Audu Mikori, Akingbolu and Vanessa Oghome-Ogida at the award event … recently

By Funke Olaode

It was the 10th edition of the Social Enterprise Report Awards, otherwise known as SERAS CSR Awards, held at the Muson Centre, Lagos. This year’s edition was important to the organisers for many reasons and so stakeholders expected more from it. Aside marking a decade of promoting social responsibility and sustainability, the award appears to have become the wheels for driving sustainable development in Africa.

The initiator of the award, who doubles as the CEO of TruContact CSR Nigeria, Mr. Ken Egbas, set the tone for the night, when he expressed how happy he was to see that the idea conceived in 2005 and commenced two years later now marks the 10th year since the initial rollout. With so much passion and appreciation, he spoke for a while and singled out some individuals and organisations, who he said had consistently supported the idea.

Considering the high mortality rate of such events and organisations in Nigeria, not a few guests and winners came out to eulogise Ken and his team for nurturing the award to the height it had reached. African leaders and top players in business and political environments, including the President of Republic of Botswana, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama lan Khama, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Pan-Atlantic University, Dr Christopher Kolade, a former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, and many others, sent in their goodwill messages to identify with the ceremony.

The panel, which had the founder and director of Chrysalis Family Futures as leader, also paraded six experts, drawn from relevant fields, including a former chairman of Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Mrs. Nkechi Ali-Balogun.

At the end of their painstaking work on all entries, 41 individuals and organisations were recognised, either as winners or nominees. Raheem Akingbolu of THISDAY won the Award for CSR Reporting, Print/Online category. He defeated Mr. Gbenga Salau of The Guardian (1st Runner up) and Mr. Adedeji Ademigbuji of The Nation (2nd Runner up).

Nigeria’s leading Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning (EPCC) Services Company, Nestoil Limited, also emerged as the ‘Best Company’ in Infrastructural Development’ beating Exxon Mobil, GT Bank, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), OANDO Foundation and MTN Nigeria. Also, Lafarge Africa Plc, a leading construction solutions company in Nigeria clinched the Best Company in Stakeholder Engagement in Nigeria awards, while MultiChoice, the leading Pay TV operator, was awarded the ‘Most Improved Company’. Other winners include; Nigerian Breweries, Access Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Edumark Consult, among others.

Reacting to the award, Akingbolu, whose entry; ‘Farmers are Kings Here’ focuses on the British America Tobacco Foundation’s support for farmers, said the story took him to all the nooks and crannies of Oke Ogun part of Oyo State last year to see how farmers are benefiting from BATF initiative.

“I dedicate the award to the organisation-THISDAY Newspapers- that offered me the platform to excel, and to all organisations that still see the need to contribute to the society, despite the current economic hardship.

To put together the story that won this award, I travelled to Iseyin, Ogbooro, Otu and other three towns and villages in Oke Ogun, where BAT is assisting farmers to invest in cassava, maize and other food crops outside their main tobacco farming. Having said this, I appreciate the effort of the organisers of SERA Awards.”