CSR is Gaining Foothold in Nigeria
On Saturday, November 26, 2022, the 3rd edition of the CSR Reporters Philanthropic Awards was held in Lagos, and it was an open aperture on the range and depth of CSR in Nigeria.
It was the night I finally found an answer to this nagging question that had always been at the back of my mind for almost two years. Will the culture of CSR becomes firmly entrenched in Nigeria?
And the answer is in the affirmative.
The organisation of the award started months before D-Day; months of meticulous work by a panel that painstakingly reviewed actions, activities and programs in the corporate responsibility and sustainability sector and came up with a shortlist of 50 outstanding projects and their initiators, and the eventual winners at the ceremony. But in truth, all things considered, the big winner is Nigeria.
Over three years, the august award in November has become a barometer to gauge the magnitude, weigh the impact and ascertain the sustainability of corporate responsibility activities of privately-owned companies in Nigeria. Over the three years, we could see a pattern of how CSR was evolving in the country and it is so heartwarming to know that several companies have adopted global best practices in this regard.
We have seen financial giants leading the way, with First Bank, UBA and others instituting programs with far-reaching social effects that even spill beyond the border of Nigeria, and are becoming models for other countries.
Industrial conglomerates like Dangote Group and BUA Group are setting a blistering pace with robust programs, partnerships and grants that benefit communities and problem-plague sectors of society.
Even the oil and gas sector, perennially plagued by environmental issues, has witnessed the entrenchment of people-oriented social responsibility culture among organisations operating in the sector.
The fact is that CSR has caught on in the private sector. It has become enshrined, sine qua non to the existence of a corporate entity, no longer taken as PR stuff, and ingrained into the business philosophy of many companies, so much so it has become virtually impossible to separate the companies from their unique CSR.
It has become the norm: companies make huge social investments every year to the point that they are now known for their corporate responsibility and sustainability endeavours―First Bank’s Spark, UBA’s NEC, MTN’s scholarship, NBC’s recycling project etc―which are impacting positively and improving the lives of their host community, employees, customers and the environment.
The other germane question: is the practice well-grounded and sustainable? The answer again is in the affirmative and the evidence is in the scope, execution, follow-up, and plans of the various programs founded and funded by these big corporates who are blazing the trail for others to follow.
Now, the culture of CSR and sustainability is no longer alien in the country. It is here with us.
Still, there is more work to be done to properly institutionalise the concept, especially for government and private individuals as well.
This next phase of the evolution must be properly guided by all stakeholders.