Freeplay: Brand with a conscience

5 March 2007

Swedish-based global marketing and branding think-tank the Medinge Group has recognised South African energy efficiency company Freeplay Energy as one of nine worldwide brands with a conscience.

Business Day reported last Tuesday that Freeplay Energy is the only South African company to be awarded such a status since the annual Medinge awards began in 2004.

Winning companies are cited for their contribution to the betterment of society by sustainable, socially responsible behaviour while also being successful at commercial branding.

Even though Freeplay has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2005, it continues to develop its products at its Cape Town office that remains the hub of the company’s research and development.

The company’s products combine wind-up, solar and rechargeable energy to power a range of products, including radios, torches, headlamps and other illuminating devices, as well as standalone chargers for wireless sets and cellphones.

Freeplay Energy’s chairman and co-founder Rory Stear said: “As corporate ethical performance and accountability assume increasing importance in today’s global business environment, this recognition serves as an endorsement of our efforts in both a commercial and humanitarian capacity.”

One of the Medinge Group’s directors, Jack Yan, told Business Day that Freeplay Energy was an early nominee for this year’s Brands with a Conscience Award.

“In addition to the company’s humanitarian aims, Freeplay Energy products are setting new standards in the sustainable products industry for useful alternatives and portable energy solutions,” Yan said.

Life-changing technology
The technology Freeplay Energy develops plays a huge role in promoting education and access to life-changing information to isolated communities in the developing world.

To date, more than 400 000 products, including 200 000 Lifeline radios powered by Freeplay technology, are being used in humanitarian projects in more than 20 countries.

In 2006, it entered into an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund to supply the organisation with Lifeline radios and provide electoral education in Madagascar.

Freeplay Energy was a finalist in the 2005 Walpole British Excellence Awards in the British brand-of-the-year category and was nominated for an award in California’s Tech Museum of Innovation’s health category. In addition, its Cape Town-designed Indigo LED lantern was recognised for its innovation, design and engineering at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. reporter

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