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SA’s Lumkani fire detector gets to global Venture finals

16 start-ups from across the globe with a mission to create positive change have been announced as finalists of The Venture. The forward-thinking businesses, including Lumkani from South Africa, are competing to win a share of $1 million in funding from Chivas Regal.

After receiving over 1 000 entries from five continents, Chivas Regal has selected Lumkani as part of a diverse shortlist of 16 aspiring start-ups tackling a range of social and environmental issues. The finalists have been chosen to represent their local countries in The Venture global final, based not only on their potential to be profitable as a business, but also on their ability to offer scalable and sustainable impact solutions.

Each finalist has a truly unique story to tell about the inspiration for their startup. “The devastating shack fires that took place on New Year’s day 2013 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and displaced thousands of people was a catalyst for research and development that has brought us to create an affordable fire detection device to mitigate the loss of life and property,” said David Gluckman, co-founder of Lumkani.

“Enabling the growth of social entrepreneurs has become a key focus for Chivas Regal through The Venture campaign. We are really excited to have Lumkani representing South Africa on a global stage and we urge fellow South Africans to vote for Lumkani’s life-saving initiative,” said Paul Scanlon, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard for South Africa and Namibia.

From 11 May to 14 June, Lumkani will go head to head with the rest of the finalists in a public vote, competing for an initial share of $250 000 (from the $1 million fund). People from across the world can view the finalist profiles and vote for their favourite at The Venture.

The competition will then culminate in San Francisco on 24 July when finalists pitch for the remaining share of the $1 million fund in front of an expert global judging panel. Sonal Shah, former Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the White House under US President Barack Obama, is the latest judge to be announced alongside Adrian Grenier (actor, producer and social entrepreneur), Morgan Clendaniel (Editor of Fast Company’s Co.Exist) and Alex Ricard (Pernod Ricard Chairman and CEO).

In the week leading up to The Venture Final Pitch, the finalists will attend an Accelerator Week in Silicon Valley – the epicentre of the startup world – where they will receive mentorship from influential figures in social enterprise and companies such as Google, Duarte and IDEO.

To find out more and vote for your finalist, visit The Venture.

The Finalists

Country Company Founder(s) Overview
Brazil MGov Guilherme Finkelfarb Lichand MGov is a consulting firm that specialises in public policy management and social impact. We use mobile technology to better understand the demand for, and evaluation of, public services by speaking to those that they affect most; the people who use them.
Bulgaria Arthesis Demir Tonchev At Arthesis we create beautiful prosthetic covers for leg amputees who want to express themselves boldly and creatively. Wearing our covers makes amputees feel confident the same way as wearing stylish clothes. An Arthesis cover weighs about 250 grams, which makes it very convenient to wear.
Chile Algramo Jose Manuel Moller Affordable food is hard to come by in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile. There are few supermarkets and the produce at small stores can often be up to 40% more expensive than in larger outlets. To address this issue, we at Algramo buy essential products, such as rice, beans, lentils and sugar, in bulk from suppliers and distribute them directly to small convenience stores through our unique mechanical dispensers.
China Coolpeds Tony Chan At Coolpeds our mission is to offer an innovative, compact and eco-friendly way to travel. One that not only helps people get around efficiently, but also improves local communities by reducing pollution and congestion. So we’ve designed and manufactured the lightest electric transporters in the world. Our scooters are not only light, they’re also foldable, produce zero emission and will even charge your phone.
Columbia Diseclar Juan Nicolas Suarez Bonilla Where others see rubbish, garbage and waste, we at Diseclar see furniture. Thanks to our inventive manufacturing process, we’re able to turn waste materials into stylish furniture that can be used in- and outdoors.
Dom. Republic Conuco Solar Raul Aguayo Many people don’t have the space in their home or place of business to have their own solar panels installed. Conuco Solar will ensure that anyone can still have access to clean, renewable energy by essentially renting space at our solar farm, rather than having to set up their panels at home or their business where space may be limited.
Gulf Dumyé Sahar Wahbeh Dumyé handcrafts personalised cloth dolls and, for every doll we sell, we give one to an orphan to make their own through an art workshop. In this way, we believe we can bring love and light into the lives of both our children and those who have not been spoken for.
Hong Kong Diamond Cab Doris Leung Diamond Cab is the first ever barrier-free taxi service in Hong Kong. Our vision is to provide a safe, accessible service that makes it easy for a previously marginalised and vulnerable group of people to interact with the world, while also being a driving force to promote genuine social progress in our society.
Japan SenSprout Yoshihiro Kawahara SenSprout’s mission is to make farming more efficient, to produce more crops using less water. We help farmers better understand their crops and fields with our low-cost sensor technology. Our wireless field-monitoring system is enabled by a unique “printed electronics” sensor, making it possible to monitor soil conditions and environmental information in real time.
Mexico ¡Échale! a Tu Casa Mexico Francesco Piazzesi Lack of affordable housing is a social problem, so we’ve come up with a model that makes the community part of the solution. We aim to provide at-risk families across Mexico with ecological, affordable housing by helping them build their own.
South Africa Lumkani David Gluckman At Lumkani we use technology to decrease the risk of devastating fires in informal settlements. Our innovative fire detector was designed to mitigate the loss of life and property caused by the spread of shack fires.
Thailand Socialgiver Aliza Napartivaumnuay Socialgiver is a lifestyle website with a social twist. We offer handpicked services and experiences, such as hotel deals, gift-cards for restaurants and tickets for events from leading brands at exclusive rates. For every purchase, 70% goes directly to support social projects of the buyer’s choice and 30% helps grow the Socialgiver community.
UK Two Fingers Brewing Co. Will Waldron Two Fingers Brewing Co. is a beer brand that gives back to those that drink it by giving all our profits to Prostate Cancer UK. Using the finest handpicked ingredients, we create beer that’s not just better tasting, but better for men everywhere.
Ukraine Line 24 Ilona Kotova There are over 13 million elderly citizens in Ukraine and more than eight million people with disabilities. Some have no immediate family or their relatives live far away. Line 24 provides a 24-hour medical alarm service for these vulnerable, at-risk groups.
Uruguay Chipsafer Victoria Alonsoperez Chipsafer is a platform that will transform the way farmers care for their livestock. It not only tracks and detects anomalies in cattle behaviour, but does so remotely, autonomously and in real-time. Chipsafer then sends all this information directly to the farmer, who can access it on a laptop or phone.
US Vendedy Christine Souffrant Vendedy is a social enterprise startup that is digitising the street vendor industry via mobile technology. For the first time, street vendors can upload photos of their products online via mobile devices so that a traveling consumer can search, purchase, and pay for an item via SMS.

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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