Corporate social responsibility is a relatively new topic in Kenya but nevertheless one of great importance. It calls for active participation by all stakeholders in the economy i.e. international organizations, local NGOs, national and international companies in eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development in their countries of operation. In other words it can be termed as ‘giving back to the community’ in such areas as labour standards and protection of the environment.
According to CSR- WeltWeit (http://www.csr-weltweit.de), companies are expected to make investments, create jobs and provide training opportunities. Corporate support for vocational training is particularly important because Kenyan workers often lack necessary skills. In particular, foreign companies are expected to play a role in their immediate areas of influence, for example by providing housing, transportation, medical services, pensions and health insurance for their employees and their families. Education, too, is an important area in which companies can make a contribution. Especially in rural areas, the public educational system often leaves much to be desired, and many people cannot afford to send their children to private schools. Companies often set up foundations or aid funds in these areas.
In Kenya, the United Nations programs deserves commendation for having being among the first to practise the concept of CSR through the UN Global Compact, the UNDP Growing Sustainable Business Initiative and the UNIDO project for the electrification of rural areas (Lighting up Kenya). Other companies that should be given a thumbs-up include(as per the Bank M East African CSR Awards) Sarova hotels resorts & Game lodges, Unilever Tea Kenya limited and Coca Cola East Africa.
UIP(Urban Innovations Project)/ CURI(Centre for Urban Research and Innovations), in its mandate to enhance a more sustainable and habitable urban environment, urges companies to do more in the spirit of Corporate Social Responsibility. There should be evidence of CSR activity within the immediate residential and general surroundings of major companies.
The EABL Foundation mission statement on environmental impact states as follows: “We aim to achieve continuous improvement in environmental performance, concentrating our efforts on areas of greatest impact at our manufacturing and distribution points. Our company’s stringent environmental policy ensures that all our facilities are challenged to keep improving their performance in these areas.” After a smooth ride on the Thika Road Mega-highway, the contrast experienced by Ngumba Estate residents on their 2km homestretch road that also serves the EABL Tusker house as well as their factory is nothing new; the road that runs through East African Breweries has been neglected for many years. Being the first company in East Africa to have attained the $1 billion worth, a kind suggestion would be that the company direct some of its corporate social responsibility funds to improving this road. It would be quite refreshing to see EABL CSR activities impact significantly on Ngumba Estate seeing as it is sandwiched between Kenya Breweries and Central Glass Ltd, all belonging to EABL.
In a nutshell, the goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility by companies for their actions and to encourage a positive impact through their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. We urge all to come on board.
Written by Judith Achieng’