This article, you can call it a tribute to Clean City Africa for the partnership with Harare City Council to become the refuse collector in Harare. Very rarely do we associate brands with terms like savior but I felt compelled to write about how ingraining and inculcating brand purpose often leads to success. The story of Clean City is the perfect representation and embodiment of a brand formed, established to serve a purpose and stand for a cause or ideal. One of my mentors Juliet Ziswa has written extensively about the subject of brands with a purpose, you can read more about it here.
The notion of brands standing for a cause is one that was always or probably still remote in our local market. Local brands have undoubtedly stood up and supported causes (for example Stanbic and Zimplats supporting people with albinisim) but their efforts have mainly been limited to donations, partnership agreements among other arrangements. The Clean City brand DNA and essence is centered around a social cause, an ideal rooted in solving community challenges; were other brands identified a social cause to support, Clean City was birthed out of a cause! and this is quite remarkable. The partnership between Harare City Council and Clean City is one but to buttress the idea and cause (cleanliness and environmental sustainability) of the brand thus we applaud the team at Clean City for coming in and becoming the savior we have been waiting for.
What makes the Clean City story even more impressive is the broad based nature of their business model which seeks to empower communities and also the infusion of digital technologies. They have managed to create a business model which leverages technology as as key lever for broad based social impact initiatives. My love for the brand is premised on the ideals which Clean City stand for “A healthier and safer environment for all” thus culminating in them becoming the refuse collector in our suburbs, cleaning dumpsites among other noble initiatives. Clean City is also involved in creating clean energy and that is a story for another day.
The success story of Clean City brand should serve as an encouragement for other brands to adopt a similar model in their social responsibility efforts. Lessons can be drawn on how to create a business out of a mess, instead of just supporting causes, intrapreneurs should think of how to create a brand out of any CSI initiative they are into. I have written prior about the shortcomings of donations as a community intervention strategy citing the case of Cyclone Idai as an example. Imagine if Clean City had just donated trucks or bins to City Council? yet they have demonstrated a sustainable way of doing CSR and have birthed a brand out of it! this has traces of what Strive Econet founder and chairman repeatedly says “go were the need is great and serve”. The need for a private partner to help our local council has never been greater than it is now with the local government struggling to provide basic amenities to the population. Can we postulate that a public and private partnership model could be the solution to our problems in electricity? tap water? potholes? it remains to be seen but for now, we say kudos to Clean City for their messianic efforts!