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Nigeria’s corporate citizens and corporate social interventions

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Economy

After the usual lull that characterises the first month of the year, every sector of the Nigerian life anticipates a shot in the arm to boost economic activities. The expectation is not far-fetched.

Goldman Sachs Economics Research predicts 4% Gross Domestic Products growth in 2018, up from 3.7% in the previous year. For Nigeria, which plunged into recession in the second quarter of 2016 but leapt out of it in the corresponding quarter of last year, there is also cheering news.

The Nigerian economy will grow by 1.9% this year, the International Monetary Fund predicted.

The various sectors of the economy, including agriculture, telecommunications, financial services, brewery, real estate, FMCG and more should feel positive vibes. Existing companies and incoming investors have geared up themselves to have a reasonable share of the different markets.

While they roll out their marketing activities, corporate citizens are not unmindful of their responsibilities to the society. A robust corporate social investment strategy has become engrained in the DNA of not a few companies. Without their markets and their various stakeholder groups, the companies are conscious of the fact that there would be no industry in the first instance.

In the oil and gas sector, Shell Nigeria is reputed for its caring heart. Since 1952, it has supported educational development by assisting its host communities to provide sustainable and qualitative education. This involves active consultation at all stages of development planning, implementation and evaluation, with all stakeholders.

As at 2014, Shell Nigeria has invested $14.8 million in scholarships through Shell Petroleum Development Company and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company. Shell and other companies in the sector provide intervention and support in several other areas, including healthcare, youth empowerment and community health.

In the telecommunications sector, there are a myriad of CSR activities. Indeed, the leading operator in Nigeria, MTN was only a few years old in the country when it launched the MTN Foundation in 2005, which today has become one of the reference points in corporate social investments in Nigeria. MTN Foundation provides support in critical areas – education, health and economic empowerment.

In the Nigerian brewery sector, Nigerian Breweries Plc has established industry leadership in corporate social responsibilities with interventions in education, health, water and community development and sports, among other areas. A socially responsible corporate organisation with a good track record of corporate social initiatives, the company’s CSR is driven by a vision to always “Win with Nigeria”. Over the years, it has been very active in supporting national development aspirations in line with that vision.

For instance, the long held belief that teachers’ reward is in heaven was demystified by the Maltina Teacher-of-the-Year. The award, instituted by Maltina, the non-alcoholic malt brand of the company, is courtesy of Nigerian Breweries-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund, aimed at restoring the pride of teachers and the dignity of the teaching profession.

The project has produced three winners till date emerging from Anambra (2015) Akwa Ibom (2016) and Delta (2017). Apart from the cash prizes to the winners, blocks of classrooms were also built and donated to the schools of the winning teachers. The Maltina Teacher Award has also impacted positively on the number of teachers seeking to be professionals in Nigeria

To promote health and safety of citizens, the company, through the Heineken Africa Foundation, has built and upgraded several primary and secondary health facilities across the country. Linked to this is the fact that the company has changed from Low Pour Fuel Oil to natural gas, which is a cleaner source of fuel in more of its breweries.

Youth Empowerment and Talent Development is another critical area where Nigerian Breweries has been very active, sponsoring several competitions and programmes. The investments in this regard are driven by the recognition that talented young people need platforms and opportunities to showcase their talents, while being encouraged and rewarded.

Today, Nigerian Breweries Plc remains the foremost sponsor of sports in the country with sponsorship covering football, athletics, tennis, cycling, chess, golf, squash, dart, sailing and ayo, over the years. The aim is to develop Nigerian sportsmen and women to participate in national and international sports, and boost the sports profile of the country.

The company has just thrown its heavy weight behind the Nigerian national football team – the Super Eagles – who are preparing to storm Russia in June for this year’s FIFA World Cup. The sponsorship and brand deal with the Nigeria Football Federation makes Star Larger the Official Alcoholic Drink of the Super Eagles, while Amstel Malta is the Official Malt Drink of the NFF and the national teams.

In recognition of its vast CSR footprints across the country, Nigerian Breweries Plc was awarded the Most Socially Responsible Company in Nigeria at the 2014 edition of the Social Enterprise and Report Awards – SERAs, Nigeria’s highly acclaimed CSR Awards.

On its part, Guinness Nigeria Plc has intervened in several communities across the country thereby helping to enhance the socio-economic development and general well-being of the people. These interventions cover healthcare, water and sanitation, and economic empowerment. It is noteworthy that these areas of concentration are pivotal and instrumental to fostering socio-economic development and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals which, if combined would make Nigeria more investment friendly and a better place for its people.

Fidelity Bank is one of the financial institutions active in the CSR space. Its projects focus on the environment, education and health/social welfare, while Guaranty Trust Bank is strong on community development, education, environment and arts.

The list is endless. In whatever area the corporate citizens find of interest, the thread that binds them is striking a bond between their businesses and the people that make their existence and growth happen. With the predicted good fortune this year, the intensity of CSR projects cannot but be expected.

Akanmu is a public affairs analyst, lives in Lagos.


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