Our collaboration with Impacc – for a positive change in Africa

Hamburg, 17.12.2021

Impacc is a not-for-profit company that helps green start-ups in the poorest regions of Africa establish themselves in their home countries, create local jobs and operate sustainably. Because we want to contribute to this positive change, we are supporting the joint ventures in the area of brand development.

Why Impacc's approach appealed to us

  • More than 600 million people in Africa subsist on less than two dollars per day.
  • Traditional business initiatives are often harmful to the environment.
  • Aid projects end once the money is spent – new projects require new funds.

Impacc on the other hand founds and develops environmentally friendly companies to trigger positive growth cycles that can grow dynamically – and sustainably.

In the interview: Ruediger Goetz and Till Wahnbaeck

This year we decided not to put our creative ideas into Christmas presents, but into a cooperation that does good. Our partner for this: Impacc. Find out how our cooperation came about and how we work together with the young joint ventures in Africa in the interview with Managing Director Ruediger Goetz and Impacc founder Till Wahnbaeck.

Till visited us in our office in Hamburg. We asked him and Ruediger a few questions about our joint work.

Till, Ruediger – how did the contact between Impacc and Peter Schmidt Group come about?

Till Wahnbaeck: I've known Ruediger for more than ten years. Our paths crossed when I was still working for the consumer goods company Procter & Gamble, and Ruediger was at the design agency we worked with. Although we met in a formal business setting, it was already clear to me that I wanted to collaborate with him not only to make a difference within the company, but for social initiatives as well. And I did just that when it came to branding for an amateur orchestra I was supporting with my newly founded not-for-profit consultancy. I'm glad we've always stayed in contact and that we continue to work together on social projects to this day.

Ruediger Goetz: The motivation to spport social enterprises is not just mine alone. The sustainable heart of Impacc resonates with all our teams at Peter Schmidt Group. Impacc not only meets our standards for empathetic design, it is also represents an intriguing challenge in this context: Are we as designers really empathetic enough to improve the lives of people in Ghana through sustainable design? Supporting start-ups in Africa with our design expertise is something that was received with enthusiasm.

Wouldn't it be more logical to look for a design partner in Africa? Why choose a design agency from Hamburg?

Till Wahnbaeck: That's true, because we at Impacc are all about local solutions for local problems. But the best brands don't stop at national borders, and we've taken it from the Peter Schmidt Group that they can empathize with local target groups and develop brands that work regionally and globally at the same time; after all, many of our companies want to grow beyond their home market. The decisive factor for us is that the young entrepreneurs themselves decide whether a start-up wants to work with the agency and which branding suits their brand.  In the case of "Washking", everything just fit together; it's a very good blueprint for future projects.

What do you appreciate about each other? Which project do you find most fascinating?

Till Wahnbaeck: Ruediger is a great designer who intellectually understands brands down to the ground and can then creatively build them with a high demand for excellence. And this is the approach I see at the Peter Schmidt Group in general - it's great fun to be there when something new comes into being creatively.

Ruediger Goetz: Impacc contradicts the traditional view of development aid. Instead of helping companies get set up and then leaving them on their own as soon as the aid money runs out, Impacc provides long-term assistance. The aim is for start-ups to recognize local problems and find sustainable solutions to them. In this way, ideas are realized that really improve people's lives, whether it's a compost toilet, a charcoal-producing cooking oven, pavement stones made from discarded plastic, or biologically degradable sanitary towels. This is truly empathetic – and thus sustainable – development aid.

"We've taken it from the Peter Schmidt Group that they can empathize with local target groups and develop brands that work regionally and globally at the same time."

Till Wahnbaeck

What exactly are you collaborating on?

Till Wahnbaeck: We are currently investing in four companies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda – and we're doing fundraising for five more. As a non-profit company, we convert donations into equity investments; but we don't just bring in the necessary money, we also help our companies in other areas, and visibility through branding is always part of that. The Peter Schmidt Group is one of our collaborative partners for this task. To have such a world-class agency on our side is an incredible privilege.

Ruediger Goetz: We are in direct contact with the start-ups in Africa. For each of the projects we have teams who not only support the brands not only from the office in Hamburg, but also on-site. In fact, we had planned a one-week visit to Ghana before Christmas to work with the “Washking” company. Unfortunately, changing travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic forced us to postpone it. Now we hope to meet early next year, and in the meantime we'll do what we can here in Hamburg.

"Our goal is not simply to imitate the country's national style, nor do we rely exclusively on prevailing design trends. We want to combine the traditional with the contemporary."

Ruediger Goetz

How can design contribute to making the world a better place?

Till Wahnbaeck: Design itself does not contribute to a better life. But a strong process that finds the solution to a problem, and a design that supports the right aspects, can appeal to people's emotions and motivate them to strive to make the world better.

Ruediger Goetz: When they are managed empathetically and sustainably, brands have an impact that transcends commercial aspects. They have a positive effect on the system and the people who comprise it. By motivating them and enabling them to experience a desirable vision of their actions. That makes brands an important emotional instrument to lead people on the way to a better future.

Nzambi is the founder of Gjenge Makers, a start-up from Nairobi that recycles discarded plastic into paving stones and drywall bricks. This reduces plastic waste pollution while creating affordable housing.

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