DoiT International Announces Investment by Charlesbank

BOSTON, Nov. 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — DoiT International ("DoiT" or the "Company"), a leading provider of proprietary public cloud optimization and operations software and public cloud expertise, today announced that Charlesbank Technology Opportunities Fund, a fund managed by Charlesbank Capital Partners, along with affiliated investors, has invested over $100 million in the Company. DoiT is on track to more than double revenue in 2019, and this investment will enable the Company to invest in its software platform, scale its global team of cloud architects, grow its presence in North America and Europe, and pursue strategic acquisitions. Prior to this investment, DoiT had not taken any outside investment.

DoiT's offering delivers significant value to its growing base of technology customers, providing support for public cloud workloads with complex requirements such as multi–cloud Kubernetes deployments, real–time data and analytics, and machine intelligence. Its software platform uses machine learning to enable customers to right–size workloads and optimize their public cloud spend across any of the three major public cloud providers. DoiT's solution provides meaningful cost savings to customers within 90 days of their being onboarded, and the Company's engineering consultancy helps customers architect applications and deployments optimally for multi–cloud environments. Founded in 2011, DoiT has offices in Tel Aviv, San Francisco, New York, Austin, and London.

"Our goal is to help our customers harness the power of public cloud technologies in the most efficient way, freeing up their resources to invest in providing the best products to their customers," said DoiT's founder, Vadim Solovey. "This investment by Charlesbank will allow us to accelerate development of our platform's multi–cloud capabilities and support for the three major public cloud platforms."

Added Yoav Toussia–Cohen, CEO and co–founder of DoiT, "Today's announcement marks a major milestone in our journey as we build DoiT into a global company. We are pleased to be partnering with Charlesbank, who is well–aligned with our vision and will help us extend our presence globally, providing more companies with our solutions."

"DoiT has built an impressive solution that enables some of the most sophisticated cloud users to adopt the latest technologies from Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, while optimizing their public cloud usage," said Darren Battistoni, a Managing Director at Charlesbank who will join the DoiT Board of Directors. "Having spoken to many of their customers, it is clear that DoiT's combination of innovative software and best–in–class technical capabilities provides the trusted external support that customers need to address the ongoing challenges associated with complex public cloud deployments. We are thrilled to partner with the talented DoiT management team, in what is the second investment for Charlesbank's Technology Opportunities Fund."

MVP Capital served as the exclusive financial advisor to DoiT International, with Bain Capital Credit and Deutsche Bank Direct Lending providing financing for the transaction.

About DoiT International

DoiT International tackles complex problems of scale that are unique to technology customers, using its expertise in coding, algorithms, complexity analysis, large–scale system design, and resolving problems. Driven by highly experienced, senior–level cloud architects, DoiT International offers a leading go–to innovation team that can help you make the cloud yours. For more information, please visit doit–intl.com.

About Charlesbank Capital Partners

Based in Boston and New York, Charlesbank Capital Partners is a middle–market private equity investment firm managing more than $5 billion of capital. Charlesbank focuses on management–led buyouts and growth capital financings and also engages in opportunistic credit and technology investments. The firm seeks to partner with strong management teams to build companies with sustainable competitive advantage and excellent prospects for growth. For more information, please visit www.charlesbank.com.

Contacts

For DoiT International:
Vadim Solovey
General Manager
vadim@doit–intl.com

For Charlesbank Capital Partners:
Maura Turner
Vice President, Communications and Investor Relations
(617) 619–5457
mturner@charlesbank.com

The Rapid Decline in Civic Freedoms: 5 Countries to Keep an Eye on

Protests in Egypt. Credit: @oxfamNovib

By Ine Van Severen
JOHANNESBURG, Nov 1 2019 – 2019 has been a year of protest. From Algeria, to Chile, to Hong Kong, ordinary people have taken to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction with governance systems. Their causes are as diverse as the people pouring into the streets.

Public grievances range from corruption, anti-austerity measures, and electoral irregularities. The reasons for the mass mobilisations may differ, but the response by those in power are becoming alarmingly similar.

In far too many countries, the response has been to shut down the space for people to organise and to persecute those calling for change.

The new civic space watchlist by the CIVICUS Monitor shines a spotlight on Hong Kong, Colombia, Egypt, Guinea and Kazakhstan where there are escalating rights violations against activists, journalists and civil society groups.

In particular, this shortlist profiles a sample of countries where there are serious and ongoing attacks against the freedoms of peaceful assembly, expression and association.

In Hong Kong, there has been a continued deterioration of civic space since millions of people took to the streets on 9th June 2019 to protest against a proposed extradition bill, which would allow individuals, including foreigners, to be sent to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

In response to weekly protests, human rights groups have documented excessive and unlawful force by security forces against protesters with impunity, including the use of truncheons, pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets. Journalists have also been targeted.

More than 1,300 people have been arrested in the context of the mass protest and some activists have also been attacked by pro Beijing mobs.

In Egypt, recent anti-government protests resulted in mass arrests and the use of excessive force by the authorities. Thousands of people have been arrested since the protests started in September, including journalists, human rights lawyers and activists. Many of those arrested have been charged on dubious grounds of using social media to spread false news, aiding terrorist groups and for participating in unauthorised protests.

The crackdown has also expanded to target the political opposition and anyone deemed to be connected to protests dating all the way back to 2011.

In Guinea, tensions have been on the rise since Guinea’s ruling party made a public call to change the constitution, which could abolish presidential term limits. The West African country is set for 2020 presidential elections and the current president, Alpha Condé, is not eligible under the current 2010 constitution.

During three days of protests in October against the proposed constitutional changes, at least nine people were killed and several protesters and protest leaders arrested. According to human rights organisations in Guinea, the plans for a new Constitution may destabilise the country and lead to renewed violence.

Since presidential elections this past June in Kazakhstan, human rights abuses have hit a new high in the former Soviet state. Post-election protests have seen police and special forces detain several thousand peaceful protesters, often with excessive force.

In addition, the authorities have obstructed the work of journalists and electoral observers, as well as periodically blocking access to social media and messenger applications. The repression has cast a shadow on the elections and the beginning of Tokayev’s period in office.

Colombia is the fifth country on the Monitor Watchlist, which remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a human rights defender. Dozens of community leaders have been killed this year as well as 7 political candidates running for local office in an election campaign marked by violence. Impunity for such crimes has been the rule.

The country is further backsliding into violence as post-conflict communities are left vulnerable to dissident armed groups and commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announce their intentions to take up arms again, nearly three years after the historic peace accord with the Colombian government was signed.

While protests flare in all regions of the world, it is of utmost importance that people are able to freely express dissent without authorities using excessive force against them. Instead of using violence against protesters and restricting fundamental freedoms, governments should seek solutions by listening to the grievances of ordinary citizens and dissenting voices.

Africa’s Youth make Land Restoration their Business

Drone visual of the area in Upper East Region, Ghana prior to restoration taken in 2015. Experts say that Africa’s youth need to become involved in land restoration projects. Credit: Albert Oppong-Ansah /IPS

By Diana Wanyonyi and Nalisha Adams
ACCRA, Ghana/JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 1 2019 – The last time Siyabulela Sokomani ran a marathon he did so with a tree strapped to his back. A native wild olive sapling to be exact. It affected his race time for sure, with the seasoned runner completing the 42.2 km race in 4.42 hours rather than his usual 3.37 hours.

But the entrepreneur, who is co-owner of the ethical South African nursery Shoots and Roots, which uses controlled release fertilisers, which are less harmful to the environment, and 70 percent less pesticides, was doing it for a good cause.

The #runningtreecampaign — a fundraising effort by the non-profit Township Farmers which Sokomani started with children’s rights activist Ondela Manjezi — was raising funds to plant some 2,000 indigenous trees in the former apartheid black housing area of Khayelitsha. In addition to planting trees, Township Farmers also educates school kids about gardening their own vegetables and how to plant and take care of trees.

Sokomani grew up in Khayelitsha an area known for the distinctive white, beach sand — in which you can still find seashells — which serves as soil. It’s an environment in which only indigenous plants can flourish.

Under apartheid these areas received little or no services, and had no green spaces. And many still lack this. It was only thanks to a teacher who taught him and his classmates about the importance of the environment, recycling and growing your own food that Sokomani pursued studies and eventually a career in horticulture.

“There was nothing. There was not even a culture of planting trees. The main thing that people strived for was to get a job and to feed their families,” he tells IPS.

So Sokomani and his friends and colleagues hit the pavement, completed the Cape Town marathon and raised the money for the indigenous trees. They have already started planting them in schools in Khayelitsha — starting with Sokomani’s alma mater, Zola Senior Secondary School.

Dotted around the schools are now wild olive, sand olive and silver oak trees, among others.

In September, horticulturalist and entrepreneur Siyabulela Sokomani (right) and friends ran the Cape Town marathon with wild olive saplings trapped to their backs to raise funding for 2,000 indigenous trees which planted in the disadvantaged township of Kayaltishea, South Africa. Courtesy: Siyabulela Sokomani

Making a business out of land restoration

The 34-year-old Sokomani, who was elected as a youth ambassador leading restoration initiatives by the 4th African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR100), has just returned from Ghana’s capital, Accra, where the annual meeting concluded this week.

His attendance at AFR100, a project where African countries have committed to restore over 111 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, was important. As an entrepreneur Sokomani was there to show other African youth how to create viable business opportunities within the land restoration space.

Shoots and Roots has a number large clients in South Africa, regularly providing 150,000 to 200,000 indigenous trees to single clients in one order, and with a capacity to grow one million trees.

“We are missing something. We are missing the youth being actively involved in the management side of things,” Sokomani pointed out.

The AFR100 Secretariat at the African Union’s development agency, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), coordinates restoration activities on the continent, with support from the initiative’s technical partners, including the Center for International Forestry Research, United Nations Environment and World Resources Institute (WRI), among others.

Land degradation remains a threat to global security, according to the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, with two-thirds of Africa comprising desert or drylands. UNCCD figures show that in 2019 some 45 million people across Africa, mostly from East and Southern Africa, are food insecure.

Aside from restored land providing food security, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in August states that better land management can help combat global warming and limit the release of greenhouse gases. The report authors recommended vigorous action to halt soil damage and desertification.

Engaging the energy and innovation of Africa’s youth

But many believe that without engaging the youth in these activities, success may not be possible.

“We have to engage young people meaningfully, invest in them. We need to harness their energy or get out of the way. Are we ready for these young people?” Wanjira Mathai, co-chair of the World Resources Institute’s Global Restoration Council and the current Chair of of the Wangari Maathai Foundation, told the meeting. Mathai’s mother was the late Wangari Maathai — the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and an environmentalist and human rights activist.

Speaking to IPS, Mathai said that youth were an “incredibly important demographic in this restoration movement” as they were Africa’s largest demographic. Some 60 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 25.

“If you don’t work with youth, who are you working with because they are after all the majority.

“Restoration and many environmental initiatives are very slow and deep because they take time, it takes 30 years for some trees to mature and that is fast in our tropics, it could be even longer — 90 years in Scandinavia. The generation that is actually going to deliver a lot of these ambitions and ambitious commitments that are being made today are the youth,” Mathai told IPS.

She said young people “want to be involved in entrepreneurship ventures many of them are environmentalists but we have not created spaces for them, we only often think they are too young”.

Mathai said that it was not obvious to many nations that the youth should be involved in land restoration and environmental efforts and that new and innovative ways needed to be explored to support youth engagement.

“What we know for sure is that if we leave them out, we leave them out at our own peril because they are energetic, they think differently and they are operating on a completely different level of consciousness that is needed especially for this decade that 2013 is end of a lot of different ambitious targets,” Mathai told IPS.

According to the African Development Bank, 420 million of the continent’s youth aged 15 to 35 are unemployed.

Creating jobs by financing entrepreneurs

This challenge can be solved if the youth venture into agroforestry, says Honorine Uwase Hirwa, founder Rwanda’s Youth Forest Landscape Restoration initiative, which has trained more than 15,000 young Rwandans to plant trees.

“There’s an opportunity especially on this restoration movement, one can establish a tree nursery, one can plant fruit trees and sell the fruit, there is a lot of opportunity when it comes to restoration it’s a matters of empowering them with knowledge and making it easy for them to access the finance,” she told IPS.

Sokomani agrees.

As a South African in the Western Cape province, where only 4,9 percent of agricultural land is owned by the black population, for Sokomani it was particularly hard to succeed in a business that requires land.

But Sokomani has not received bank or grant funding for his business and instead was able to make a success of the business, thanks to the involvement of a business partner and former client, Carl Pretorius.

But he tells IPS, “you won’t get anywhere unless you have a passion for trees…it’s all about the passion and what you do”.

Land restoration more than planting trees

“Forest landscape restoration is more than just planting trees,” Mamadou Diakhite, Sustainable Land and Water Management (SLWM) team leader at NEPAD, told the meeting.

Later, he told IPS why this had to be differentiated: “We had to  make this statement loud and clear because there are some papers now including scientific papers that are being written and disseminated that portray and show AFR100 initiative as only planning trees, fencing them and preventing communities and people to access it which is the exact opposite, that’s is why we say that restoration is beyond only tree planting. It is more about agro forestry and agro ecology systems.”

Mathai concurred: “Sometimes there are agro forestry which are food production and trees and sometimes they are purely for food production. It is about understanding the landscape, the mosaic of the landscape and then maintaining the integrity of the landscape as a whole. The reason you hear us mentioning that all the time is to remind ourselves that landscapes occur in mosaics.”

Horticulture — a business opportunity right in front of you

For Sokomani, the type of trees planted remains important. He said that while we often hear about large, bold initiatives of forests of trees being planted in a single day, he questioned the types of trees planted.

“If we don’t create entrepreneurial opportunities through the establishment of nurseries that are growing [indigenous] trees and, in some areas, [indigenous] grasslands and bulbs and plants that actually thrive in those areas, we are really going to be messing up,” the horticulturist said.

He said he heard of land restoration efforts where the Chinese Popular, a non-indigenous tree, was being used. “You can’t restore degraded land with exotic species.”

He said indigenous trees should also be grown and propagated among local communities and the resultant horticultural enterprises could also prevent migration of local populations to larger cities.

“For the youth out there in Africa, Asia and South Africa, I always say it is very easy to start a horticulture business because your initial inputs are right in front of you. You can get seeds from a tree, from your block or from a forest, you can do division, you can do many other propagation techniques that you actually just start your business,” he said.

Sokomani said that if someone didn’t study horticulture like he did it would require a little bit of effort to learn the techniques, but he insisted that he didn’t believe in the myth of “green fingers” and anyone could learn to propagate and grown plants.

This weekend the horticulturist/marathon runner will slip into on running shoes and participate in one of South Africa’s well-known races – the Soweto marathon. This time though, he will be doing it without a tree strapped to his back.

“Let’s start today, because we really don’t have time when it comes to mitigating climate change.”