CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Sustainability: Key to successful social impact initiatives

In East Africa, Equity Bank has proven to be a thought leader in running successful CSR initiatives.

In Summary
  • Brands that have leaders with a passion for philanthropy are most likely to have strong CSR initiatives that grow to become part of the organisation’s identity and success story.
  • The world is constantly changing and companies that wish to remain relevant and impactful must relook their approach to CSR.
The 2018 Class of Wings To Fly scholars receive their comprehensive secondary school scholarships bringing the total number of scholars in the Wings To Fly Programme to 15,168.
The 2018 Class of Wings To Fly scholars receive their comprehensive secondary school scholarships bringing the total number of scholars in the Wings To Fly Programme to 15,168.
Image: COURTESY

Many corporates have embraced Corporate Social Responsibility as part of their business approach to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to the communities within their areas of operation. This trend has seen many organisations look beyond profit-making and invest heavily in positively impacting and transforming the lives and livelihoods of their key stakeholders as well as creating wealth.

Forbes Magazine indicates that 42 percent of what people feel about a company is based on their perception of its CSR causes. An insight that is supported by the evidence of how businesses have embraced charitable giving as a way of showing that they are socially responsible. Companies that remain adamant about CSR or those that have adopted skewed CSR policies lose greatly and face backlash from vocal customers and stakeholders.

However, the secret behind successful CSR lies in the sustainability of the initiatives. In East Africa, Equity Bank has proven to be a thought leader in running successful CSR initiatives.

 

This has seen the brand gain recognition and praise from stakeholders such as customers, shareholders, development agencies and even governments in the various countries in it operates. A deeper delve into their business strategy shows that sustainable CSR and giving back to society remain a core part of their long-term objectives.

For instance, the group has a subsidiary wholly dedicated to overseeing all its CSR initiatives, that is, the Equity Group Foundation. Beyond the existence of the subsidiary, the organisation commits two percent of its total annual revenue to supporting the various pillars of the foundation. A clear economic indicator that as long as the business continues to perform well, the community shall continue to benefit from its CSR activities.

Brands that have leaders with a passion for philanthropy are most likely to have strong CSR initiatives that grow to become part of the organisation’s identity and success story.

Thanks to CSR, an entrepreneur, for instance, who was trained in business management and given funding five years ago is most likely running a well-managed MSME that is profit-making and has probably employed others from within the community.

The world is constantly changing and companies that wish to remain relevant and impactful must relook their approach to CSR. Corporates, development agencies and other philanthropists need to ensure their CSR strategies are sustainable and the values and ideals of their programmes remain relevant despite the changing business environment and society needs. For instance, internal CSR policies must be strategic and aligned to a development agenda such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In Kenya, the government is focused on enhancing food security, provision of affordable housing, improving manufacturing and providing universal healthcare. By aligning social impact initiatives to the Big Four agenda, brands are likely to create a bigger impact in society and are likely to gain recognition and support from other like-minded corporates as well as set themselves apart from their competitors. These are added benefits that are by-products of being socially responsible.

Economist, specialises in finance and markets