Guinness Nigeria: Expanding Brand Equity With CSR Projects
WHEN the list of companies in Nigeria that understand the place of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in business growth and development is being compiled, Guinness Nigeria Plc will surely be among the top-of-the-ladder contestants.
As part of a global brand, the company believes it has a duty to contribute to the communities in which it does business in Nigeria. Diageo, Guinness Nigeria’s parent company, recently released its sustainability and responsibility targets for 2020 which succinctly lay out the company’s plans for tackling issues in three key areas — leading the alcohol in society discourse, building thriving communities and reducing environmental impact. In its statement to announce the 2020 targets, the company said: “At Diageo we believe celebrating life, every day, everywhere means to make the most of life — to be the best you can be at work, at home, with friends, in the community, and for the community.
We want our people to progress and fulfill their potential and our company to be a leader, to always make a positive contribution to society, to create shared value, wherever we work.” It is against this backdrop that the company has embarked upon development projects in Oregbeni, the host community for its Benin City brewery in Edo State. Over the years, the company has shown its commitment to community development by consistently attending a monthly all-parties meeting to discuss critical issues aimed at strengthening existing relationships and the developmental challenges facing the community.
It was through this meeting and further consultations that key areas of need and intervention for the Oregbeni community development were highlighted. Top on the priority of the list of interventions is the construction of three major roads for the community. The roads are Igiesota, Ighodalo and Iyoha roads.
Igiesota and Ighodalo roads have both been constructed with side drains and walk ways. Phase one of Iyoha, which is the longest road among the three has been completed and was commissioned by the Executive Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on November 14, 2013. The Governor was so pleased with the quality of the construction work carried out on the road that he enthusiastically decided to rename it Guinness Way.
Plans to commence the second phase of the construction work on the road are underway. Beyond roads, the company has also intervened in the area of education from the renovation of the only primary school in the community to providing scholarships to Oregbeni indigenes. Before the renovation of the school, it was bedeviled by a barrage of problems ranging from bad roofs, defaced walls to broken windows and doors, and lack of basic amenities such as toilet facilities and perimeter fencing of the school compound.
The company ploughed a huge sum of money into the renovation effort changing the entire roofs of the school, painting of the entire school buildings, fencing of the school compound, replacing broken doors and windows as well as providing toilet facilities for both staff and pupils of the school. In addition to the renovation of the school, the organisation provided an overhead tank for water supply and donated textbooks and notebooks to the school.
Still under education, from 2007 till date, Guinness Nigeria has an ongoing scholarship scheme which gives indigenes of Oregbeni community an opportunity to study at various tertiary institutions in the country via its scholarship initiative in education. Many beneficiaries of the scheme are still receiving critical life skills via the Guinness Ex-Scholars Excellence Programme (GEEP), which was set up by the company to further provide an avenue for the scholars to further arm themselves with the capabilities to survive in the modern working environment.
Guinness Nigeria and Diageo also have a commitment to “reduce water use through a 50 per cent improvement in water use efficiency as well as return 100 per cent of waste water from our operations to the environment safely.” In the Nigerian environment, the company’s ‘Water of Life’ scheme has provided water to over 1 million Nigerians across the six geopolitical zones in the country. In Oregbeni community, the company installed a water treatment plant in 2007 consisting of two giant reservoirs with standby 20 KVA generator to complement public power supply. Guinness also supplies diesel every month with back-up services and has provided a paid operator to ensure constant water supply to the community.
The relationship between Guinness and the community appears to be the poster child for community-business relations especially when you consider other interventions like giving indigenes the right of first refusal to bid and qualify for the implementation of community related projects, like the expansion of its packaging line in its Benin Brewery as well as employment of skilled indigenes into various roles within the company. For Guinness Nigeria, the interests of its host communities are at the very heart of its operations and the blueprint of operations within the Oregbeni community can be seen in other host communities where the company has a base right across the country.