Can corporate sustainability assist with human rights, peace and development goals? Data-driven strategies can pave the way forward.


Cognitiks CEO Sadaf Lakhani, a feature "Economists on Peace" contributor, writes for The Institute for Economics and Peace on how to enhance corporate efforts towards the promotion and protection of human rights and achieving the SDGs.

How can data science help organizations in high-risk countries? Cognitiks CEO Sadaf Lakhani talks with the host of the Global Startup Movement podcast

With the UNGA SDGs summit and the read out of the Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 coming up later this month, The Global Startup Movement recorded a podcast with Cognitiks on how private corporations and development institutions can accelerate achievement of the SDGs.

YouTube video of interview

Risk Tracking - Cognitiks

Creating value from sustainability

Our client is a Fortune 10 technology company

The challenge

The Citizenship team (part of the Sustainability unit) had struggled with keeping their budgets and demonstrating value. 

They wanted to showcase their results and social investments and ensure that their future projects were more strategically aligned with business strategy, showing how they add business value.

Our approach

We helped our client to first work through and explore in more detail each of the challenges they had been experiencing, and why. We then workshopped with related stakeholders across other business units, both to understand better their roles in the challenges of our client and to identify key challenges and risks they had been experiencing in meeting KPIs. As a result we updated the company’s materiality assessment, adding key impacts that had not been previously identified and had not been considered by the sustainability team, and which were also not understood across business units. We reviewed existing and past sustainability projects based on the country office’s strategy and goals for the following year and assisted the citizenship team with a strategy and a sustainability reporting framework that assisted with meeting the KPIs of other business units. This was then socialized with relevant internal and external stakeholders and validated. 

The outcome

The following year, our client’s citizenship strategy was noticed by senior management at the regional office; they had held high-visibility events, entered into a prestigious partnership  and implemented projects that brought measurable value. The new reporting framework we designed was used also as part of the strategic planning process by other business units. Not only did our client hold on to their existing budget but they were allocated additional funds.

“ Successful businesses of the future will be those who align their values with those of their customers, and demonstrate that clearly through out their corporate governance, products and services.”

Data Driven Platform - Cognitiks

A data-driven platform that supports decision-making

The challenge

How many times have you read a report, filed it, and then later, when you need it for planning, try to recall the findings and struggle to figure out how to use them, along with the findings in numerous other reports? Our client- a federal government contractor- was tasked with collecting a large volume of structured survey and qualitative data with the objective, not only to understand the current situation, but also to inform strategy and programing. 

Our approach

We assisted our client in designing the data collection tools to ensure the right information would be available and identified existing data that the client already had. We cleaned and structured the data and using machine learning identified patterns that gave insights into the dynamics of the situation. We built a platform that allowed different teams to explore the data with ease.

The outcome

Rather than simply a ‘snap-shot’ text report, we created an analytics platform that allows the government agency to add updated data and new data sets, perform queries and take appropriate evidence-based actions as well as track changes over time. We helped our client make decision-making easier, evidence-based and more transparent.

Want a client testimony?

Addressing grievances and getting upstream of complaints

The challenge

A large international development financing bank had been experiencing a growing number of complaints and wanted a better way of managing the risks to their operations through a complaints handling mechanism.

Our approach

We worked with the client and stakeholders to assess the existing approach and mechanism.  Using a systems approach we redesigned an improved and updated complaints handling mechanism that suited the capacity of the users, digitalizing with appropriate technology parts of the system.

The outcome

Our redesigned system allows management to undertake case-management directly in the system and by adding preset queries based on the client needs, managers can also analyze complaints to understand better the risks and take mitigation measures, before those risks are elevated to complaints and threaten operations.

Want a client testimony?

Results and performance tracking

The challenge

Disbursing $70 million in loans to small and medium sized enterprises and assisting with growing the local economy in a context fraught with corruption is no easy task. Our client, fully committed to transparency and passionate about achieving real results, asked for our help.

Our approach

In addition to providing an evidence base for their funding and partnerships strategy, we built a Performance analytics and results tracking platform. The interactive platform allows stakeholders to see the results that LSETF is achieving. The performance analytics, available only to LSETF and investors, allows users to track repayment, ROI and analyze data on the 10,000 loan beneficiaries to identify factors related to loan performance and results and inform future investments.

The outcome

LSETF has been able to identify what correlates with well performing lendees, as well as the investments that result in the greatest development outcomes. Their strategy is being adjusted accordingly to to define new products and services and to deliver maximum impact and 

In June 2019 they were nominated for an award for financial services sector/ SME ‘Responsible Digital Product’.

You can learn more about LSETF’s work on growing Lagos State’s economy and generating jobs here

Cognitiks presents new technologies for social accountability at the World Bank

Cognitiks presents on new technologies at the World Bank's Global Program for Social Accountability.

July 30, 2019
WB MC4-300 | Online

This event is co-sponsored by GPSA and the Gov Tech partnership.


Strides in machine learning, cloud computing and data mining & analysis are poised to transform organizations and economies. They also hold great potential for strengthening the efficacy of social accountability and citizen engagement mechanisms.

Cognitiks presented at the World Bank Global Program for Social Accountability and Gov Tech Partnership on new technologies for social accountability.  Watch the presentation and discussion here.

Risk tracking

Risk Tracker - developing a customized solution for risk management

The challenge

We met this multi-national consumer goods client shortly after a series of disruptions and violent protests that had impacted profits over 3 quarters. They had tried using a number of ‘the off the shelf’ risk tools but they had still sustained large losses over the past 12 months and wanted assistance with a more strategic approach to their managing risk in their supply chain and distribution.

Our approach

Based on our local knowledge of the drivers of risks as well as understanding the company’s specific exposure, we provided our client with granular, realtime information as well as forecasting that enabled them to plan with confidence.

The outcome

Our client has a more strategic approach to sourcing suppliers and planning distribution. In addition, we assist them with monitoring the supply chain plan, and will be facilitating their annual planning based on a broader risk and materiality assessment. With our guidance, they have also committed to making more strategic risk and sustainability investments to manage risks “upstream”.

Political risk was at the top of CEOs concerns in 2018.
70% of global companies with over $10 billion in revenue lost more than $100m in a single event

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How can new technologies and data science assist corporations with anti-corruption compliance?

For corporations, corruption in the supply chain constitutes a significant legal, financial and reputational risk and can compromise the positive impact that companies can have on local economies.

Our clients have used due diligence, monitoring, and auditing of third parties used by an organization as a tool to measure third party capability and the strength of the third party’s compliance program. This is most often done by relying on certification or by asking third parties to demonstrate compliance with standards- such as ISO37001.

Cognitiks has developed data-driven tools to strengthen that process, to go beyond reliance on third party certification, through strategic data collection and analysis of suppliers.

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Cognitiks talks closing civic spaces with Vint Cerf, “Father of the Internet”

Its not every day that you get the opportunity to meet Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Evangelist for Google, who- along with Bob Kahn- created the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture for what we know today as the internet.

We met with Vint at the PeaceTech Lab, along with a handful of other social enterprises that were supported by the PeaceTech Accelerator program. In addition to providing thoughtful advice to each company, Vint spoke with the Cognitiks team about the worrying trend of “closing digital space” by governments and private entities around the world. Given the role that the internet has played in promoting democracy, allowing civil society and human rights activists to collaborate and organize, this trend threatens access to information, and along with it social accountability and fundamental freedoms for citizens globally. We need to leverage opportunities he stressed for keeping digital resources accessible to all.

Following the ARPA “Internetting project” Vint’s work made the Internet a publicly accessible medium by expanding the  existing ARPANET connections between US government agencies, universities and defense contractors to public computers through a “network of networks”.  Since leaving DARPA in 1982 Vint has continued to work to ensure the Internet is a tool to improve people’s lives and livelihoods and that the Internet is a positive force for good with helping people achieve their goals and aspirations.

Cognitiks will shortly be announcing a new partnership to assist with the use of digital resources for ensuring open civic spaces and a thriving civil society. Check back here soon!