By Princewill Ekwujuru
In this interview, Ken Egbas, Chairman, TruCSR, organisers of the Social Enterprise Report and Awards, SERAs, highlights the benefits of partnering with Forbes and Global 100, and the impact of the partnership on firms taking part in the awards. Excerpt.
TruCSR is partnering some global organisations to push the cause of SERAs, who are these organisations and what value would the partnership add to participating firms?
Before now, we have had partnership with Forbes. We are also currently having partnership with Global 100, that’s the prime rating organisation in the world for organisations making a difference.
They would be taking from Nigeria’s list of Top 50 companies; pick the Top 10 to include in the global 100 to give them more social values.
What impact would that make on Nigerian organisations?
The impact is that it will add value to their work, amplify what they do, it is going to be seen from around the world, not just here anymore.
Let me just give you an instance, there is an Africa sustainability documentary that we ran, when we put these together and went to BBC, they saw this story about Nigeria that it is not only about Boko Haram, that there are some positive things, and that there are some organisations that are behind the social changes, this helped to increase visibility of the organisations and it is a very good way to market and position their brand(s), and even the country.
In the last 13 years, you have really brought CSR to the fore, and I believe more organisations are keying into this. Do you think that these organisations are really making impact on society?
You see, when you start anything like this, it will grow gradually. I remember at the start of this programme, we had a meeting with Dr. Christopher Kolade while we were just doing a research, and he said: “If you don’t put this together to recognise the people that are doing these things, other people wouldn’t join, and we took that up, that actually gave birth to the SERAs awards. What you have are organisations especially those that play in the same market space with other organisations, you will see that the things they do become socially impactful, and become very key brand indicator, and everybody wants to play in that field.
On a yearly basis we have so many of them coming to say come and look at our work, what is missing? It never used to be like that, and we sat down in our office from 2007 to last year to get organisations to answer to the question of how much they spend per year; and we are looking at over N50 billion in the last 10 years that organisations have spent cumulatively with the highest investment coming from oil and gas, followed by telecommunications, which dropped in the last two years.
What do you see going forward in CSR spend?
We cannot develop our society depending only on government responsibilities, responsibility starts individually as a person, then into whatever space that you work, and then you take it from that space and you move into where you have more impact, and because it is something that you have imbibed as an individual, I must succeed as an individual, I must not survive alone and then it becomes an ethos that people will buy into.
Now, the notion is that government collects taxes, and the argument that we have always put forward to people is this: If you wait for government alone, a time will come when you wouldn’t be able to run your business, that is why the United Nations looked at continents like Africa and South America where poverty is pervasive, and said the only way forward is strategic partnership, public-private sector partnership and that is what we want to see more at TruCSR.