New White Paper: Partnering with private firms in fragile & conflict-affected contexts. Optimizing impact through data-driven solutions.

Multiple trends in the business and development worlds have brought together public agencies and the business community in efforts to find solutions for som of the worlds most pressing problems. This momentum is only likely to grow further and will help propel private companies even further into addressing global challenges and governance issues- such as that of addressing conflict and fragility and contributing to meeting Sustainable Development Goal 16.

Private enterprise has been recognized by aid agencies, development financing institutions and  national security agencies as critical in assisting countries on the path from fragility and conflict to stable, prosperous and inclusive economies. Private enterprises provide jobs, essential goods and services, tax revenues for the government, and assist in strengthening the market institutions that pave the way for further investment and for economic growth. In some fragile  or conflict affected countries experiencing, foreign direct investment is greater than aid flows into the country or the national government resources available and overall, the trend over the past 15 years has been to use development assistance to catalyze or leverage resources and investments from the private sector.

However, public financing has fallen short of its stated development aims and while blended finance is seen as the way forward to achieving the SDGs, a new, more finely calibrated and data-driven approach to leveraging private sector interest and resources is needed. In order to help usher in greater and more consistent investment and to ensure relevancy and greatest development impact of the private sector in addressing drivers of fragility and conflict, public agencies and organizations with explicit aims to this end will need to adopt new approaches that build on strengths and address weaknesses of existing instruments.

In this paper we explore some of the challenges in working with the private sector on addressing fragility and conflict- including drivers of violent extremism, and the motivations and concerns of companies in these contexts. We propose data-driven approaches and solutions that can be adopted by the public sector to maximize investments and ensure the greatest impact of private sector resources towards addressing fragility and conflict drivers

Who should read this paper?

  • Development Financing Institutions, particularly departments dealing with structured finance or blended financing in fragile states, conflict contexts;
  • Export credit agencies and other organizations underwriting investment risk for companies in emerging markets;
  • Multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, particularly departments working on fragile states, conflict contexts, violent extremism and political violence;
  • National and regional development banks;
  • Private enterprise funds and other development or social impact oriented equity funds;
  • UN Agencies and partners supporting the SDGs, particularly 16 and 17.

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Cognitiks - Kenya

Addressing marginalization is key to preventing another terror attack in Kenya. What can your company do?

With trust in public institutions at a low, CEOs of private corporations are being called upon to lead social change. Gender equality, climate change and ending hunger are examples of some of the most pressing social issues of our time that corporations are helping to solve. But what can firms do to address drivers of violence and conflict that threaten the security and development outcomes for 2 billion people around the world?

In this publication, we look at the latest terror attack in Kenya and how addressing marginalization is key to preventing another attack. We present research based on surveys undertaken with global corporations, best practices from both the public and private sector and recommendations from Cognitiks’ solutions. We show how the private sector can contribute to achieving peace and sustainable development goals.

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How can technology assist in the delivery of healthcare for last-mile patients in developing countries

Great strides in technology in the USA and Europe promise to drive improved healthcare and better health outcomes. CRISPR, the application of virtual reality to medicine, big data for social determinants of health, the spread of electronic health records and specialized, patient customized health apps are amongst a few of the trends that have seen significant growth in 2018. Many of these technologies and application are not relevant however for developing world contexts where healthcare provision must reach last-mile populations that often lack connection to basic infrastructure let alone the kind of ecosystem that would support technological applications.  

What has worked however and which technologies offer solutions for improving healthcare service delivery and health outcomes in developing world contexts.

This guidance note takes a look at technologies that can be integrated into healthcare service delivery programs by private companies, international development agencies, NGOs and governments in contexts where primary health outcomes are still the focus, in low tech, resource-poor and low literacy environments.  

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The Paris riots are an example of growing risk globally. Use the right data and models for forecasting what’s to come next.

The recent riots in Paris may have come as a surprise for some. For others, the recent social protests that led to destruction of public and private property in Paris, and a potential declaration of a State of Emergency, were not unexpected.

While some analysts say that the cost of living in France has not been rising so steeply as to warrant this type of reaction, macro indicators themselves rarely tell the full story.  Nor do they give the kinds of insights required to better understand and manage risks.  For social observers, trouble had been fomenting for some time. For governments and businesses, the results of interaction between the macro indicators they may be watching and more granular social risk indicators, is key to understanding and forecasting moments like the Paris riots; and the broader impacts that will result in losses for governments and businesses alike.

“Global and regional risks, such as the escalation in trade wars also have highly context-specific manifestations as they interact with local factors, and in some cases amplify risk.”

Last year, 70 per cent of global companies with an annual turnover of more than $10 billion reported a single event in 2017 in which they lost more than $100 million. And these events were not one-offs.Losses were continual, with CEOs reporting that political risk is at the very top of their list of concerns, and that they were looking for new ways of managing risk.

Populist movements,  elections like those seen in Latin America, growing potential for conflict in Africa and the Middle East, can drive further waves of displacement. Changes are afoot and risk is growing, and not just in emerging markets.Structural changes in European economies, slowing growth in the U.S., Europe and China. Widening inequalities between social groups have contributed to growing grievances in traditionally safe markets. Global and regional risks, such as the escalation in trade wars also have highly context-specific manifestations as they interact with local factors and in some cases to amplify risk. But without knowing what that means in a specific market and how to manage those risks before they become a threat, companies are likely to continue to sustain losses and governments remain at a loss of what to do.


Can technology driven solutions be used to help urban citizens access affordable housing?

Cities around the world are growing at unprecedented rates. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia and one of the largest cities in South East Asia, has topped 10 million, is now a global city, along with that urban growth has been a growth in the economy. While Urbanization yields many positive benefits, it can also result in negative impacts such an high inequalities, growing land disputes and lack of access to basic services. Another problem found in many rapidly urbanizing areas is lack of access to affordable housing for urban citizens. In Jakarta supply issues and because many urban residents do not have access to financing options result in many residents building structures- usually temporary- themselves. While the government has put in place a number of economic incentives and regulations, the availability of affordable housing is still very low. The World Bank estimates that approx. 1 million housing units will need to become available each year between now and 2030 to meet the demand for housing in Jakarta alone. Last week, a gathering of community organizations, developers, local government agencies and lending institutions came together at a World Bank and a Ministry of Public Works and Housing event in Jakarta, with one question that was discussed “ How can technology change Indonesia’s housing ecosystem?

The discussion and the technologies show-cased were uplifting and provided inspiration for stakeholders in other rapidly urbanizing countries. One of the solutions show-cased addressed the of suitability and location of affordable housing- by using geospatial tools to help agencies find suitable land for new and upgraded affordable housing development. Another tool uses block-chain technology to streamline the process of land titling, and reduce errors and corruption in the process.

While each solution tackles a different piece of the affordable housing challenge, they all had one thing in common- they were all started or staffed with young Indonesians, possessing the kind of technology skills and business mind sets that can not only help growth Indonesia’s economy but will ensure that there is a robust social enterprise sector to tackle the country’s economic and social challenges.


Cognitiks

Lagos State Employment Trust Fund partners with Cognitiks

The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, providing financial products to tens of thousands of SMEs, has partnered with Cognitiks to maximize impact of its business support, job-creation and wealth generation programs. Cognitiks started working with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund in early 2017. The trust fund, established by the Governor of Lagos to assist the city address the needs for new economic growth through micro and small business loans and assistance for entrepreneurs.

Lagos has a population of 21 million, according to the state’s government, half of whom are under 25 yrs old.  By 2050 Nigeria will have twice the population it has today, more than half of those will be resident in cities, and about 60% of the population will be under 25, placing the economy and its large urban areas under increasing strain. While Lagos draws people from surrounding areas near and far, most arrivals find that there are few job opportunities and a lack of housing

The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund was established in 2016 to provide financial and technical support to residents of Lagos State, to tackle unemployment through job and wealth creation. It operates a Naira 25Billion fun (approx. $70 million) that provides access for micro, small and medium sized businesses to affordable credit. Technology- driven businesses can also benefit from infrastructure and services, learning and a network that supports B2B connections. The trust fund also aims to train and equip10,000 currently unemployed youth with the vocational skills and job placements they need to enter the labor market, and at the same time support the growth of five different economic sectors in Lagos State.

With a such a large number of target beneficiaries, three different programs and a diverse range of intended impacts, LSETF has partnered with Cognitiks on a pilot project to ensure effective allocation of resources, delivery and tracking of results and communication of impact to stakeholders using advanced data analytics. For more information contact info@cognitiks.com


Cognitiks

Cognitiks talks double bottom line at DC Start-Up Week

Creating the Double Bottom Line – how can impact entrepreneurship help?

Cognitiks CEO Sadaf Lakhani spoke on a panel at a Google sponsored DC Start-Up Week event. She was joined on the panel by fellow entrepreneurs from the current and past PeaceTech-C5 Accelerator program. Sadaf spoke with the audience about what startups can do even if they have not yet scaled:
“Its really important to start with your own company. Create within your team and your ecosystem what it is you want to achieve with your customers”.

#DCStartupWeek brings together 50 collaborating organizations to help entrepreneurs innovate and create value.


Cognitiks

New publication: Human Rights on the Internet and the Sustainable Development Goals; a guidance note for ICT companies

Why you should read this note
The ICT sector faces ever-increasing scrutiny over how human rights issues are being considered in the design of products and services, as well as how their operations more broadly impact upon human rights-  online but also offline . The range of stakeholder interest is broad- including boards, shareholders and investors, as well as governments, consumers, civil society organizations, and the wider public.

This note examines the new UNHCR resolution, as well as existing resolutions and voluntary codes, and provides summary guidance to companies in the ICT and media sectors on the implications of the resolution for companies’ who are committed to supporting the attainment and enjoyment of human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals through their operations and products.

The note highlights the range of human rights and development impacts – both positive and negative- that may be present or possible through ICT companies’ goods and services. We focus in particular on markets where we see closing space for civil society and those markets that experience poor governance, political volatility, high rates of violent crime, or conflict.

Who should read this note

The ICT sector comprises companies offering a range of products and services, including hardware and software manufacturers, network vendors, telecommunications operators and web-based service providers.

This note provides summary guidance for companies across this spectrum, however,  understanding the role of your firm and identifying the specific responsibilities and potential human rights and development impacts associated with your company’s products and services, and for specific markets requires more in-depth analysis.

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Why ‘net neutrality’ is important for protecting consumer rights, human rights and innovation.

The Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules last December, which had required internet providers to offer equal access to all web content,  went into effect yesterday. ‘Net neutrality’ is the principle that all internet traffic should be provided to all consumers with the same quality and same speed, regardless of whether an internet service provider has a financial interest in promoting one website over another.

The rules essentially prevented service providers from censoring content online, or from charging additional fees for better services-  like higher speeds or for access to certain parts of the internet- such as to social media sites.

While several states have taken steps to reimpose the rules on a local level, the repeal was a big win for the F.C.C.’s, whose chairperson has long opposed the regulations, saying they impede innovation. Supporters of the repeal have argued that the repeal is actually beneficial for consumers because it restores the authority of the F.T.C over internet service providers.

Many consumers, activist groups and some law-makers conversely are worried that the digital economy that the US has built will be negatively impacted by the rollback because repeal will allow anticompetitive acts and unfair or deceptive practices, and that these will go largely unchecked. Consumer rights and even a range of human rights protected by the constitution and international law, however, could be threatened. We look in more detail at what the possible impacts will be.

The rules that have been repealed used to prohibit the following practices:

BLOCKING Internet service providers could not discriminate against any lawful content by blocking websites or apps.

THROTTLING Service providers could not slow the transmission of data because of the nature of the content, as long as it was legal.

PAID PRIORITIZATION Service providers could not create an internet fast lane for companies and consumers who paid premiums, and a slow lane for those who didn’t.

E-commerce start-ups are also worried that practices of paid prioritization by ISPs, they could end up on the losing end with their websites and services loading more slowly than those run by internet giants. Remote workers of all kinds, including freelancers and franchisees in the  gig economy, could similarly face higher costs to do their jobs from home.A major concern is that consumers could suffer from “pay to play” deals. Without rules that prohibit paid prioritization of content and sites, a fast lane could be occupied by big internet and media companies, wealthier households and large businesses, while everyone else would be left in the slow lane.

At a time when developing nations such as India and Nigeria are being encouraged to promote freedom on the internet and are taking the approach of opening the net and trying to close gaps in access between different groups of consumers, the United States- with the ostensible objective of encouraging competition – is taking an approach which puts the expansion of large legacy companies ahead of consumer and human rights.

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