By Alkali Amana
African Leadership Magazine (Editorial Staff)

How much more should be done to increase the awareness of African Corporates and powerful businesses on the need to invest in communities and give back, focusing on how and why it should be done?

It would seem that the very idea of getting into business as a corporation rests primarily within the profit zone, and all corporate vision is geared towards that goal to key into and maximize growth opportunities. African Corporates in business are no exemption in this regard as they seek to build a substantial presence and elevate their profile. However, much a business approach is commendable; its prospects for growth and its opportunities are certainly enhanced by the idea of infusing Corporate Social Responsibility into its activities. That way, such business does more by doing less in two folds, given that –

« Whichever community the CSR is focused on will experience development and better standards.

« The business/corporation will receive a boost in profile, recognition and patronage given its selfless contributions towards the development of communities.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a concept which needs to be embraced and implemented to create a means of sustainable development for African Communities and the time is now to encourage African Corporates to invest in African communities using this medium. How then should it be done, in what manner, a curious mind may ask?

Nike’s CSR in South Africa, engaging in field activities. Photo Credit: Worldcupcsr.wordpress.com

Investing in communities should be done fundamentally to create sustainable development and build business accountability towards the environmental and social impacts from the activities of a business. It should be viewed as a means of giving back from what of gained.

One particular medium, to begin with, is education. Encouraging education using scholarship schemes, seminars/lectures, organizing competitions etc. is a sure way of engaging in corporate social responsibility. Dell’s 2020 ‘Legacy of Good’ plan geared to drive human progress is an excellent instance to admire. The corporation partnered with Camera Education to provide 16 million hours of ICT training to 3,000 teachers in Ethiopia with a vision of such education spreading from its recipients to a broader audience.

Photo credit: Smartrecruiters.com

Infrastructural development provides another engaging means which can be used to further investments in African communities. The Dangote Foundation, for instance, over the years has committed over $100 million in charitable funds to several causes in Nigeria and Africa. It is the corporate social responsibility arm of Dangote Group. In 2018, Dangote Group was named as one of the Top 5 ‘Most Responsible Business in Africa/Overall Winner’ by SERAS (Sustainability Enterprise And Responsibility Awards).

Credit: Constructionreviewonline.com

Other means of driving investment in communities would include providing grants for agricultural schemes and development, volunteering for a community cleanup, carrying out a study on a prominent issue and calling the attention of policymakers to the communities with such problems.

Community cleanup is a viable CSR engagement. Credit: Vaalco Energy
UBA Foundation’s Read Africa hits East Africa. Credit: Daily times Nigeria

Getting involved in corporate social responsibility has the great potential of creating the right and peaceful environment for business growth, and it makes an advantage of building a close understanding between African Corporates and the various communities with which they are involved. It is worth noting that if there is any room for the development of Africa, the emergence of African corporates/businesses and the measure of their investment and impact on communities will speak volumes in playing a pivotal role in achieving such commitment. Therefore, the need arises for the corporate world of Africa to diversify and extend their arms, embracing corporate social responsibility, to invest in African communities. This way, they will give back and achieve more in the long run. The task remains to embrace this initiative and implement it.