Interview with Simon Cranswick, MD Anana Africa and Chantel Botha, CEO Brandlove on the rapid evolution of Customer Experience Management over the last year.

The CEM landscape is evolving rapidly and companies are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with new trends and technologies.

Now in its 5th year running, the annual CEM Africa Summit is taking place in Cape Town on 17th and 18 August. Simon Cranswick and Chantel Botha are both members of this year’s advisory panel. In an interview with Kinetic Events the two discuss how CEM has evolved and how companies can stay ahead of the game – Cranswick from a technological solutions perspective and Botha representing the viewpoint of the consumer.

Simon Cranswick has been involved in the CEM space for the last 21 years from a consulting and business-enabling technology solution perspective. As MD of Anana Africa, he is passionate about CEM practices, focusing on how business processes are viewed and experienced by an organisation’s customers.

Chantel Botha is a brand and business innovator who focuses on how customers connect with brands. Founder and CEO of BrandLove, she writes for various publications and speaks at conferences around the globe.

1. What is your opinion of the overall customer experience (CX) landscape in Africa and how it has evolved over the last year?

Simon Cranswick:

“When it comes to execution of CX, Africa is an interesting market in that on some things it is actually quite advanced but in other dimensions still a bit behind the rest of the global landscape. So with historically not having had great access to service through the traditional landline, the African Business to Consumer market has exploded over the last 15 to 20 years due to the proliferation of mobile devices. Now that these devices have become Smart, there is a plethora of ways in which customers can contact a brand and a business can engage its customers. The digital age of CX engagement is upon us and it has brought with it a host of challenges for the not so agile companies and massive opportunities for the dynamic organisations that are embracing it.”

Chantel Botha:

“When asked if companies and brands in South Africa are taking customer experience management and design seriously and using it to their advantage to differentiate and build relationships, I would say no.

Customer experience as a subject is widely misunderstood. It requires commitment in terms of wide systemic change that includes all departments and with a focus on processes, people and technology.”

2. How much time do you spend catering products/services to individual consumer needs versus to general market needs?

Simon Cranswick:

“This has always been the challenge… customer interaction hubs have been developed for organisations that have a mass customer/consumer base. The challenge is how does one personalise the service in a dynamic fashion with ‘in the moment context’ around the customer?

The answer is the smart organisation must spend time in addressing this as a requirement of their whole CX strategy. Both the general needs of the market and the personalisation of service will be part of any good CX strategy.”

3. What does it take for you to feel like your specific needs are being met versus feeling like a brand is just targeting the general market?

Chantel Botha:

“The skills that are widely lacking when I engage with any brand as a customer are the ability for people to listen and to understand, as well as to anticipate possible solutions to my problem.

Most service consultants listen just enough, while they are punching in details on a computer, with the aim being to quickly respond and to get rid of you. It is rare to get someone who listens to really understand, asks more questions and responds with compassion and various solutions; who really tests those solutions to see which ones will make the customer happy.

I can respond very cheekily to the question of scalable personalisation, but we are just so far from getting the basics right.”

4. What would you say is the recipe for successful CX implementation?

Simon Cranswick:

  • “Visualisation” of where you want to go i.e. an overall CX strategy and underlying roadmap of initiatives
  • Waking up to the fact that it is not just about implementing a CRM/BPM (Customer Relationship Management/Business Process Management package!
  • Understanding where and how your customers are ‘talking with or about your brand’
  • Taking an engagement approach rather than the ‘ostrich with its head in the sand’ approach
  • Development of an engagement methodology across all points of interaction that is enabled with context to seamlessly traverse the interaction channels as the dialogue/customer journey unfolds
  • Being able to report on efficacy and take action where the ball is being dropped or ingrain the top experiences as learning and change standard processes accordingly
  • To realize that CX is about continuous improvement and not a once-off silver bullet
  • Proper C-level sponsorship
  • To partner with good skills and expertise – check out the references and don’t just listen to the slideware!”

5. What are the enablers we need to create remarkable experiences?

Chantel Botha:

  • Let people be human again: Most service consultants have a very clear view of what good service looks like. Empower them with solutions and let them grow those solutions themselves.
  • Cultivate courageous leaders: Cultivate leaders that try and try again and design experiences for their teams that will inspire them to deliver their very best.
  • Use design as a competitive weapon: You need to create an environment where people can design and you need facilitators that will lead design initiatives for you in a way that translates the design into implementation.
  • Fix the processes: Very often, we sweep the broken stuff in organisations under the carpet. Look through your journeys, fix all the broken stuff and challenge the limiting beliefs that to fix it would be too hard.
  • Technology is no silver bullet: I love technology! But it can be dangerous when seen as a silver bullet or as something that will replace a compassionate human being. Technology can solve a lot of problems for us, but fundamentally, it needs to be integrated with the human experience.”

Insights like these have been used in creating the agenda for the CEM Africa Summit, where the advisory panel and speakers will be sharing their personal experiences, the latest CEM developments and new, cutting edge ideas.

About Kinetic

Kinetic is an international conference and exhibition company established as a key strategic information provider to the IT and Telecoms sector. Our mission is to equip senior management executives with knowledge, market intelligence and viable commercial opportunities.

About CEM Africa Summit

The CEM Africa Summit brings you the latest developments in a rapidly evolving industry with a topical agenda that focuses on improving your organisation’s CX initiatives to result in increased customer acquisition, customer loyalty and revenue.

Join the conversation on Twitter:

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and Chantel Botha


Start your mornings with Sarah Graham’s hearty, healthy oats!


2/3 cup whole rolled oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)

1 cup coconut milk (or half coconut milk and half water, or nut milk)

1 level tsp cinnamon

1 grated apple

3 tbsp mixed seeds

3 tbsp mixed nuts

Small handful of coconut flakes, to serve

Extra chopped fresh apple, to serve

Fresh berries, to serve (optional, but pretty and delicious


  • Layer all of the ingredients into two glass jars, or a bowl with a lid, and refrigerate overnight.
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  • For a light lunch or supper option, try this Sarah Graham recipe

From the moment we arrived on the warm red soils of Madikwe we knew we were in for a treat but…somehow… it still managed to far exceed our expectations. Madikwe Game Reserve is not only astoundingly large (75000 hectares to be precise) but it is filled with an absolute abundance of wildlife. With over 10 000 head of game including all of Africa’s iconic species – lion, leopard, elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, wild dog and cheetah – Madikwe really is both a regular safari traveler or first time visitor to Africa’s – heaven.

A Big African Welcome

The staff at Madikwe were there waiting as we pulled into the car-port, dressed impeccably, refreshments in hand and warm African smiles blazing! They led us into Kopano lodge with a pride that was so tangible… we were made to feel immediately like it was our home too. Tucked delicately into the hillside, Kopano is at complete peace with its surroundings… no mess, no fuss, no commercial anything – just an exquisite hidden gem of a bush lodge.

So Much Deliciousness

We’d sit down to lunch, dinner or breakfast and Helen would arrive with her delightful demeanor, endless list of culinary delights and of course a dazzling white smile. Every meal was a feast of its own, with 3 mouth-watering courses to it… in fact there really is a point when you just have to say no to something, anything, even though… it is virtually impossible!

Private and Spacious Suites

You really do feel as though you own your own little section of the beautiful African bushveld in these suites. Each suite is totally private and complete with a little plunge pool, sun deck, outside shower and expansive interior. In fact, you could have a perfect day without even stepping outside your room.

Incredible Wildlife Encounters

In just two days we had some awesome experiences with the game, so much so, that it felt like we were there for an eternity. I’ve listed only a few of the best below:

Chilling With the Pride

We sat with a pride of lion for ages while they lazed in the sun and the cubs frolicked amongst them.

A Tea-break with Some Buffalo

We ran into a sizable herd of buffalo in the open plains who very nonchalantly carried on with their grazing… almost unfazed by our presence.

A Visit to the Hyena Den

We stumbled upon a hyena den and watched as mother and cubs frisked and romped around in front of us. Some of the cubs were particularly taken with the mud-flaps on our vehicle and would not leave them alone… this became somewhat of a game and they were relentless to say the least!

The Elephant Fight

We watched two elephant bulls going head to head… a magnificent sight to witness. You could hear the crashing of their tusks as they charged at each other kicking up the red soil and taking out any bushes in their way.

Hunting with Wild Dogs

We were lucky enough to come across a large pack of wild dog that we hunted with and followed for almost an hour. We drove slowly after them as they ran down the boundary line looking for their evening meal… one duiker was taken out and then a great deal of havoc caused when the dogs interrupted some zebra and giraffe from their sunset grazing.

Magical Bush Dinner

On our last night we were driving along, the sun had just gone down and the stars were out in full display when we heard the most melodic African singing. Next minute we drove around a corner and into a magical bush dinner that the camp staff had set up for us. The staff were singing traditional African songs and dancing around the fire… it was only a matter of time until we all joined in. Yet another delicious meal was served but this time to the accompaniment of the exquisite African sky overhead, fires burning, sounds of the bush and the red soil of Madikwe Game Reserve at our feet. To say it was enchanting would be an under-statement… it was an evening one cannot express with words or with film… one that can only be recorded by memory. Kudu steaks, mealie pap, lovely fresh salads, malva pudding, red wine and Amarula… so much to enjoy and to savor. A night of happy hearts, fresh air, great food, excellent company and of course the most special of all – lots of beautiful African people!

I feel like these few words can’t quite do our 2 days at Madikwe justice but I hope that they instill in you – a wish to go there… one day, as you most certainly won’t be disappointed. A big thank you to Alan, Johan, Gerhard, Helen and the rest of the team for making our stay at Kopano an unforgettable one! We will be back… hopefully soon.

Now in its 7th year running the IT Leaders Africa Summit, South Africa’s most respected CIO event, will take place on the 15th and 16thMarch at Vodacom World in Johannesburg.

The IT landscape is swiftly evolving and continually facing disruptions which makes it incredibly difficult for CIOs, CTOs, Directors and Managers in the information technology space to keep up.The IT Leaders Africa Summit is a meeting place for IT and business leaders across all industries: FMCG, mining, manufacturing, finance, retail and many more. It is designed to provide attendees with the latest key insights, the tools needed to re-look at IT strategies, advice on how to update skill sets and the latest in trends and technologies.

“We are excited to host the 7th annual IT Leaders Africa Summit. With budget cuts looming and more pressure than ever on the IT leader to reduce overall costs and improve efficiency, the synergy between an IT head and the business is paramount. The summit is about building relationships, meeting industry peers and networking,” says Shannon Mackrill, Joint Managing Director, Kinetic.

The event will assist delegates to align IT with business priorities and provide the ideal setting for engagement, networking and relationship building with like-minded individuals in the African IT industry. The event will feature 40 high level speakers, 250 attendees and many blue chip sponsors. Keynote speeches, panel discussions and educational workshop sessions will be hosted by industry leaders that are shaping the IT landscape in South Africa and beyond.

“What really attracted me to the event is the industry nature of it and it really bringing together leaders from all over at an executive level, rather than a general level,” says Franz Hirschberg, IT Director, Pernod Ricard Sub Saharan Africa.

This year the agenda will focus on digital disruption and its impact on organisations, the evolution of technology, the effective management of data centres, cost reduction through the adoption of innovative technology and how to ensure a sustainable network.

The summit has appointed a brand new advisory panel that will guide and tailor the conversation. Advisory panel member and Group CIO for Sasol, Alec Joannou adds that the summit will address the most pressing IT related issues i.e.“What are the game changers for IM – mobility? Value analytics, security of information or all of the above?”

The advisory panel is made up of three of the most respected names in IT in Africa namely:

Tunde Coker, Managing Director, Rack Centre, who will look at cost reduction strategies and why it is vital for CIO’s to stick to budgets.

Cuan B Kloppers, CIO, Samancor Chrome Limited and Past Executive Chairman, AFSUG Board of Directors, who will examine the challenge of IT execution and how to keep up with the implementation of IT projects.

Alec Joannou, Group CIO, Sasol, who will look at transforming the IT department from a cost centre to a value add function.

Other leading speakers include:

Clive Donninger, CIO, Associated Motor Holdings, who will examine a case study looking at the CIO’s role in rolling out an ERP project across an organisation.

Peter du Plooy, CIO, Engen Oil, who will discuss the driving of growth and expansion in the IT function.

Antonio Raposo, CIO, Volkswagen who will explore the trends and game changers for mobility in Southern Africa.

Platinum sponsors include:


Hewlett-Packard (HP) South Africa delivers superior information technology infrastructure; personal computing; access devices; services; imaging, printing and networking infrastructure products.

Gold sponsors include:


CommScope (NASDAQ: COMM) helps companies around the world design, build and manage their wired and wireless networks.


SITA was established in 1999 to consolidate and coordinate the State’s information technology resources in order to achieve cost savings through scale, increased delivery capabilities and enhanced interoperability.


Mimecast’s security, archiving and continuity cloud services protect business email and deliver comprehensive email risk management in one fully integrated subscription service.


Perfomanta offers technology agnostic, bespoke turn-key support services that are uniquely tailored to meet the requirements of their clients, who currently extend across 5 continents with a reach of over 1.3 million users.


Forcepoint safeguards users, data and networks against the most determined adversaries, from accidental or malicious insider threats to outside attackers, across the entire threat lifecycle. Forcepoint protects data everywhere – in the cloud, on the road, in the office – simplifying compliance and enabling better decision-making to streamline security.

Other sponsors include: Sage evolution, Airwatch by VMware, EG Solutions, Sophos, Kofax, Ninzi-Connect,Forcepoint, Performanta and many more.

For more information about IT Leaders please contact: +27 (0) 21 180 4700

2nd Floor, Dean Street Arcade Dean Street, Newlands, Cape Town

Follow @ITLeadersAfrica on Twitter and join the conversation using the #ITLAfrica

One lone wildebeest wanders around snorting, cavorting and indulging in the odd blade of red grass. He’s skittish yet surprisingly feisty and fearless. He approaches the vehicle with a confident and somewhat rambunctious attitude. He’s the first, in fact, he’s winning the race. Perhaps not a race that you want to win though, when the closer you are to the front, the hungrier the crocodiles and other predators are!

Only a few minutes pass and slowly from the whistling thorns around him, his friends and compatriots emerge. It’s not long before the snorting takes over entirely and we can’t even hear ourselves think. We sit hidden in a clump of acacias a few hundred meters from the mighty Mara River… hoping against all hope… that today would be the day that we would witness a crossing!

More and more of them gather in loose yet visible batches of twenty or so. We watch a little more intently and quickly it becomes obvious. The batches of twenty are the females who are being unashamedly herded into smaller and smaller circles by the males performing some kind of protective dance. Sometimes referred to by the locals as the ‘Wildebeests Honeymoon,’ it’s mating season for these guys, and in a completely selfish manner they want to keep the best selection of females for themselves. They have no intentions of sharing and as a result fights break out between the males constantly. Horns raised they go full tilt at each other relentlessly. You can hear the horns crash together as they mark their territory and defend their rights to the ladies. Blissfully unaware of the bravado that is going on the females continue with their snacking, the suckling of their young and their general everyday grooming routines.

Despite all this swagger and chaos there is still a great sense of community among these animals, a sense of a common goal as they sluggishly but deliberately begin the journey from the Southern Serengeti up to the greener Mara in search of rain-ripened grass. Very quickly a sprinkling of these white bearded wildebeest becomes a sizable herd and soon the sea of green around us becomes one of black. Every now and then a few zebras join the party and even the odd Thompson’s gazelle or topi tags along.

We sat there for what seemed like hours watching the idiosyncrasies and interactions of these strange creatures. We even began to feel part of the herd and as if we should start heading north too. They would wander up to the river’s edge and we would think ‘they are going to cross… they are going to cross’ and then… they’d simply turn around wander back and continue eating, mating and frolicking.

In the words of the legendary Alex Walker, ‘they are so indecisive, they are like woman trying to get dressed before going out!” Ironically however, it is generally a leading lady who takes the first leap and then the rest follow like a herd of sheep. All it takes is for one to go and then the rest are like: ‘ok, ok… don’t leave me behind!’

You certainly have to be patient and you have to understand that when nature is putting on a show… it doesn’t do it to any sort of schedule. The sun had passed overhead and the heat was really starting to get stifling. When all of a sudden the silence was broken with a very frantic, crackled, ‘Wanaovuka… wanaovuka….’ Swahili for ‘they are crossing, they are crossing’ came bursting through the radio!

Our expert guide Lucas, sprung into gear and with great excitement drove us off road, at full speed, towards the edge of the river. Bumping around and holding on for dear life we lurched towards the edge peering over the scrub at every point to see if we could get a glimpse. Screeching to a halt we bundled out of the car, cameras in tow and sprinted down to the edge of the cliff.

And there it was… we had made it… we were witnessing it.

Disbelief overwhelmed us as we watched 5000 wildebeest scramble down the steep cliff and launch themselves into the muddy water with the utmost faith that they would make it to the other side. They swam in hoards, tenaciously fighting the current and climbing up the far bank to join their teammates in tangible jubilation. The noise is deafening, the panic palpable. It literally is survival of the fittest.

They just keep coming… and just keep swimming… you cannot believe how many there are and how determined they are to get to the other side. And then, to our absolute surprise some of them seem to have had enough of the other side already and despite all the perils of crossing and decide to come back! Logic has no place here but you still watch with awe. It can be scary and rather ‘touch and go’ at times as the little ones struggle against the current with each stroke… you watch them, holding your breath, and you will them to make it to the other side.

Twenty endless minutes passed and as the last lone male clambered out the other side we breathed out a sigh of relief. Thankfully for us, they had all made it and there were no casualties. Although it would have been exciting, I particularly, was rather relieved that the crocodiles had been a bit slow off the mark.

We had done it, we had witnessed the wonder of the great crossing and my goodness was it worth very second we had waited. From day one of our trip there had been an unspoken anticipation and excitement about whether or not we would be lucky enough to see one. You actually never know, that is the unpredictability of nature, and as a result the prize is even sweeter a gift that no one can ever take away from you. It’s Africa at its best, nature showing off and certainly something every human should witness.

The 5th Annual Customer Experience Management Africa Summit took place at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town on 17th and 18th of August 2016. 45 top level speakers, 29 sponsors and partners and over 440 professionals attended, making it Africa’s largest gathering of CX professionals.

“Digitally empowered customers have given rise to a new era, the age of the customer. This is forcing companies to become customer centric,” explained Qaalfa Dibeehi, VP Customer Experience Author, Forrester, in his opening address. Eddie Moyce, Former Chief Customer Experience Officer MTN, added, “if organisations don’t start looking after customers in the long-term, the business suffers. You need to get all employees on board with the simple fact that without customers, your business doesn’t exist.”

“Customer Experience Management has matured rapidly in South Africa and has become an inescapable, must-have for any company hoping to get ahead of the pack,” says Shannon Mackrill, Joint Managing Director of Kinetic. Here are three game-changers on how to get it right.

Human Interaction is Key

Qaalfa Dibeehi explored the value of customer experience in emerging markets. Due to the fact that Africa is an emerging market, the advantage is that we can learn from the developed markets. “Whether your business is B2B or B2C, every business is in fact, person to person,” said Qaalfa Dibeehi. Care, empathy and authenticity have become the new currency. “The organisations that do really well do not care what their competitors do, they obsess about their customers,” added Chantel Botha, Head of Brand Design and Customer Experience Strategy, Brandlove.

The Rise of the Experience Economy

Craig Lee, Former Executive Customer Experience and Brand Manager, Emirates Group, explored how to deliver connected authentic, branded and purposefully designed customer experience. In his introduction, he highlighted two key insights: a) 55% of customers are prepared to pay more for a guaranteed good experience and b) 87% of consumers who switched brands did so because of poor service. This explains the rise of the experience economy and the fact that “brands who are delivering an experience as well as a product are the top brands today,”explained Craig Lee. “Customer experience leaders with purposefully designed customer experience out-perform other brands financially by 43%.”

The Need for Transformation

The only way to achieve this is through complete transformation, throughout an organisation. Goldermier Opiyo, Head of Contact Centre Operations, Safaricom Ltd, Kenya, addressed how to achieve customer experience execution with excellence. “It is imperative to set the foundation for sustainable customer experience, “ highlighted Goldermier Opiyo. “We need to bring the customer into the boardroom to ensure that the customer’s voice is heard on a daily basis.” The reality is that “a brand is only what consumers tell each other it is,” concluded Craig Lee. “This responsibility is therefore too important to be left to the customer experience department alone, it needs to be bought into by the whole company.”

The event kicked off in style at the state-of-the-art Century City Convention centre. With Nespresso on offer, delectable eats, a high-tech registration system, innovative master classes, an impressive speaker. A surprise performance by Singer Songwriter, Jimmy Nevis, the announcement of the CX Awards 2017 and a jovial cocktail party were exciting additions to the event.

“Kinetic relishes the opportunity to map the growth of Customer Experience Management on the continent, through a Summit that directly echoes the proliferation of the industry,” concludes Shannon Mackrill, Joint Managing Director of Kinetic.

For more information about CEM please contact: +27 (0) 21 180 4700

2nd Floor, Dean Street Arcade, Dean Street, Newlands, Cape Town

Follow @CEMAfricaSummit on Twitter and join the conversation using #CEMAfrica

Last weekend the Iconic Africa team was treated to an exclusive weekend at Tswalu. And wow… was it incredible! Definitely a destination for the bucket-list and one that will never be forgotten!

From the minute we were collected from the airport and taken to the incredible Fireblade Aviation airport hangar/luxurious waiting area we felt like kings. The hangar was complete not only with all the refreshments one could imagine but also filled with contemporary art pieces, a spa, resting room, conference room – the works! Nettie the manager and Lyton (our personal butler) made sure we were very well looked after while waiting to board the charter flight to Tswalu.

The charter flight was pleasant and quick, in fact, in just over an hour we had touched down and and were standing on the bright red sand with the magic of the Kalahari unfolding around us. Immediately your breath is taken away as the vast extent of land and space is truly overwhelming.

Tswalu is 100,000 ha (240,000 acres) of pristine Kalahari wilderness. Owned by the Oppenheimer family, this is the largest private game reserve in southern Africa and bares testament to the family’s commitment to authentic conservation and opulent luxury.

After more refreshments we were whisked off in our open-top safari vehicle to an exquisite viewing point where a lavish lunch and a ice-cold G and T was awaiting us. From the high vantage point of the viewing deck we could not only see the great plains of the Kalahari rolling on but also herds of wildebeest, buffalo, oryx, tsebebe and majestic sable antelope. The colors and shapes make you want to take out your paintbrush and immediately paint the beauty that surrounds you. An epic combination of rolling dunes, silver clusters, camel thorns and long Savannah grasses!

Over a lovely lunch of kudu steaks, chicken kebabs, chakalaka, mealies, fresh salads and a to-die-for amarula milk tart our affable guide Richard, took us through the history and the geography of the reserve. In 1998, after decades of bad farming practice the Oppenheimers took over the reserve and committed to return it to its former beauty and preserve all that grows from and walked on the land – a feat which they must be highly commended on.

We were then taken to our exquisite 5 Star accommodation at Motse Lodge. The lodge rests at the foot of the Korannaberg mountains with views of the Kalahari plains stretching out endlessly to the west. The expansive decking, sumptuous lounge and well-stocked mezzanine library offer spaces for quiet contemplation and reading after a day out in the wild. The large infinity pool is an excellent spot to kick-back and relax in the midday sun while the drama of the Kalahari unfolds all around.

On walking into our suite we felt immediately at home. Open, spacious, inviting and warm,its deep colors reflect the beauty of the unique wilderness outside. The over-sized bed, luscious linen and hearty fireplace most definitely make for an extra-special nights sleep. From robes, to wraps for the pool, torches, safari books, wines and sweet treats they really have thought of everything that you could possibly need. Your private balcony is complete with the perfect stargazing couch , candles, board games and if you are lucky you may even find a bush-buck or nyala grazing on your doorstep.

My absolute highlight was the game drives as although I am well-travelled in Africa I don’t think I have ever seen such incredible game in such a short space of time. The power combination of Richard (guide) and Simpiwe (tracker) was ruthlessly efficient! You literally don’t go longer than a few minutes without seeing something… and seeing lots of it. Numbers are certainly not short in the Kalahari as are animals that are rare or sadly even endangered in other areas.

In just 2 game drives our top ten sightings were the following:

  • A cheetah playing with her 3 cubs
  • A pack of wild dog tearing up and fighting over the remains of a warthog
  • 10 kalahari lion cubs lazing in the midday sun
  • An aardvark (very very rare in fact John (Founder of Iconic Africa) is very jealous that I have seen one before him)
  • Herds and herds of sable (also very rare)
  • Wild dog chasing a jackal
  • Bat eared foxes
  • Meerkats building their burrow
  • Hartmans Mountain Zebra
  • Red Hartebeest (also a first for me)

After a chart-topping sunset G and T on a dune and an intriguing lesson the stars we headed back to the lodge for dinner.

Dinner was even better than lunch as the staff had prepared a mouth-watering tasting menu: Pea soup, ratatouille braised kingklip, springbok loin, mushroom risotto and to end off a chai spiced pannacotta. Each course was expertly paired with some of South Africa’s flagship wines. The service was impeccable and intimate with most of the staff having been at the lodge for 15-20 years… Denzil, Wendy and Rachel all had smiles that warm your heart and were a treat to chat to!

Make sure to take some time before you go to bed… to go out onto your private balcony with a glass of wine or a whiskey and take in the wonder that is the African night sky. The milky way, star clusters and endless shooting stars are not to be missed.

We were woken before the sun but to help ease into the day the game vehicle was complete with steaming hot water bottles, big blankets and mocha-choca-rula’s (a delicious coffee, chocolate, amarula combination!) As the sun comes up it warms you from the inside out and it’s food for the soul like no other. We left the reserve very reluctantly feeling both alive and rejuvenated but also sad as we really didn’t want to leave.

A huge thank you to Russel, Jeanine, Courtney , Lindsey, Danie, Rachel, Nicky, Richard, Simpiwe, Danie, Ilze, Wendy, Denzil for treating us to a once-in-a-lifetime weekend at Tswalu.

For more on this divine destination go to

Beat the Price, South Africa’s innovative online marketplace for new vehicle sales

Only five months after its inception in Cape Town, Beat the Price is set to become a game-changer for the way we buy and sell new cars.

“Where you can’t compare like-for-like with used cars, you certainly can with new cars,” says Marius du Toit, MD of Beat the Price.

The platform has an alliance with dealers, allowing them to bid on a deal, ensuring that the customer gets the best possible price. “It’s simple – you tell us which car you want, where you want it delivered and we find you the best price. No fees and no commitments,” adds du Toit. With 26 years in the industry, du Toit has worked for and started many dealerships. He recognized that it was becoming increasingly difficult to buy new cars for a good price and that buyers were completely at the mercy of dealership prices.

Beat the Price collects requests for new vehicles from buyers and sends these requests through to dealerships, allowing them to bid for the sale with their best price. “By opening an enquiry to the whole country, you could get a dealer in Bedfordview that has a stock unit that is priced lower than the same vehicle in Sandton,” says du Toit.

Beat the Price significantly streamlines the normal negotiation process, for both buyers and dealers. “Rather than forcing people to phone around and get dealers to manually bid for a sale, our platform automates the bidding process. This saves both buyers and dealers time and money,” says du Toit.

“By keeping the process confidential, Beat the Price ensures that buyers are not bothered by multiple dealers phoning them directly,” continues du Toit. This is ideal for more inexperienced buyers who don’t like having to negotiate in person. “With buyers we have established a very personal process, ensuring that we completely understand their needs,” explains du Toit.

At the end of each bidding process, Beat the Price puts the winning dealer in contact with the buyer. “Our buyers sign all the normal contracts with the winning dealer, so they are covered and supported by the dealer as per normal,” says du Toit.

The platform is already saving customers thousands on new vehicles. “Our best deal, so far, had 27 bids on a single vehicle,” says du Toit. “Very few buyers would have the confidence or the patience to manually negotiate 27 times on a single vehicle.”

Beat the Price intends to disrupt the status quo and is already doing so. “The dealerships say that Beat the Price is giving them leads that they wouldn’t have previously been aware of,” says du Toit. “By selling more vehicles, dealers lower their costs of holding stock, and actually increase their profits!” For those with excess stock this really is a win-win situation.

New dealers throughout South Africa are signing up on a daily basis. Through helping one consumer and dealer at a time, Beat the Price aims to change the face of new car sales in South Africa.


Beat The Price is an online marketplace for new vehicle sales in South Africa. For consumers click here, for dealerships click here.

Cape Town – Uber happened because its founders were willing to question the status quo.

“We believe in the point where supply meets demand. We see this happening in cities where Uber operates,” Alon Lits, general manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Uber, told delegates at the recent eCommerce MoneyAfrica Conference in Cape Town.

“Through price cuts we saw our earnings increase due to the higher demand. New York City is one such example.”

As for protests against Uber, Lits said Uber would actually like to see how Uber drivers and traditional taxis could co-exist. In South Africa, for instance, he sees more and more traditional taxi drivers who supplement their income by being Uber drivers during their downtime.

Another trend he sees in SA is that Uber services areas that traditional taxis have not covered in the past.

If you are not thinking of disrupting your [business model], someone else is. This disruption never ends.

Velma Corcoran, general director of Airbnb in South Africa, said the company is reinventing travel in Africa. Currently there are about 3 million homes in more than 190 countries listed on Airbnb. On average about a million people stay in an Airbnb each night and the current record is more than 2 million people who stayed in Airbnbs on New Year’s Eve 2016.

“We are all about delivering authentic travel experiences and all our innovations are app based.”

Regarding the impact of Airbnb in Africa, Corcoran said it is about taking tourism to communities. About 27% of the Airbnb guests in Africa indicated that they would not have visited the continent if it was not for Airbnb.

She provided examples of how Airbnb enabled people in Africa to become empowered entrepreneurs in the tourism industry.

James McCormick, principal analyst, customer rights at Forrester, spoke about digital intelligence.

He explained that digital intelligence is about technology management in a holistic sense in order to deliver the right service.

“It is an insights driven strategy that will keep you up to date with your customers. In the digital age the customer can decide when and how and to what extent he wants to interact with you,” said McCormick.

“Companies should use data to drive action. To digitally compete data must, however, be turned into action. Insights driven firms are faster and fleeter than the rest.”

He warned that companies will have to be insights driven by 2020 or they might as well pack up now already. Insights driven businesses use digital intelligence to engage with customers. They innovate and optimize continuously.

Despite the fact that rand strength may persist into the new year. Memories of Nenegate and its catastrophic impact on the currency fade slightly when one considers that the rand (compared to the dollar) has had a stellar year thus far – it is the best performing emerging market currency over the past six months, and comes in at third position for the year to date, after Brazil and Russia.

By the market close on Friday the rand had bounced back from the critical support level of R13.60 (where it was flirting with the next support level of R13.54) to R13.81, on the back of Trump optimism.

The USDZAR has range-traded since August, Nedbank Capital’s Mohammed Nalla said in a note last week. “Geopolitical tensions, local social unrest and local political events have resulted in interim periods of sell-offs, to peak between R14.50/$ and R14.70/$. These levels will likely act as interim support for the rand.”

The rand has tested the R13.25 level three times this year, and although it has bounced back up each time, the more times a technical level is tested, the greater the possibility for a break of the level, Nalla says. A break could propel the USDZAR to the R13.00/$ and R12.85/$ marks.

The trend has been broadly appreciating since January when it hit R16.85 to the dollar. At this point it was considered undervalued. “Last year we faced a perfect storm with local politics (Nenegate) intersecting with fears about weak global growth and a hard landing in China,” says John Orford, portfolio manager at Old Mutual Macro Solutions. “We are still on the cheaper side of the long run trend in the rand.”

While there has been volatility around risk events and South African politics, if the trend continues, the rand could gain further, he adds.

In the rand’s favor is the fact that global growth has been improving since February this year with indicators like manufacturing PMI moving from contraction to expansion territory in many countries around the world. With this commodity prices are improving and if the agreed-upon oil cutbacks hold, the oil price will also rise. Markets have also relaxed since Trump’s victory, with analysts now anticipating fiscal stimulus (tax cuts and infrastructure spending), rather than trade wars. “We may be entering a better period for global growth,” Orford says.

Locally economic fundamentals are also rand supportive. The current account deficit has narrowed as imports have slowed and exports have done better on the back of improved commodity pricing. As a result South Africa’s terms of trade are improving – which means in effect that the country is becoming (marginally) wealthier. This is rand supportive. Another positive, Orford says, is that inflation has peaked and should come down in 2017.

Risks include domestic politics, which is a key driver of the rand. “All we know is that Zuma appears to be reined in every time he goes on the offensive and that in December next year the ANC will appoint a new leader.

Another risk is that growth in the US accelerates forcing the US Fed to push up rates faster than anticipated. This will ensure the dollar appreciates faster than imagined.

With these factors in mind, South African importers and exporters with open exposures into 2017 should lock down those exposures and try to capitalize on relative currency strength, says Richard Beddow, founder and MD of Forex People, which facilitates forex transactions for SMEs. “Importers may be tempted to take their chances buying their FX at the prevailing spot rate rather than paying a slight premium for flexible forward cover. Relying on the spot rate could be commercial suicide – even if you have negotiated favorable payment terms. A swing the wrong way in the rand will devastate margins because the local market will not budge off the rand price that was agreed upon with the importer. Suppliers have no fat in their margins to absorb a wild swing in the rand,” he says.

Rand strength aside, volatility will be the order of the day in 2017. “This is being described as the ultimate year of living dangerously. We sidestepped the rerating and have simply kicked the can down the road,” says Beddow. “Our economy is predicted to grow at 0.5% next year, ensuring another tough year economically. Political events will dominate the news as we head towards the ANC conference in December 2017. Growth and political stability are the two issues that the ratings agencies watch,” he says.

While exporters typically make hay when the rand is weak, they can also take advantage of forward cover by fixing the rate for future FX income. This usually earns them a premium on the current spot rate. “I’m always amazed at how few exporters know that they can sell forward,” says Beddow. “The problem is the quality of advice small business gets from the banks is often not very good and they get sold very rigid forward contracts that do not take their individual circumstances into account.”

2017 is not a year importers want to play games with the currency or take their chances with spot market. “We don’t know where it is going, but we know it’s going to be very volatile.”

We all know the term “honeymoon” and what that entails… but this isn’t the only “moon” that one can look forward to. Now becoming an increasing popular activity amongst expectant parents is what has been termed a “babymoon.” And from my experience… this is definitely something worth investigating especially if you can do a once-in-a-lifetime African safari, and head off into the sunset… a last adventure as two! There really is nothing better.

My husband, our ever-growing baby bump and I set off to Marataba for this very reason, in excited anticipation – but with no idea of the incredible experience that awaited us there.

Marataba is located 4 hours North-West of Johannesburg in a malaria-free zone, very important if you are pregnant. It’s only a short/drive or flight away so perfect for even just a couple of nights or as part of a greater South African holiday.

We arrived at the lodge, to be greeted by heart-warming African, smiles, enchanting staff and refreshing beverages. From the moment you step foot into the lodge the view and the vista of the exquisite Waterberg Mountains in the distance transfix you. It is at this point that Africa starts, refilling, rejuvenating and inspiring your soul!

The tented suites are all completely private, perfectly appointed and expertly designed to make you feel like you have your very own piece of African paradise to yourselves. The lavish bath, breath-taking outside shower and over-sized bed fitted with only the finest linen, makes you feel like King and Queen.

Every meal is prepared with the utmost care and attention. Whether it’s the kudu loin, the butternut soup, the steamy oxtail or the delicious teatime brownies… you can’t help but ask for more! The service is absolutely outstanding and cannot be faulted. Each member of staff, whether it’s a waiter, game guide or your very own butler acts as your host and does everything possible to make your stay more enjoyable. They really do take “going above and beyond” to a whole other level. From special romantic turn-downs, to hot bubble baths, to complimentary massages, to surprise lantern-lit boma dinners, to non-alcoholic champagne on the sunset boat cruise and so much more. The staff at Marataba surprised and delighted us, every moment of our stay there. Having only been there 2 days – we left feeling as if we were leaving family behind.

The bushveld at Marataba was lush and green and the game abundant. In only 2 days we had some incredible encounters with Africa’s most iconic wildlife. Here’s just a brief snapshot of what we came across: a leopard hunting at dusk, lions feeding on a kudu, white rhinos grazing, elephants drinking at the waterhole, hippos lazing in the river, buffalo feeding in the riverbed… and so much more. Not to mention the smaller wonders, the birds… from red and yellow-billed hornbills, to grey go away birds, to crimson breasted shrikes, to woodland and malachite kingfishers, to paradise flycatchers and whydahs… the list is endless.

Whether it was watching the sun turn the Waterberg Mountain range pink at sunset, enjoying a lantern-lit meal under the stars, a rock shandy by the pool or a steamy hot amarula coffee at the waterhole… our two days at Marataba were filled with epic and memorable moments. So much so, that if felt like we’d been there for at least a week!

We left feeling inspired, overjoyed, overflowing with a love for the African bush and the incredible intricacies with which our world is made, an appreciation for our beautiful country and it’s people and lastly an excitement for what the future holds for us. Now we just can’t wait until we can come back as three and show our little one what an exceptional continent we live on and to teach him/her all that there is to know about nature, wildlife and how everything has it’s place in the world.

A massive thank you to the More Group and specifically to Clive, Ralf, Nadea, Kabelo and the rest of the team for spoiling us so. More hospitality – really is on another level… you really and truly do create to inspire! We can’t wait to return and will be back soon.


Wahi plans to change the accepted status quo of South Africa’s self-storage industry, giving every South African the opportunity to become an earner/entrepreneur.

If you want to rent storage space and parking from your neighbors, now you can through Wahi, a South African startup that connects the owners of spare space to the people who need space.

Wahi provides access to hundreds of short or long-term self-storage solutions near you at a click of a button.

The start-up operates a competitive marketplace that enables you to compare and access the best rates.

You can earn money by renting out your garage or parking space for free on “a safe and convenient” peer-to-peer marketplace, where hosts offer space and renters find space – both commercial and residential.

According to the start-up, Wahi means “get” in Swahili and “space” in Maori – two concepts that underpin the basis of our business.

Wahi plans to change the accepted status quo of South Africa’s self-storage industry, giving every South African the opportunity to become an earner/entrepreneur.

Together they have a wealth of experience in private equity, tech, and software development. Founded in 2016, Wahi aims to help people to find and offer storage space.

By using technology to connect the owners of space to the people who need space, Wahi aims to transform the traditional self-storage industry.

Compared to traditional storage facilities, how much money can you save on storage costs by using Wahi?

The company says it depends on the space rented, you can potentially save half of what you may pay elsewhere. It added that rates will vary and are set by hosts (based on its recommend benchmarks), which are typically set at up to 50% discount to traditional storage rates.

“That means that you could save thousands of rands over the course of your storage period, and store your items in a more convenient location in your local neighborhood,” said the company.

Wahi makes money through charging a service fee to renters.

The effective 17.5% service fee (15% payable by renters and 2.5% payable by hosts) is how Wahi makes money, and covers its costs.

Wahi is a great way for hosts to monetize their extra space and renters to save money.

Africa’s leading eCommerce event, dedicated to all aspects of selling online is set to double in size, in only its second year running. The eCommerce Africa Confex takes place 17 – 18 February 2016 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

With eCommerce forecasted to grow by 40% annually, the two-day conference is designed to introduce the latest trends, technologies and industry developments and to facilitate networking, education and inspiration for eCommerce leaders and peers.

“This event is a great place for people in the industry to learn about trends and to meet peers,” says Emilian Popa, Principle, Digital Growth Africa & Middle East.

Following the success of the first eCommerce Africa Confex in 2015 where more than 800 attendees came from all over Africa: Nigeria, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The eCommerce Africa Confex will showcase over 50 solution providers and bring together the regions’ leading merchants, major retailers, brands, developers, designers and eCommerce experts. It welcomes business owners, directors and CEOs as well as managers involved in marketing, merchandising, customer service, operations and supply chain management.

The event will feature over 65 speakers, keynotes, panel discussions, technical demonstrations, networking opportunities, cocktail functions and an exhibition showcase; all hosted by industry leaders.

Terry Southam, Managing Director of Kinetic Events, the organizers of the eCommerce Africa Confex adds, “we have an exciting”color: black;” Emilian Popa, Principle of Digital Growth Africa & Middle East, who will discuss the macro-level of the industry and how it has evolved from 2015-2016.

Joe Falter, CEO and Founder,, who will examine the Hellofoods journey as a case study in overcoming the obstacles in a new territory.

This year the agenda will focus on four key themes: the e-volution of e-commerce, understanding the customer, the three P’s of eCommerce: Payments, Protection and Processes, and agile omni-channel eCommerce.

Platinum Sponsors include:

Oracle Marketing Cloud

Keynote Speaker: Claudia Foster, Senior Strategic Solutions Consultant.

Topic: Placing your Customer in the Centre of an Omni-Channel World.

IBM Marketing Cloud

The IBM Marketing Cloud enables the delivery of exceptional experiences for customers across the entire buyer journey by leveraging customer data, providing analytical insights and automating cross channel interactions. The IBM Marketing Cloud is part of IBM Marketing Solutions. IBM Marketing Solutions make it easier to design meaningful customer experiences across applications, devices and time to accelerate today’s results and tomorrow’s ambitions.

Gold Sponsors include:


Keynote Speaker: Dirk Henke, Managing Director Emerging Markets.

Topic: Marketing in a World of Mobile Commerce.

FNB/Paypal (co-sponsors)

Keynote Speaker: Efi Dahan, Regional Director Africa and Israel, Paypal.

Topic: Around the World in Just a Few Clicks.


Technical Demonstration: Introducing PayU’s New Consumer Offering

Presented by: Francois Perry, Product Manager.

Technical Demonstration: PayU is leading eCommerce with Online Services

Presented by: Charles Elliman, Head of Sales.

Keynote Speaker: Mel Gischen, Head of Marketing MEA.

Topic: The Utility of Mobile Wallets in South Africa

One World

Panel Discussion: Agile Payments: Overcoming the Challenges and Creating an Effective Payment System

Speaker: Atul Bhakta, Managing Director.

Other sponsors include: dpd Laser, Parcel Ninja, Vizury, Vinculum and iVend.

Exhibitors include: Zapper, CourierIT, Volive, iGroup, On The Dot, Nedbank, Ram, True ERP, Amadeus, ID, Epi, Layby Café, Thisisme, Fontera, Payfast, Net Media Planet, Ameyo, Mimecast, FSS, What3words, Zensar, Sage and many more.

For more information about the eCommerce Africa Confex please contact:

+27 (0) 21 180 4700

2nd Floor, Dean Street Arcade Dean Street, Newlands, Cape Town

Follow @eCommerceConfex on Twitter and join the conversation using the #eComConfex hashtag.

Magnetic is proud to announce that it has recently won iProspect and Isobar and has officially been appointed as their management platform of choice.

This is a sizeable win for Magnetic as these agencies are two of the global Dentsu Aegis Network’s six brands. The two agencies have entrusted Magnetic with the management and functionality of their new business development, project & task management, resource allocation, time tracking, billing and other regular daily tasks. The announcement follows a six-month trial stage and an intense two-month pitch against two other companies, which closed in early 2016.

Korak Kuhnert (CTO) first developed Magnetic in 2010. Jan Pickard (CPO) and Dan Marcus (CEO) invested and joined the daily operations in 2012 and 2013 respectively. This all-in-one, intuitive, lightning-fast, project management solution uses only the latest technology. It allows clients to house all their information under one roof, accessible at the click of a button. The company experienced 400% growth in 2014, doubled its revenue in 2015 and today has over two hundred clients (three thousand plus seats) across South Africa.

The Isobar and iProspect wins follow a particularly eventful acquisition period for Magnetic with other recent client wins including: Hero Advertising, Artifact, Titan Digital, Primedia, Leads Machine, Creative Spark and Design Partnership in South Africa. Magnetic has also secured clients in the UK and USA, expanding into both of these areas.

“We needed to find a way to track multiple aspects of our business and operate in an agile way so that tasks could easily be shifted across offices in two different locations. Since we have adopted the Magnetic system, there is transparency across all departments and accounts within our agency. Senior stakeholders are able to get an overview of risks as well as opportunities at a glance. Now that our financial system has been fully integrated, we will be able to monitor and report on financials versus the real-time scenario. This will fundamentally change our business approach from reactive to proactive,” says Tanja Gschliesser, General Manager, Isobar.

To date, Magnetic has serviced only iProspect and Isobar South Africa, but is currently also training the teams at Isobar Nigeria and Kenya and will continue to grow throughout the network as and when required. These are certainly two of Magnetic’s bigger account wins and the company is determined to nurture and develop both partnerships. Magnetic is currently up-staffing and constantly innovating to guarantee them the best possible service delivery as well as the rest of its rapidly growing client base.

“These wins really put us on the map in the agency space. Until now we have only worked with independent agencies, small and large. Closing a large portion of a global network agency gives us huge credibility in the space. It has already opened up massive doors for us into other independent agencies and some of the world’s largest global network agencies, which we are now in the final stages of closing,” concludes Magnetic CEO, Dan Marcus.

Our most recent trip to East Africa was not only an action-packed adventure but also incredible food for the soul. It reminded me of just how powerful and magical Africa is and what it can do for you both inside and out.

So much of the first world and what we believe is normal life is left behind when you go to Africa.

Time becomes irrelevant, phones and communication impossible, consumerism no longer and worries a distant thing of the past.

Embraced entirely in the present, you are able to fully appreciate everything about that very moment. Sights become brighter, sounds louder, smells more intense, and feelings more honest and accessible.

Life as you know it begins to fade away. Your heart slows down to the beat of the bushveld; your shoulders feel light and your laughter unbridled.

A transformation is happening as you slowly unravel and join the peace and the pace of the exquisite creatures we share this earth with.

You rise and fall with the sun, beginning and ending each day with awe and appreciation.

In between this, you are entirely enamoured by nature, its wonders, intricacies and surprises. From the habits of a herd of elephants, to the quirky determination of the wildebeest, to the focus and agility of the pied kingfisher, to the mating habits of the crowned cranes…there is so much to take in.

You breathe out, your eyes are open and focussed on the landscape around you, your ears listening intently and your mind free.

It is impossible to take it all in but you make a concerted effort to be fully present; to be fully available to enjoy every minute of what Africa has in store for you.

There is so much the bush can teach you, so much goodness, so many life lessons and behaviors that you can take home with you.

Let it fill your heart and soul. Let it complete you, one sighting, one story and one sundowner at a time.

Stop thinking I should go to Africa one day or I’d love to go back. It’s more than just an item on your bucketlist it’s a life changing experience and you won’t ever regret it.

Africa is here waiting for you and it will make you feel more alive than you ever thought possible.