FOLK HERO™ expands globally with push into Europe and the Middle East

New York, NY, Feb. 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FOLK HERO™, [INVNT GROUP]’s brand strategy firm, is expanding its global operations into Europe and the Middle East, growing its storytelling reach across the region.

FOLK HERO is a modern brand studio, brand consulting agency, and leading expert in global brand storytelling. The firm has led award-winning brand strategy campaigns for Loro Piana, Intimissimi, Sales Force, Tezenis, Walmart Media Group, Nurosene and more.

Ben Mainwaring has been appointed Chief Strategy Officer of FOLK HERO.

“As we continue to build on the strength of our global strategic offering, Ben brings great expertise in technology, purpose and innovation, that will help Folk Hero continue to successfully take brands into the future,” said Rob Klingensmith, CEO of FOLK HERO.

Mainwaring brings over 20 years of brand marketing strategy, new product development, and commercial strategy experience, specializing in automotive, emerging technology and systems innovation.

Mainwaring will be based in INVNT GROUP’s EMEA headquarters in London, supporting client work across the region.

“We’re thrilled to have this powerhouse resource on the ground in the EMEA region enhancing our capabilities for clients. Helping brands and organisations ensure that they are telling the best version of their brand story, and reaching the most relevant audiences is crucial,” said Claudia Stephenson, Managing Director of INVNT GROUP EMEA. 

Ben Mainwaring joins FOLK HERO after 8 years as Founder at Matter, delivering strategy and innovation to private sector and governments clients across the US, Middle East, and Africa.

“I have known INVNT GROUP’s leadership for over a decade and have been so impressed by how the business has grown, adapted, and innovated over the years. I am joining FOLK HERO at a pivotal time in the evolution of the GROUP – advancing the agency’s brand strategy and storytelling power. I can’t wait to make my own contribution to the agency’s challenger mantra and broaden our offering to new markets and world-class clients,” said Ben Mainwaring, Chief Strategy Officer of FOLK HERO.


Folk Hero, established by award-winning brand strategist Rob Klingensmith and part of [INVNT GROUP] The Global BrandStory Project™ specializes in bringing story strategies to the executive level, creating master brand narratives that act as brands’ operating and organizing principles. The firm helps its clients develop unusually compelling brand narratives, architecture, identity and tone-of-voice, all underpinned by a robust research methodology and deep understanding of contemporary consumer behaviors. For more information visit:



[INVNT GROUP]™ THE GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT was established as an evolution of the founding global live brand storytelling agency INVNT in 2008, with a vision to provide consistent, meaningful, well-articulated BrandStory across all platforms. With offices in New York, Sydney, London, Singapore, Dubai, San Francisco, Stockholm, Detroit, and Washington D.C.; headed by President and CEO, Scott Cullather, [INVNT GROUP] represents a growing portfolio of complementary disciplines designed to help forward-thinking organizations everywhere, impact the audiences that matter, anywhere. The GROUP consists of modern brand strategy firm, Folk Hero; creative-led culture consultancy, Meaning; production studio & creative agency, HEVĒ; events for colleges and universities, INVNT Higher Ed; digital innovation division, INVNT.ATOM; creative multimedia experience studio, Hypnogram; and the original live brand storytelling agency, INVNT. For more information visit:

Jhonathan Mendez de Leon

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8740864

Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a global organization that works alongside local partners in communities worldwide to strengthen democracies and build competitive markets, kicked off its 40th anniversary celebration today with the release of an online CIPE 40 Timeline. Plans for the anniversary include the release of a series of profiles recognizing the contributions of key collaborators and a multi-part podcast looking at CIPE’s impact over the past four decades.

Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

Throughout the anniversary year, CIPE will celebrate its successes and partner achievements, show how its programs have informed new approaches, and address forward-looking challenges. On February 7, CIPE will host a virtual event  to unveil a new initiative and website dedicated to the future of democracy and technology. The event “Visions for a Technology-Enabled Democratic Future” will be held in conjunction with project co-producers, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), which along with CIPE are part of the core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Through the dedication of our team members and partners, CIPE has implemented programs and grants which are models for successful projects and have made a dramatic impact in more than 130 countries,” said CIPE Executive Director Andrew Wilson. “In these times of rising authoritarianism, as well as movements and uprisings, the connection between economic freedom and political freedom is clear. Democracy is at a critical inflection point making our work more important than ever.”

CIPE was established in 1983 at the United States Chamber of Commerce to support democratic and economic development abroad through programs with the private sector and think tanks. Efforts started in Latin America with initiatives to integrate thousands of unregistered small businesses into the “formal” economy, establish a regional business leadership training institute, and generate legislative advisories to inform policy. Over the past 40-years, CIPE has initiated more than 3,000 projects worldwide and is currently working on more than 300 programs and grants in over 80 countries.

About CIPE

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is a global organization that works to strengthen democracy and build competitive markets in many of the world’s most challenging environments. Working alongside local partners and tomorrow’s leaders, CIPE advances the voice of business in policy making, promotes opportunity, and develops resilient and inclusive economies. To learn more about CIPE, visit cipe.orgLinkedInFacebook, or Twitter.

CIPE Communications Department

CIPE logo

Photo –
Logo –

Press Release: Coalition for Digital Africa Announces Internet Exchange Point Initiative

ISTANBUL, Feb. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Coalition for Digital Africa announced another major initiative aimed at strengthening the Internet infrastructure across the continent. This latest initiative will focus on enhancing five existing Internet exchange points (IXPs), to improve Internet access by making it faster and more affordable, thus positively impacting Internet users in the regions they are placed in.

Internet Society

The Coalition for Digital Africa is an initiative created by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that aims to bring more Africans online by supporting the development of a robust and secure Internet infrastructure in Africa. IXPs enable the exchange of Internet traffic locally and are essential for any region aspiring to participate fully in the global Internet economy. The initiative is supported by a grant from ICANN and will be implemented by the Internet Society (ISOC).

Using an assessment tool developed by ISOC, five IXPs will be identified based on their potential to make a high impact on the respective local and sub-regional markets. The Internet Society will work to create a clear plan for growth and development, tailored to the regions’ interests to strengthen the Internet in Africa. A local manager will be identified and recruited for each IXP, to be responsible for implementing the action plan and achieving measurable project targets while receiving training and support from ISOC.

“Well-managed IXPs open new worlds of possibilities, with modest investment, by improving local Internet services and reducing their costs,” said Sally Costerton, Interim President and CEO of ICANN, which launched the Coalition for Digital Africa in December 2022.

Research from the Internet Society shows that IXPs improve the end-user experience through lowering the costs of Internet access and stimulating the development of local Internet ecosystems and cross-border interconnection.

“IXPs make Internet access cheaper and more reliable. They are a critical resource in making sure the Internet is for everyone,” said Andrew Sullivan, President and CEO of ISOC. “The Internet Society is grateful for this investment by ICANN that will help bring Internet access to more people throughout the continent.”

Details of the IXP project were announced during a webinar on 30 January. The initiative is another in a series of initiatives aimed at improving accessibility to the Internet under the auspices of the Coalition for Digital Africa.

The Coalition for Digital Africa comprises governments, regional and international organizations, and the local Internet community. Conceived by ICANN, the Coalition for Digital Africa is an alliance of like-minded organizations committed to building robust and secure Internet infrastructure to bring more Africans online. More information is available at


ICANN’s mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you have to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique, so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation and a community with participants from all over the world.

About the Internet Society

Founded in 1992 by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society is a global non-profit organization working to ensure the Internet is for everyone. Through its community of members, special interest groups, and 130+ chapters around the world, the organization defends and promotes Internet policies, standards, and protocols that keep the Internet open, globally connected, and secure. For more information, please visit:



Logo –

Logo –

Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group Anuncia a Expansão dos Serviços no Médio Oriente e Norte da África

TEMECULA, Califórnia, Jan. 31, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — O Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group (Grupo), parte da Nikkiso Co., Ltd (Japão), tem o orgulho de anunciar mais uma expansão da sua capacidade de fabricação e serviços no Oriente Médio e Norte da África. Com a expansão, o grupo passará a fornecer reparos pós-venda de bombas e turboexpansores de toda a sua linha, incluindo de bombas J.C. Carter. Seu novo centro de serviço de última geração permitirá que os reparos sejam feitos localmente, sem necessidade de enviar o equipamento para outro lugar.

A nova instalação, com sede na Zona Franca de Sharjah, foi criada para aumentar o apoio aos mercados do Oriente Médio e Norte da África. A instalação inclui suporte de serviço de campo e técnicos especialmente treinados para dar suporte a Bombas Marítimas JC Carter, Nikkiso Cryogenic (ACD e Nikkiso Cryo) e Turboexpansores. Além de reparos na oficina e no local do cliente, eles fornecerão serviço de reparos pós-venda.

“Nesta instalação, poderemos responder mais rapidamente às necessidades dos nossos clientes, com a expansão do suporte e soluções individuais. O Nikkiso CE&IG passará a oferecer mais serviço e suporte aos nossos clientes com a nossa presença local”, disse Jim Estes, Presidente da Nikkiso Cryogenic Services.

Esta expansão é um exemplo do compromisso e do apoio do grupo ao crescimento do mercado no Oriente Médio e no Norte da África.


A Cryogenic Industries, Inc. (agora parte da Nikkiso Co., Ltd.) fabrica e presta serviços para equipamentos de processamento de gás criogênico projetados (bombas, turboexpansores, trocadores de calor, etc.) e plantas de processo para Gases Industriais, Liquefação de Gás Natural (GNL), Liquefação de Hidrogênio (LH2) e Ciclo Rankine Orgânico para Recuperação de Calor de Resíduos. Fundada há mais de 50 anos, a Cryogenic Industries é a empresa controladora da ACD, Nikkiso Cryo, Nikkiso Integrated Cryogenic Solutions, Cosmodyne e Cryoquip, e de um grupo comumente controlado de 20 entidades operacionais.

Para mais informação, visite e

Anna Quigley

Foto deste comunicado disponível em:

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8740416

Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group annonce l’expansion de son service au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique du Nord

TEMECULA, Californie, 01 févr. 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group (le « Groupe »), qui fait partie du groupe d’entreprises Nikkiso Co., Ltd (Japon), est fier d’annoncer une nouvelle expansion de ses capacités de fabrication et de service pour les marchés du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord. Grâce à cette expansion, le groupe assurera les réparations après-vente de pompes et de turbodétendeurs de sa gamme complète, y compris les pompes J.C. Carter. Son nouveau centre de services ultramoderne permettra de réaliser les réparations des équipements localement et évitera ainsi de devoir les expédier ailleurs.

Basé dans la zone franche de Sharjah, il a été créé pour offrir un soutien élargi aux marchés du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord. Il propose en plus un service d’assistance sur le terrain et des techniciens d’atelier spécialement formés pour assurer le fonctionnement des pompes cryogéniques (J.C Carter, ACD et Nikkiso Cryo) et des turbodétendeurs pour les applications marines. Les techniciens assureront les services après-vente en plus des réparations en atelier et sur site.

Selon Jim Estes, président de Nikkiso Cryogenic Services « Ce centre va nous permettre de répondre plus vite aux besoins de nos clients en offrant une assistance personnalisée et un plus grand nombre de solutions. Grâce à notre présence locale, Nikkiso CE&IG va désormais pouvoir offrir un meilleur service et une meilleure assistance à nos clients ».

Cette expansion reflète l’engagement du groupe et son soutien au développement des marchés du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord.

Cryogenic Industries, Inc. (aujourd’hui membre de Nikkiso Co., Ltd.) et ses entreprises membres fabriquent et entretiennent des équipements de traitement du gaz cryogénique (pompes, turbodétendeurs, échangeurs thermiques, etc.), et des usines de traitement pour les gaz industriels, la liquéfaction du gaz naturel (GNL), la liquéfaction de l’hydrogène (LH2) et le cycle organique de Rankine pour la récupération de la chaleur perdue. Fondée il y a plus de 50 ans, Cryogenic Industries est la société-mère d’ACD, de Nikkiso Cryo, de Nikkiso Integrated Cryogenic Solutions, de Cosmodyne et de Cryoquip, et d’un groupe administré en commun comptant une vingtaine d’entités opérationnelles.

Pour tout complément d’information, veuillez consulter les sites et

Contact auprès des médias :
Anna Quigley

Une photo accompagnant ce communiqué de presse est disponible à l’adresse :

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8740416

Before a Crowd of 1 Million, Pope Urges Congolese to Forgive

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Congo’s people to forgive those who have harmed them as he presided over a Mass before an estimated 1 million people who flocked to his first main event in Africa dedicated to peace and reconciliation for a country wracked by decades of violence.

Many of the Congolese faithful spent the night before the Mass on the vast airfields of Kinshasa’s Ndolo airport and passed the hours before Francis’ arrival singing, dancing and getting jazzed up for the first papal visit since St. John Paul II’s last trip in 1985.

They cheered wildly when Francis began a languid loop around the airfields in his open-sided popemobile, some of them running alongside or waving flags. Many of the women wore dresses and skirts made of pagne, a wax print fabric featuring images of Francis or other religious symbols.

“Today I understand the enthusiasm of my grandmother when Pope John Paul II came,” said Julie Mbuyi, a 45-year-old mother of two who was wearing a Francis-themed outfit. “She was so excited to see him and the night before she couldn’t close her eyes!”

The crowd cheered again when the Argentine pope greeted them in Lingala, one of four national languages of Congo that is widely spoken in the capital, Kinshasa. And they listened attentively as he urged them in his homily to open their hearts to forgiveness, citing the example of Christ who forgave those who betrayed him.

“He showed them his wounds, because forgiveness is born from wounds,” Francis said. “It is born when our wounds do not leave scars of hatred, but become the means by which we make room for others and accept their weaknesses. Our weakness becomes an opportunity, and forgiveness becomes the path to peace.”

Referring to the decades of violence especially in Congo’s east that has forced millions to flee their homes, Francis stressed that forgiving doesn’t mean pretending that nothing bad has happened. But he said the act of forgiveness creates an “amnesty of the heart.”

“What great good it does us to cleanse our hearts of anger and remorse, of every trace of resentment and hostility!” he said.

The morning Mass was Francis’ first big event in Congo after he arrived on Tuesday and, in his opening speech to government authorities, condemned the centuries-long plundering of Africa’s mineral and natural wealth by foreign powers.

Later Tuesday, Francis was to meet with victims of the fighting in Congo’s east, where rebel groups have intensified attacks over the past year as they seek to expand their territory. The meeting was to feature testimonies of people who have suffered unspeakable atrocities.

Francis had originally planned to visit the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma, but had to cancel the stop due to the fighting that has forced some 5.7 million people to flee their homes, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Congo where already some 26.4 million people were facing hunger, according to the World Food Program.

“When we heard that Pope Francis was no longer coming to our province of North Kivu, my husband and I decided to come all the way to Kinshasa to see and hear him,” said Jeanne Kahota as she waited for Francis’ Mass to begin. She said she was old enough to remember John Paul’s visit but wasn’t able to follow it closely.

“That’s why we said to ourselves that this kind of appointment doesn’t happen every day, it’s exceptional and we didn’t want to miss it again.”

Roughly half of Congo’s 105 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.

Fighting in eastern Congo, which has more than 120 armed groups, has simmered for years but spiked in late 2021 with the resurgence of the M23 group, which had been largely dormant for nearly a decade. The rebels have captured swaths of land and are accused by the United Nations and rights groups of committing atrocities against civilians.

Francis on Tuesday condemned the fighting and was to repeat his call for peace during his meeting with victims of the conflict. The appointment was to include a joint call for the victims to pardon their assailants, according to Vatican organizers.

The Vatican estimated that 1 million people were on hand for Francis’ Mass, citing local organizers. The airport fields had a capacity of 1.5 million people and were not full by the time Francis’ Mass began.

Among the faithful was Clément L’onde, who travelled from Kisantu, a town in the province of Central Kongo, more than 150 kilometers from Kinshasa. He planned to participate in all of Francis’ events.

“To my children and to the children who stayed in my city, I will bring them the message of the Holy Father, the message of peace and reconciliation,” he said.

Source: Voice of America

Global Corruption Worsens, but Africa Makes Progress

The past year saw little progress in tackling global corruption due to greater violence and insecurity, according to the organization Transparency International’s “Corruption Perceptions Index 2022.” However, there are some encouraging signs that corruption is being successfully tackled in parts of Africa.

“Most of the world continues to fail to fight corruption: 95 percent of countries have made little to no progress since 2017,” the report says. “Governments hampered by corruption lack the capacity to protect the people, while public discontent is more likely to turn into violence. This vicious cycle is impacting countries everywhere from South Sudan to Brazil.”


For the sixth year running, South Sudan, Syria and Somalia are at the bottom of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception index.

“South Sudan is in a major humanitarian crisis with more than half of the population facing acute food insecurity — and corruption is exacerbating the situation,” the report reads. “A Sentry report from last year revealed that a massive fraud scheme by a network of corrupt politicians with ties to the president’s family siphoned off aid for food, fuel and medicine.”

Conflict and corruption create a vicious cycle, said Transparency International’s Roberto Kukutschka.

“Having weak and corrupt police and defense sectors — including … other law enforcement organizations or institutions such as the courts or the judiciary itself — it is very unlikely that we will be able to tackle organized crime or the effects of organized crime and terrorism,” Kukutschka told VOA.


The report says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February exemplifies the threat that corruption poses for global security.

“Kleptocrats in Russia have amassed great fortunes by pledging loyalty to President Vladimir Putin in exchange for profitable government contracts and protection of their economic interests,” the authors say. “The absence of any checks on Putin’s power allowed him to pursue his geopolitical ambitions with impunity. This attack destabilized the European continent, threatening democracy and killing tens of thousands.”


Transparency International says perceived corruption worsened in Brazil under former president Jair Bolsonaro. His supporters attacked the parliament, supreme court and presidential palace following his election loss in January.

“It is much easier for corruption to occur when these checks and balances are weaker,” said Kukutschka. “That’s why one of our main recommendations this year and also in the past has been to really focus on establishing very clear separation of powers across the judiciary, the legislature and the executive whenever we have those three branches of power.”

The index ranks 180 countries by the perceived level of corruption, using data from 13 external sources including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.


Denmark, Finland and Norway top the index. “Strong democratic institutions and regard for human rights also make these countries some of the most peaceful in the world,” says the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog.

Several European countries are at historic lows, though, including Britain, which has slipped 10 places in the past five years following a series of political scandals. Qatar and Guatemala also have fallen to historic lows on the index.

Four other traditionally top-scoring countries — Australia, Austria, Canada and Luxembourg — saw a significant decline in their assessments, as VOA recently reported, while the U.S. scored 69, a “negligible” increase of 2 points, according to a Transparency International expert who called the rating “troubling.”

African progress

Some African nations have made significant progress and are rising on the index, including Angola, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Senegal.

“Seven of the 24 countries that we see improving are actually in Africa, so this is one of the regions that is stuck at the bottom of the index, but where we also see progress happening,” Kukutschka told VOA.

“Many of them have also ramped up their anti-corruption commitments. There’s been a lot of work also within the framework of the African Union to have to fight against corruption,” he added.

Source: Voice of America

Regional Leaders Vow to Support Somalia’s War Against Al-Shabab

The leaders of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia met Wednesday in the Somali capital to discuss the ongoing fight against al-Shabab militants. The security summit took place amid an offensive by Somalia and its allies against the Islamist militants. Somalia in the past year has won significant victories against the group, which has also increased its counterattacks.

At least four mortar shells landed near the presidential palace in Mogadishu Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of heads of state and governments from the region.

There were no casualties reported in the attack, for which al-Shabab claimed responsibility.

The Frontline States Summit went ahead with Kenyan President William Ruto, Djibouti’s president, Omar Guelleh, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and the host, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Earlier, Somalia’s information minister, Daud Aweis, told journalists in Mogadishu the leaders would discuss efforts by the Somali army and its clan militia allies to ensure peace in the region.

He said, the discussions here in Mogadishu will focus more on the operations of the Somali National Army in cooperation with the citizens with the aim of achieving lasting peace in the Horn of Africa and ensuring that the state of security in Somalia does not only end in Somalia but also extends to neighboring countries.

Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia contribute troops to the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia, ATMIS.

However, security analysts say today’s gathering explores more enhanced engagement among Somalia’s neighbors.

A communique from the meeting noted that the regional countries had agreed to mobilize resources to support the ongoing military operations in Somalia.

Matt Bryden is the founder of Sahan Research, a security and policy research group focusing on the Horn of Africa.

“The meeting of the frontline states in Mogadishu today, and the heads of state is really an essential step in advancing the fight against al-Shabab independently of wider peace and security issues, such as the role of ATMIS and security cooperation, economic cooperation between these neighboring states,” he said.

Bryden said the engagement among the regional states is long overdue, noting the regional bloc IGAD has previously called on member states to deal with al-Shabab as a regional problem.

Bryden said although al-Shabab is centered in Somalia, it has carried out deadly attacks throughout the region, especially Kenya, and has made incursions into Ethiopia and Djibouti.

“So, this is about Somalia and its neighbors not simply cooperating on the conventional or counterinsurgency battle against al-Shabab inside Somalia. It is about investigating, identifying and disrupting al-Shabab’s networks of financiers, facilitators and active supporters across the entire region,” he said.

Following the conclusion of the summit, the leaders of the four countries said they had agreed to establish a joint coordination mechanism and jointly plan a decisive operational strategy against the Islamist militants.

The U.N. Security Council has set December 2024 as the exit date for African Union forces from Somalia. However, that milestone has been termed overly ambitious in light of inadequate preparation among Somali security forces and the current strength of al-Shabab.

Source: Voice of America