Johannesburg, 20 June 2016 – As the year progresses, Riversands Incubation Hub continues to sign up new, exciting SMEs on its campus. It recently welcomed ten small businesses into its premises, with more expected to move in during the coming months – a clear indication that the business incubator’s vision of being home to more than 150 SMEs is being realised.
While it’s particularly exciting that a number of the small businesses are run by young ambitious people, equally exciting is the fact that Riversands now has a wider spread of industries represented when it comes to entrepreneurs in its premises. There are businesses from sectors such as Vegetation Management, Environmental Sustainability, Civil Engineering, Information Technology, and Agriculture. This means there are exciting opportunities for like-minded organisations to partner with the incubator and its SMEs. In addition, this presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to network with each other as they pursue their entrepreneurial journeys.
One of the new companies that recently moved in is Africommunications Group (ACG) – the fourth company in the Media and Communications space to join Riversands after HM Media, Nunnovation and Gogoro Communications. Riversands spoke with one of the co-founders, Mimi Kalinda to find out more about the company, why they moved into Riversands, their future plans and much more.
Riversands: If you were to sum up in one or two sentences what ACG does, what would you say?
Mimi Kalinda: ACG is a pan-African communications company. We focus on reputation management, public relations and branding.
Riversands: When was ACG established/who are the founders?
Mimi Kalinda: ACG was founded by Mimi Kalinda and Addis Alemayehou in 2015.
Riversands: Can you tell me more about your background, for example where you studied and worked before starting ACG?
Mimi Kalinda: I have a content creation and production background. Prior to starting ACG, I was Africa Lead for FleishmanHillard and before that, I worked for Weber Shandwick, both global PR firms. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from New York University.
Riversands: Why did you take the entrepreneurial route?
Mimi Kalinda: We identified a gap in the PR landscape: Culturally-attuned communications that speaks to African stakeholders in a language they can understand. We believe communication needs to be specifically tailored to the audience and take into account aspects such as religion, gender, country of origin, socio-economic status etc. Global PR firms mostly execute blanket strategies that are replicable. We mine insights about our audiences to ensure our client’s messages are heard on both an emotional and intellectual level.
Riversands: Is there a story behind the name Africommunications Group?
Mimi Kalinda: Not really. Our name just says what we do: W=we know and understand Africa, we live and travel on the continent, and we are best placed to communicate to Africans on behalf of our clients.
Riversands: Please list all the services you offer or what you specialise in?
- Press release writing and distribution;
- Media relations;
- Spokesperson positioning and thought leadership;
- On-line and off-line tracking and monitoring;
- Socio-political, economic and cultural community mapping and insights;
- Stakeholder mapping and engagement;
- Consumer market research;
- Spokesperson training;
- Digital development and social media community management;
- Video and audio production;
- Story mining;
- Collateral development: e.g. infographics, brochures, one-pagers, banners;
- CSR strategy development;
- Measuring and evaluation of impact; and
Riversands: Who is your target market? Or what type of people do you cater to?
Mimi Kalinda: We cater mostly to private sector and non-profit organisations, both African and global, who want to engage with specific stakeholders across the continent. We sometimes work on individual reputation campaigns but it is not our main scope of work.
Riversands: What sets ACG apart? What makes you unique?
Mimi Kalinda: We know Africa. We live here, work here and travel across the continent. We understand the dynamics of the continent. We also have a large network of affiliates, partners and friends in Africa, which allows us to seamlessly execute on our clients’ mandates.
Riversands: Why did you decide to move into Riversands?
Mimi Kalinda: We wanted to be around like-minded people – other entrepreneurs with a fiercely independent spirit who believe they can build impactful, successful companies. As a small business, Riversands also offers us access to an environment where we can keep our overheads low and focus on growing a sustainable business.
Riversands: What kind of impact do you hope moving into Riversands will have on your company?
Mimi Kalinda: We hope moving into Riversands will provide us increased access to a network, ideas, compelling conversations and the financial flexibility to be able to offer the best service we can to our clients. We want to grow our firm and Riversands will surely provide us with an enabling environment to do that.
Riversands: Going forward, what are you hoping to achieve as an organisation?
Mimi Kalinda: We are working on growing our client base as well as our footprint across Africa. We are currently the first and only African-owned pan-African PR firm in Africa and we want to take it all the way.
Riversands: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Mimi Kalinda: Being a part and contributing to the “Africa Rising” narrative is a matter of identifying gaps, innovating and tirelessly delivering on expectations. It also means living up to international standards of doing business. We are not just a good “African” PR firm. We are a great PR firm, period. We just happen to be African.
By Simangele Mzizi