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African Media Agency -English

Mastercard Foundation Appoints Robin Washington to Board of Directors




TORONTO, Ontario, June 22, 2021 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- The Mastercard Foundation announced changes to its Board of Directors. Robin L. Washington was appointed to the Board and long-time Board member President Festus G. Mogae will be retiring.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Robin Washington to the Board,” says Zein M. Abdalla, Mastercard Foundation Board Chair. “As you can see from Robin’s biography, she brings a fantastic range of operational experience and insight that will benefit the Foundation enormously as we continue to expand our impact.”

Robin L. Washington is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Alphabet, Inc., Honeywell International, Inc., and She served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Gilead Sciences, Inc. from May 2008 until November 2019, where she oversaw Global Finance, Facilities and Operations, Investor Relations and the Information Technology divisions. Prior to Gilead, she was the Chief Financial Officer of Hyperion Solutions, Inc. Ms. Washington is a certified public accountant. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

“The Mastercard Foundation does not shy away from the complex challenges facing the world in these unprecedented times,” says Washington. “They have an ambitious goal that will drive meaningful change and impact the lives of millions of young people living in poverty. I am looking forward to being a part of the Foundation’s Board and contributing to this important work.”

Current Board member President Festus G. Mogae is retiring from the Board after 11 years of service. He led the Republic of Botswana from 1998 to 2008 and focused his efforts on fighting poverty and unemployment as well as reducing the spread of HIV/AIDs. President Mogae is the recipient of several international awards, including the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership and the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur presented to him by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 for his exemplary leadership in establishing Botswana as a “model of democracy and good governance.” President Mogae currently serves as a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust and is an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“President Mogae is deservedly celebrated for his work across Africa and globally. He has long been an advocate for peace and a supporter of human rights, and his active leadership has enabled the advancement of economic and social progress on the continent,” says Abdalla. “On behalf of the Foundation, I sincerely thank him for his wisdom and service over the years. He will be deeply missed.”

Mastercard Foundation Board of Directors
The Mastercard Foundation Board of Directors currently includes:

  • Zein Abdalla, Mastercard Foundation Board Chair and retired President of PepsiCo, Inc.
  • Valerie Amos, CH, Director of SOAS, University of London and former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator
  • The Honourable Louise Arbour, Jurist in residence at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Doug Baillie, Retired Chief Human Resources Officer of Unilever
  • Craig Calhoun, Professor of Social Sciences, Arizona State University
  • Jennifer Fonstad, Co-Founder, Aspect Ventures
  • Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Managing Partner, African Exchange Holdings Company; President of 50 Ventures, LLC; and former U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
  • Jay Ireland, Retired President and CEO, GE Africa
  • Jim Leech, CM, Senior Advisor with McKinsey & Company; former Chancellor of Queen’s University; and retired CEO of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
  • Michael Sabia, Deputy Minister of Finance Canada and former Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize recipient
  • Robin L. Washington, Former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Mastercard Foundation.

About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation is a Canadian foundation and one of the largest foundations in the world with more than $39 billion in assets. For more than a decade, the Foundation has advanced financial inclusion and education in Africa, improving the lives of more than 45 million people living in poverty. The Foundation was created in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. Since its inception, the Foundation has operated independently of the company. The Foundation’s policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by its Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
Toni Tiemens
Head of Corporate Communications

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African Media Agency -English

Connecting the dots to deliver true customer service




Customer service must evolve if companies want to deliver true value and radically change engagement

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 27 July 2021 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- Most companies have invested in some form of digital customer experience toolkit or technology solution to gain deeper understanding, improve processes, and streamline engagements. Most have looked at chatbots, analytics, and integration to translate customer complexity into seamless simplicity. As McKinsey says, it’s all about building the superior customer experience that delivers a complete picture of the customer’s behaviour and preferences. This is all true, says Wynand Smit, CEO at INOVO, but customers are still getting frustrated and angry because they can’t get a grip on communication with companies.

Wynand Smit, CEO at INOVO

Connecting the dots

“There’s a disconnect between the technology that the company has invested in and the experience,” says Smit. “People read stories about self-driving cars that can identify a rock on the highway, yet their bank or mobile service provider cannot identify them immediately when they call in to fix a simple billing problem. They expect better, but they’re not getting it.” 

Ultimately, the customer wants to stop that vein from pulsing in the centre of their head because they’ve spent the past hour on the phone, been passed to three different people and given five different answers to their question. They want fast and simple service and easy access to the right information so they can service themselves and resolve problems relatively easily. However, if something goes wrong, they look at all the different channels of communication – social media, email, call centre, chatbot – and take a deep, fortifying breath before they try and fix a problem. “

Customers want there to be a connection, that’s all,” says Smit. “They want the call they had with the call centre to be communicated with the email team and shared with the resolution team. They don’t want to have to explain the same problem, repeatedly, only to get stuck in the endless loop of frustration. Unfortunately, this is the most common result of a customer complaint or query – frustration.” 

Adding more channels to the customer service process only adds more problems if not done correctly – every channel needs to be connected, relevant and the context must be retained if a customer moves across multiple touchpoints. There also needs to be clear pathways to problem resolution that minimises friction. Simply put, organisations need to make it simpler for customers to do business with them.  

No more empty promises 

Usually, companies spend a lot of money on technology designed to attract the customer, but not enough time or effort is put into retaining them. Frustrating delays, unnecessary errors and empty promises are often what’s left once the customer has been pulled in – and this divide is both commonplace and unnecessary. Building a bridge across this gap is where true customer service lies, and value is delivered. “

It’s about keeping the promise made to the customer and delivering support that’s timeous and relevant,” concludes Smit. “Manage interactions more effectively, introduce better self-service tools, and remove the muddle in the middle and you’ve got happy, loyal and retained customers. Use the capabilities of technology to deliver what you promise and use the right metrics to monitor what needs to improve.” 

Infrastructure, technology and processes need to make customers’ lives easier. It’s as simple and effective as that. The easier it is for the customer to do business with your business, the higher your retention rates and the better for, well, business.

 Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of INOVO.

About Wynand Smit
With over 10 years of operational and strategic experience in the SA contact centre industry, Wynand’s understanding of technology and its application to business has benefitted multiple organisations across a variety of industries. As CEO of contact centre solutions provider INOVO, he is passionate about using the contact centre as a platform to drive positive change in a business. 

INOVO offers contact centres a flexible way to service, sell to, or collect from customers across any channel – all with a view to transforming the customer experience, saving costs and driving efficiency and profitability. Through a collaborative approach, the company provides award-winning technology, solutions and professional services that deliver better, measurable results. For more information, go to

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Swiss Investment Company CV VC Builds Up a Blockchain Ecosystem in South Africa




Venture Capitalist looks for Early-Stage Startups in Africa

  • Zug-based investment company CV VC opens an office in Cape Town and appoints Gideon Greaves as Managing Director Africa
  • African startups can immediately apply for the incubation program in Switzerland
  • The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) signed an agreement to contribute to the establishment of a blockchain ecosystem in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 8 July 2021 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- CV VC (Crypto Valley Venture Capital), a Swiss investment company, has been successfully investing in early-stage startups from around the world for two and a half years. These companies develop products, applications and services based on blockchain technology. After having opened CV Labs in Zug, Vaduz (Liechtenstein) and Dubai, CV VC is now opening its first office on the African continent in Cape Town. 

South Africa as most promising blockchain & technology location
More and more blockchain applications are being implemented across the African continent. According to the 2020 Global Crypto Adoption Index, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have the highest rates of crypto and blockchain adoption worldwide. It was highlighted that there is a very high understanding of the potential of this technology in South Africa in particular.

CV VC’s goal in Africa, together with partners from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and local stakeholders, is to invest in 100 startups that have the potential to tackle the challenges of the African continent over the next four years. The SECO signed a special agreement with CV VC. The joint project aims to support the development of an independent ecosystem in South Africa by transferring know-how and experience from Swiss Crypto Valley to serve as a hub for Africa.

CVVC is seeking to leverage upon the aspirations of the Swiss Government, which is setting a foreign policy focus on its Africa Strategy. “The region is becoming increasingly important, also for Switzerland,” says Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, referring to Africa’s significant political, economic, cultural and scientific potential.For this reason, CV VC is opening an office in Cape Town in close cooperation with local stakeholders, such as co-working spaces, entrepreneurs, investors, authorities and universities.

“We are happy to start our Africa chapter with an initial foothold in South Africa, a thriving hub for entrepreneurs, developers and creatives and an already well-established startup and technology ecosystem. With the experience and know-how from Crypto Valley, including infrastructure providers, an enabling regulatory framework and our global network, we will be able to accelerate growth for blockchain startups and grow the blockchain ecosystem in all of Africa”, said Mathias Ruch, CEO and founder of CV VC. 

Gideon Greaves,
Managing Director Africa, CV VC

CV VC has appointed Gideon Greaves as its new Managing Director Africa, located in Cape Town. “I’m incredibly excited to be a part of CV VC’s journey into Africa. Being a leapfrog population, we are in a prime position to adopt this disruptive technology and I believe this continent can lead the crypto and blockchain charge”, commented Gideon Greaves.

In close cooperation with the University of Zurich, the Swiss Embassy in South Africa will establish a blockchain chair at the University of Johannesburg in September, financed in equal parts by Switzerland and South Africa. 

 Four successful blockchain-based African startups in the CV VC portfolio 

CV VC has created a bespoke incubation program and invested in 27 blockchain startups from Switzerland, Europe, the Americas and Africa. Four of them have African roots:

  • Math for Money aims to create a financially independent future generation by teaching children basic math and introducing positive financial behavior from a young age. The Math for Money app allows parents to easily administer pocket money after gaining insights into their child’s math process. Children get incentives to use their time wisely and gain knowledge at the same time.
  • Entrepreneurs and business owners often face a time-consuming and complicated process when starting a new online business. With Xion, you can skip this business scrutiny that comes with it. The Xion platform caters to merchants by helping them manage customers, subscriptions, and sales, with minimal effort to sign up and use only two code lines.
  • The Earth is currently facing the largest mass extinction in human history and solutions to this problem are not moving fast. Wildcards allow individuals to transparently and easily ‘adopt’ an endangered animal and contribute to sustainability through a fun and engaging platform. The platform is a highly liquid NFT marketplace.
  • Accelerating impact investing is critical for the challenges the world is facing. Proof of Impact is a data intelligence platform that makes impact data accessible to maximize return on investment. Proof of Impact will help impact investors transform static impact data reporting into a cost-effective, real-time, dynamic digital solution. Proof of Impact is on a mission to make impact data accessible and measurable both for investors and impact providers.

To promote the blockchain startup ecosystem in Africa, the CV VC Africa Advisory Board will be launched with high-profile individuals from the sub-Saharan region (South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Congo and other countries). As its first member, Cape Town-based entrepreneur and co-founder of Proof of Impact, Fleur Heyns, will help connect CV VC with business, political, academic and community figures. CV VC already has a Global Advisory Board, chaired by Philipp Rösler, former German Vice-Chancellor and Director of the World Economic Forum. 

Application for the startup incubation program in Switzerland

Early-stage startups building applications based on blockchain technology will join the global CV Labs incubation program in Zug, Switzerland. The next program starts at the end of September. Applications are open via The five most promising projects will be invited to the program in Switzerland or virtually, depending on the pandemic situation. The selected startups will receive an investment of up to USD 125,000.

In addition, investors can participate in the growing startup portfolio of the Zug-based company through investment products launched in cooperation with Swiss Asset Manager partners. The first “Technology for Tomorrow” certificate has just been launched.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Crypto Valley Venture Capital.

Media contact:

Samantha Seewoosurrun

Mathias Ruch, Founder and CEO of CV VC
Gideon Greaves, Managing Director Africa of CV VC

Notes to Editors:
High-resolution photographs of the CV VC Labs and the team, and the CV VC logo, are available for download at the following link:

About Crypto Valley Venture Capital
Based in Zug, Switzerland, the private investment company invests in crypto and blockchain companies at all stages of development.

CV VC is an early-stage venture capital investment firm focusing on startups that build on blockchain technology. The company offers seed funding and an incubation program for promising startups in exchange for equity.

CV Labs are a unique ecosystem and co-working spaces in Zug, Vaduz and Dubai along with additional partner hubs all over the world. These spaces are tailored to the needs of blockchain companies and regularly host networking events. It is an ideal starting point for startups participating in the CV Labs incubation program.

The CV Summit and Crypto Valley Week bring together innovative startups, industry experts, investors and companies experimenting with distributed ledger technology.

CV Maps is the first online directory of the rapidly growing blockchain ecosystem in Crypto Valley and other regions. The continuously updated database contains over 1,200 companies.

For more information, please visit

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African Media Agency -English

Thales appoints Gregory Ligny Vice-President, Africa




Gregory Ligny will lead Thales activities across the African continent, which include a growing number of strategic partnerships and projects in Defense & Security, Aerospace, Space, Digital Identity & Security and Transport

PARIS, France, 22 June 2021 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- Thales announces the appointment of Gregory Ligny as Vice-President, Africa. In this role, he will be responsible for the strategic growth of Thales in Africa across all markets, with a clear focus on leveraging local partnerships and digital transformation.

Gregory Ligny
Vice-President of Thales, Africa

“Gregory brings to this role a combined experience in Sales, project management and solid understanding of the African market. Under his leadership, the Group will continue to accompany the continent’s vibrant growth.”Pascale Sourisse, Senior Executive Vice-President, International Development, Thales. 

Prior to this appointment, Gregory was Chief Operating Officer of Thales AMEWA (Africa, Middle East, Western Asia including Saudi Arabia and India). He previously managed Key Industrial Partners for Thales Africa. Earlier in his career, he held key positions in sales, project development in Africa and overseas. Gregory holds an Executive MBA from HEC Paris, and a Master’s degree in International Commerce.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Thales.

About Thales
Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global leader in advanced technologies, investing in digital and “deep tech” innovations – connectivity, big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum computing – to build a confident future crucial for the development of our societies. The Group provides its customers – businesses, organisations and governments – in the defense, aeronautics, space, transport, and digital identity and security domains with solutions, services and products that help them fulfil their critical role, consideration for the individual being the driving force behind all decisions.

Thales has 81,000 employees in 68 countries. In 2020 the Group generated sales of €17 billion.

Thales, Media Relations
Tarek Solimane

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