Home-grown corporate social responsibility: Transforming Africa

Africa has a stormy history on one hand and an empowering story of resilience and unity on the other. The highs and lows of this history have left marginalized communities vulnerable: if not remedied, the result will be an immense loss of human potential, something we cannot allow to happen.

 

Addressing the loss of human potential

  1. One part of the solution to this challenging problem lies in the advancement of youth economic empowerment. As a society, we must inspire young people to uplift their communities through economic development initiatives, as well as using their education to change the lives of their communities. Furthermore, it is imperative for society to continue investing in our youth, creating sustainable solutions for employment and economic productivity. Our youth of today are indeed our leaders of the future, so it follows that investing in their futures should be a priority.
  2. The other answer to the problem lies with business leaders. The very energy that drives business leaders to strive for more success should impel them to reach out and become philanthropists. In my personal capacity and as a CEO I am passionate about Africa and its people, making it my life purpose to make a real difference in the lives of many. I see it as vitally important that business goals are protected and advanced through secure philanthropy and strategic, sustainable principles.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility: The path of the future for the leaders of the future

Human Rights DayWhile corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a concept with several accepted definitions and practices, the definition that I find to be most applicable to me and fellow business leaders is CSR as a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. CSR shouldn’t be viewed as a radically new way of running a company, but rather as the business evolving with society. Whichever definition we choose, the purpose of CSR boils down to driving change towards sustainability.

A discussion about CSR wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our future leaders, namely millennials, who are already entering the world of business. Born into a digital era of mass media, millennials have become experts at filtering through a daily information overload, including misleading content. They are suspicious of advertising and marketing messages directed at them, always questioning companies’ true motives. From both the perspective of buyer and employee, millennials strongly favour businesses with transparency and a pure commitment to give back to society. For example, a 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study found that millennials are “prepared to make personal sacrifices to make an impact on issues they care about, whether that’s paying more for a product, sharing products rather than buying, or taking a pay cut to work for a responsible company.”

This new generation’s suspicion of business motives combined with their desire to actively make an impact on the world has resulted in an overwhelming demand for companies to include CSR into their business strategy. Knowing this and the unique African context why is it unique to Africa where a loss of human potential must be avoided at all costs, the question going forward is: “How do we use CSR to transform Africa?”.

For business leaders, a significant part of the answers lies in nurturing home-grown philanthropy and employing a team of employees who share our passion for giving back.

 

Nurturing a new trend: Home-grown African philanthropy

At Carrick’s Annual 20/20: Opportunity Africa Conference, one of my fellow philanthropists and good friends, Dr Tendai Murisa (executive director of TrustAfrica) illuminated the path of the future in his arena of passion and expertise, namely sustainable philanthropy in Africa. When I first met Dr Murisa I was fascinated by his embedded passion to make a sustainable change in Africa. For me, one (of the many) highlights of his speech was the need to nurture and promote a new trend on the African continent, namely home-grown philanthropy: shifting from an old view of philanthropy as external (international) aid to recognising that Africa should focus on the opportunities surrounding the contribution of internal philanthropy. The emerging generation of entrepreneurs, a considerable number of whom are committed to the continent’s development, will be the ones to drive this growing movement. Along with this trend, is an increased recognition of the role that philanthropy can play in Africa’s quest for equitable and democratic transformation.

Impelled to drive change

In conclusion: With rising deprivation, environmental stress and injustice all over the world, our common humanity demands that those who have more should be impelled to give. Individual South Africans can help transform Africa. Let us be the change we want to see in our country and the world.

 

Craig Featherby

CEO: Carrick Wealth