East African companies have been commended for their commitment to improving livelihoods of communities through value driven socially responsible programmes.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the inaugural East African Corporate Social Responsibility Awards (CSR) in Dar es Salaam last week, Tanzania, the Vice Chairman of East African Business Council, Mr keli Kiilu, said it is fantastic to see that so many businesses have taken part in these inaugural awards and the variety of entries received reflects the increasingly sophisticated nature of corporate social responsibility, going beyond simple philanthropy to more creative and strategic initiatives which support key stakeholders.
“We believe in the power of the private sector to facilitate sustainable development and growth. Not simply through tax revenue generation and employment provision but as a major driving force behind poverty alleviation,” Kiilu said.
Tullow Uganda Operations (pty) Limited, the company behind oil exploration in Uganda, won the Most Sustainable and Scalable Community Investment Award at the just concluded East African CSR Awards in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Awards organized by African Practice which hosts the Awards Secretariat in Partnership with East African Business Council sought to reward companies from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ugandan businesses for their excellent corporate social responsibility.
The Awards were sponsored by Bank M of Tanzania and Dow Chemicals Africa Limited.
Out of several entries collected from companies across East Africa, Unilever Tea Tanzania, Unilever Tea Kenya, Sandali Woods Limited of Tanzania, and Eastern Produce of Kenya were rewarded, in respective categories, for outstanding and innovative initiatives that create a high social and environmental benefit for the community and the business.
The concept of East African CSR Awards was born out of an acute awareness that corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities have increased substantially over the past decade in East Africa.
Consequently, there has been an encouraging debate about what constitutes for good CSR and how it can act as a positive force for the region’s social, environmental and economic development.
It is not the first time that awards have been granted for good CSR practice in developing countries.
Tullow Uganda Operations limited won for its community driven programme for improving infrastructure, health, education, and natural resource management.
The programme also assists business operations and government plans by highlighting issues raised by the community.
In this category, the judges highly commended Mabati Rolling Mills project that delivers vocational skills training to school leavers from underprivileged homes.
Unilever Tea Tanzania and Unilever Tea Kenya were the joint winners in the Best Workplace Practice Category for their lightening detection system whose aim was to create safe work environment for company employees through implementation of lightning safety, one of the greatest risks facing their businesses.
As a result, the number of fatalities and false evacuations which had negatively impacted on productivity have since reduced. The judges highly commended Safaricom Foundation’s world of difference programme which provides sustainable technical skills and knowledge transfer to the foundation’s project partners through secondment of Safaricom staff.
The most ethical and responsible business practice for supply chains award went to Sandali Wood Industries Limited of Tanzania for its Responsible Chain Custody project.
Under the project, the company aims to give villagers greater financial returns for their labour and make them direct custodians of their natural resource thereby increasing efficiency of the harvested resource.
The Judges highly commended Uganda’s Nile Breweries for their from Grain to Grass project which gives training on HIV prevention to farmers who grow barley and sorghum for beer, the community neighboring the brewery and markets, as well as workers who sell beer to consumers.
The effects of climate change have seen more companies focus their corporate social responsibility to environmental projects and Eastern Produce Kenya Limited was awarded for its environmental excellence.
The winning project incorporates awareness of environmental and ecological issues in the day to day management of the estate.
This includes managing and enhancing water resources, elimination of soil erosion, re-forestation with indigenous species, conservation and diversity as well as sustainable forest management.
Unilever Tanzania was highly commended for its Indegenous Forest Conservation project.