’s a positive impact story.

As a proud member of the #BCorp movement, we support #BetterBusiness, believing that it is vital to use business as a force for good. With other B Corps like us, we aim to create an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.  What’s your positive impact story?

Female Leadership – insights on International Women’s Day

One of the good things about celebration days in the international calendar, is that they give us the excuse to pause and think about important issues amidst the rush and clamour of busy schedules. Female leadership is still a big issue, particularly for those who subscribe to the belief that diversity in leadership enables better decision making – at a time when our business leaders are taking on so much responsibility for the wellbeing of society and the environment, alongside their usual stakeholders.

In the FTSE, where many international companies choose to list, The Hampton Alexander Review’s final report into female leadership was published on 24 February. Amidst the positive increase in the number of women overall in the last decade, it was noted that we need more women in executive positions to see sustained growth at the Board level. As we work towards gender parity and a more prosperous and sustainable world (SDG 5), International Women’s Day – this year themed #ChooseToChallenge – offers an opportunity to showcase our top picks of outstanding examples of female leadership, and how they stand out for challenging the status quo.

Here are ours – who would you add to the list?

Mayyada Abu Jaber, renowned female activist

Attendees at DiveIn’s festival in Amman in 2018 were treated to a speech by Mayyada Abu-Jaber, the renowned female activist and inspirational leader who discussed her lifetime dedication to female empowerment.  As a Brookings Institution Global Scholar for Leaders in Girls Education, Ms Abu Jaber conducted research to evaluate gender bias in the national Jordanian curriculum. Armed with evidence of inequality, she founded JoWomenomics as an independent non-profit organization to foster mindset change towards greater women’s economic participation. This in turn influences labour law policies and provides job opportunities to more than 600 marginalized female communities in Jordan. In recognition of her #ChoicetoChallenge, she has been recognized by the World Bank as an inspirational leader in the Middle East and North Africa, among many more accolades.

Marianne Tikannen and Elba Horta, co-founders of Puro.earth

With backgrounds in engineering and geosciences, these two outstanding female founders of the world’s first marketplace for selling ‘carbon removal’, are united in their ambitions for protecting the planet. Unafraid to challenge traditional methods, the two entrepreneurs forged new career paths in their pursuit of sustainability, as outlined in this Forbes article. As Ms Tikannen reportedly says, “It’s really important to move from words to action… we only have one climate.”

Rashmy Chatterjee, CEO of ISTARI

Rashmy Chatterjee has made a habit of #ChoosingtoChallenge. As the first female engineer to join the Indian Navy, she was commended by the President of India for her work. After two decades at IBM, she is now the CEO of Istari – the global cybersecurity platform established by Temasek to help clients increase their cyber resilience, earn digital trust and secure their business growth in this time of rapid digital transformation. As an advocate for women in technology, Mrs Chatterjee is a prime candidate for mention on this International Women’s Day.

Elizabeth Wangeci Chege, CEO and co-founder, WEB Limited Group

Frequent viewers of our blog and video content will know about Elizabeth Chege – a true pioneer in the sustainable construction sector in Kenya and green building throughout Africa. In our #AfricaNetZero interview series, Ms Chege speaks openly about her initial decisions to focus not on box-ticking and meeting building standards, but in putting sustainability first in the construction sector. Coining herself as a ‘sustainable engineer’, she was told by her professors that “we’re not sure anything like that exists” – a true example of a #ChoosetoChallenge female leader.

Charlotte Boaitey-Kwarteng, Barrister

In 2018, Charlotte Boaitey-Kwarteng was recognised by the prestigious GUBA awards for work in criminal and human rights law. Speaking of her Professional of the Year award win, Mrs Boaitey-Kwarteng told of her bold decision (having come to the UK from Ghana) to “run her own Chambers in the middle of Lincoln’s Inn surrounded by a sea of all-white Chambers.” She is an exemplar of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Ms Ardern responded to the Covid-19 crisis with the strictest regulations in the world, closing New Zealand’s borders with the response that she would “make no apologies” for doing so, while other countries remained open. Her choice to challenge the practice of other nations was made from listening to scientific expertise, and her accomplishment was in uniting her country through communication and strong leadership. She had the self-confidence to stand by her conviction to act quickly and maintain her stance. Her success? A record-breaking victory resulting in re-election.

Africa Net Zero: Elizabeth Chege

To kick off Gong’s new #AfricaNetZero series, we talked to Elizabeth Wangeci Chege @Betz99Kesh CEO and Co-founder, @WEBLimitedGroup who was recently honored by @WorldGBC in recognition of her 20-year commitment to green building in Africa and her pioneering work in the sustainable construction sector in Kenya. 

Following World Green Building Week 2020, we caught up with Elizabeth to hear her thoughts on green building in Africa and the Africa net zero conversation. We talked about the influence of Covid-19 on future green building, diversity in the sustainable construction sector, regulation and financing and public vs private net zero commitments. 

Thank you, Elizabeth Wangeci Chege, for sharing your views with us!  

EVENTS

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