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So what will you do now?

The other interesting session for me was the UNCTAD 14 parallel session on Sustainable and responsible investment at Riara University.

The thought –provoking discussions began with the School of Business Dean Prof. Abel Kinoti setting the agenda for moving from decisions to actions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Next up was Dr. Maria Alenjadra-Peres, a professor at Universidad in Colombia who spoke about moving from local to global and now a universal agenda. The SDGs are an evolution from Corporate Social Responsibility to Sustainability and from voluntary to mandatory actions by businesses. It was interesting to learn the SDGs have a history in Colombia. Paula Caballero, Senior Director, Environment, at the World Bank created the first drafts of the SDGs while Director for Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, and continued to be a key proponent and negotiator in the run-up to the adoption of the post-2015 framework in September 2015.


I had fun taking selfies with the speakers after the event.  Top right to left: Dr. Alejandra-Peres, Dr. Tomas Hult, The Gachukias,  founders of the Riara Group and Dr. Bitange Ndemo


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Climate Change, Consumers and Brands


Photo courtesy

Africa has been experiencing what could very well be termed as extreme and unprecedented weather patterns since the beginning of 2016. This is, by and large, a similar situation to many parts of the world. Recent international climate change negotiations have had one common goal: to stop global warming short of 2 degrees. If world average temperatures are allowed to increase by more than 2˚C, there is now a real and present danger that climate change will stall and then reverse the economic gains made over the past two decades. At 2 degrees Celsius of warming, low-lying island nations are expected to be under water, droughts and storms will become supercharged and a third of species may be put at risk for extinction. Not to mention the increased risk of deadly heat waves. It’s a dangerous threshold; one which world leaders agree we don’t want to cross.

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Leveraging on sustainability to create brand love


I like to start every conversation about branding with a quote by the author of the famous book, ‘How to make friends and influence people’ Dale Carnegie. He says, “when dealing with people; remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”  This is because the decisions made by consumers about brands are not rational but emotional. The question, therefore that many marketers should be concerned with today is how to create strong emotional connections that turn products into brands.

Wikipedia defines sustainability brands as products and services that are branded to signify a special added value in terms of environmental and social benefits to the customer and thus enable the differentiation from competitors. Sustainability branding emphasizes the notion of brands, which have built their brand image upon sustainable business practices that consumers’ value.

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The growing importance of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative

I caught up with His Excellency Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary General of UNCTAD last week. He is in town for the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14). The session, which takes place from 14th to 22nd July 2016 in Nairobi, will bring together Heads of State and Government, ministers and other prominent players from the business world, civil society and academia to tackle global trade and economic development issues.

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Safaricom launches Sustainable Development Goals Strategy

Last week, Safaricom launched their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) strategy in a colourful event in Nairobi. The event marked the first public commitment to the SDGs made by a company in Kenya since they were launched last year. In his opening remarks, Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore noted that the SDGs usher in a new era of sustainability. He therefore urged companies in Kenya to get ready to take on the SDGs agenda as these goals provide a platform to pursue new opportunities for business. To do this, companies must challenge their current practices and address poverty, inequality and environmental challenges. The SDGs make good business sense. Businesses cannot be successful when the society around them fails. They need to look at the future and develop products and services now that will help to tackle future challenges. Global Compact has developed guides to support businesses in aligning strategies with the SDGs.

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Promoting Sustainability to Africa’s Middle-Class


I recently attended the inaugural Sustainable Brands Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.  Sustainable Brands is a global community of business innovators who are shaping the future of business worldwide.  The community hosts several events in different locations all over the world every year and it is exciting that this wonderful think-tank is finally in Africa.

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Highlights from Sustainable Brands Africa Conference 2016

Cape Town’s Sustainable Brands 2016 event was the first of its kind in Africa.  Hundreds of thought leaders, brand innovators, designers, and global business leaders gathered to explore various topics and issues pertinent to sustainability.   Brands such as Procter and Gamble, Nedbank, SAB Miller and BASF were represented at the event which also had a host of impressive speakers.

There were Kevin James and Lise Pretorius from GCX Africa who believe that the only way to solve the many problems that our current sustainability conundrum presents, is to connect the dots between stakeholders, their activities and the various systems within which they all interact. Kim Clayton and Kate Hawke from Within People gave a workshop presentation on finding your purpose. Thomas Kolster author of the book, The Bible of Goodvertising gave an impressive workshop presentation alongside Mark Aink, a brand activist whose dream is to help brands that add real value such as Apple, Nike, Heineken and Microsoft among others.  There was also Dr. Sirikul from Thailand who gave a fascinating presentation on the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which has its roots in Buddhism.  These were just but a few of the many interesting speakers and conversations that happened over the 4 days of the conference.

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The Rising Significance of the Sustainable Energy Brand


2015 was the target year for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Energy is a dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is leading the ’Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative to ensure universal access to modern energy services, improve efficiency and increase use of renewable sources.

The SDGs goal number seven is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by, among others, facilitating access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology and promoting investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.

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Sustainability Marketing: From Brand Image to Brand Substance

Nairobi Java House recently rebranded. The coffee chain, which has 36 coffee houses and restaurants, is now spotting a new logo. In an interview with Reuters, Kevin Ashley, who founded Java’s first outlet in Nairobi in 1999, said the company is looking to expand to Kigali, Dar-es-Salaam, Lagos, Accra and Lusaka. For now, the firm’s only outlets beyond Kenya are in Uganda’s capital Kampala. As Java looks to occupy a bigger share of the market under a new brand image, perhaps it is also time for the coffee chain to take a closer look at its brand’s purpose… Continue reading “Sustainability Marketing: From Brand Image to Brand Substance”

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Understanding Sustainability and Marketing

In the twentieth century, marketing became a new driver of change in society. Beyond the awareness that the products we consume are marketed to us; we should also be aware that marketing processes also determine the political leaders we choose, where we invest our savings, where we go to learn, whether we take care of our own health or support a range of social initiatives. At the same time, fairly traded products have been one of the great recent success stories in marketing. The term fair trade was created in 1985 by author Michael Barratt Brown. Fair Trade organizations moved away from selling handicrafts to focus on agricultural commodities and the difference that fair prices could make on the producer communities. The success of Fair Trade companies over the last 2 decades has partly been driven by the increasing sophistication of their marketing which instead of appealing just to consumers’ ethical values, sought to compete against mainstream competitors in terms of product quality, pricing and packaging.

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