This past weekend, I participated in my very first Marathon. The purpose for me was not to win but, to join the many women and men who wanted to use it to showcase the objectives of their cause, tick a box on their bucket list, keep fit, make money and many like me who went in for the fun and experience.
It was a family experience and bonding opportunity for my immediate family. My husband really surprised all of us with his enthusiasm for the event. A few weeks to the date, he started training. Every morning he woke up, donned his sportswear and hit the streets to practice. He became a pain in the neck and almost a broken record encouraging the rest of us to join him to practice and prepare for the Marathon. His phrase was, “I do not want to disgrace myself.”
What surprised and tickled all of us was what he did the day before the event. This is a guy who never really posts on Facebook. He is private about his personal matters, unlike the rest of us. Lo and behold, on my way back from a trip I saw his post announcing his number and asking all the young folks to beware! You can imagine the uproar on Facebook when people learnt that a man of his age intended to participate. Many jokingly teased him about his ability to do it, told him to get a medical check-up first and go with an oxygen tank while others encouraged him and saluted his audacity.
Early the next day, he woke up and forced all of us up at 5:00 am. By 6:00 am, we had been hurried out of the house. We got to the Lekki Roundabout at 6:30 am and the diversions had kicked in. Everything was orderly and civil. The planning and logistics were well done and the security personnel on the roads were helpful and polite. Policemen were located in vantage positions around the city and 7up had positioned their stands with water, refreshment and fruits in strategic locations along the route.
We got to the National Stadium at 7:00 am, the race had commenced. Everything started as planned. You had to clock yourself in, if you wanted to join the race. Yours truly joined the race and did what my power could carry. Two hours plus into the race, we learnt that a Kenyan who won last year had won the prize money. So, I confess, I did not do all, but I tried my best. However, it was a very satisfying and worthwhile day for me and my family.
We ended the race at Eko Atlantic. Being at Eko Atlantic was also an experience, because I kept on remembering the turbulence and the power of the tides at the Bar Beach of a few years ago, now a concrete jungle. It’s amazing what engineering and technology can do.
By the time we got to the finish line, the closing ceremony had begun. The Kenyans got the first, second and third prizes. There was entertainment to cool you down, men on stilts dancing and music from notable Nigerian musicians. You can see that the organisers thought about the well-being of the participants from start to finish.
But as usual, there is always room for improvement. My first observation was that 90% of the water at the Stadium was wasted because the amount of water provided was not needed at the start point. Residents in the environment cashed in and carted dozens of bottled water away. Some even got into fisticuffs over who stole the loot first. Most of the water should have been at the finish line. Many of us did not get water when we finished and resorted to buying water at exorbitant rates from vendors.
Secondly, I believe the first 50-100 should be given certificates of participation, please correct me if wrong. It’s not a joke starting and finishing the race. Effort should be rewarded. This will also engender more participation in future races.
Thirdly, while I agree that, there are benefits in making the race international, as it is good PR and branding for the organizers, having a foreigner winning every race may be discouraging to other participants especially Nigerians. This is an opportunity to bring back our runners from Plateau State, make them better and help them excel.
Fourthly, do we want to consider mini marathons before we get to the grand finale? This will help the amateurs of the sport hone their skills and get ready.
It is without doubt that the event was a huge success and impacted lives positively because everywhere we went to after the race, people recognized that we had just finished the race and kept on asking, “Did you win?, Who won? How much was the prize money? Next year I must participate”
The awareness was effective and the organizers have joined the global train of those ensuring that their giving was not in terms of how much they spent, but how impactful the giving was. Today, this is called “Impact Investing”, one of the exciting developments to emerge from social giving.
According to Forbes, “Impact investing is motivated by an organisation’s mission and degree of social impact. Impact investments are motivated by double or triple bottom-line opportunities to earn a financial return while also doing something good for society. Securing a financial return helps ensure the organisation generates measurable impact that is scalable and self-sustaining over time.”
In view of the above, the potential scale of impact investing is impressive and this is why:
- Studies and surveys indicate that social impact is the number one priority of millennial investors, which sometimes even outweigh a financial return. Think about the goodwill the three organisers will garner in the international market for sponsoring this Marathon especially as it had international appeal and the prize money was sizeable.
- Impact opportunities are emerging as a new asset class for socially conscious investors. Venture Capitalists have termed it “Philanthrocapitalism”. By being very strategic and enterprising in organizing the Marathon, the organisers have been successful in creating social impact that is likely to generate returns in the short to medium term.
- From an external perspective, the organisations achieved good PR, as the Marathon could not be ignored by all media channels – traditional and new. Their reputation was greatly enhanced and many will change their purchasing decisions because of the good will that has been earned. These lead to enhanced profits because positive public perception and media sentiment influences branding and purchasing.
- Internally, the organisations got employee engagement, boosted moral and enhanced team work because they had many staff involved in the process and those not actively involved were proud of the societal impact their brands were making.
It is clear that Lagos State, Access Bank and 7up have built respect and increased their reputation in their communities and internationally. The event was well organised and they showed that they truly care about the well-being and health of members in their communities, even though on the long run they will also benefit financially.
Finally, I’d like to encourage other organisations to get involved in social giving and impact investing. It is good for your business and employees. You can’t go wrong when you impact lives.
Today, I am giving a Holler to Lagos State, Access Bank and 7up for impacting lives, making us experience being in a Marathon and ensuring minimal disruption. Holler!
– Marie-Therese Phido is Sales & Market Strategist and Business Coach
tweeter handle @osat2012; TeL: 08090158156 (text only)