WEF New Champions chapter launched in South Africa

19th August 2021 By: Donna Slater - Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) New Champions chapter in South Africa was launched on August 19 by Risk Insights – a WEF New Champions member and New Champions Award for Excellence in Agile Governance 2020 winner – and its strategic partners, Imperial Logistics and Instinctif Partners.

The initiative forms part of the WEF’s New Champions community, which mobilises and capacitates invested corporate leaders from mid-sized companies to improve the state of the world.

New Champions South Africa will focus on strengthening members’ decision-making and performance by leveraging its network and insights to help them create impact through innovative, collaborative solutions.

The WEF describes New Champions companies as being dynamic, high-growth companies that are championing new business models, emerging technologies and sustainable growth strategies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Imperial corporate affairs and investor relations executive VP and WEF New Champions South Africa chapter co-chairperson Esha Mansingh says that, with stakeholders’ expectations fundamentally shifting towards purpose-driven, environmental, social and governance (ESG) imperatives, New Champions highlights the urgent need for active, conscious and urgent leadership in South Africa.

She says such companies are those with the will and ability to deliver meaningful change through deliberate and value-enhancing social and environmental initiatives. “This is how we will help in building back better for South Africa and position our country for improved social inclusivity and climate conscious growth.”

Mansingh adds that this is the foundational premise of the WEF New Champions chapter in South Africa and a key strategic focus for Imperial.

Risk Insights principal and interim CEO, and WEF New Champions SA South Africa chapter co-chairperson Andrey Bogdanov adds that, in the spirit of “building back better”, New Champions South Africa will focus on addressing key inhibiters to growth and sustainability for small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs).

“We aim to provide access to innovations and solutions that unlock SMME potential so these organisations can, in turn, help grow the greater South African economy. In today's rapidly changing business climate, attention to ESG issues is becoming critical to long-term competitive success,” he says.


The purpose of the New Champions South African chapter is to initially champion and support SMME growth and development in South Africa through targeted projects. This will be achieved by collaborating with New Champions members and strategic partners to create more inclusive economies.

The advent of accelerating stakeholder capitalism, both from a social and climate change perspective, and the impact this has on people, organisations and administrations, has exacerbated the need for collaboration and the aggregation of resources to achieve positive outcomes in fractured environments.

In this regard, the New Champions local chapter echoes the mandate of South Africa’s own Thuma Mina call to action by providing a platform through which corporates can work together to build a better South Africa for all.

This is facilitated through access to the intelligence and networks that help turn challenges into opportunities, and struggling concerns into thriving, sustainable, contributing enterprises.

Instinctif Partners CEO and New Champions South Africa chapter board member Deanne Chatterton says before the Covid-19 pandemic, it became notable that there were segments of society taking action, led by innovators such as The Gambia’s Fatou Jeng and Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.

However, she says the “awakening” to the inter-connection of all the world's systems has been highlighted starkly by Covid-19. “Investors took notice, and expectations have shifted from ticking the right boxes, to having a clear and authentic purpose.”

As such, Chatterton says stakeholders are expecting to see measurable impact, driven by meaningful action; words are no longer enough. New Champions members are uniquely positioned to contribute authentically to amplifying global and local demand for a more conscious approach to sustainable development and ESG.”