CSR as a Launchpad for Development

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Raheem Akingbolu writes on the need for business owners to commit more resources to corporate social responsibility

Despite its global acceptability, some individuals and organisations still hold the view that local business organisations are immune when it comes to contributing to the societies where they operate.
However, the recognition and acceptance of the phenomena of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in developed as well as developing countries has continued to impact positively on societies.

In Nigeria, some companies are waking up fast to the importance of CSR while some are still living in the past.
Lead Consultant/CEO at Thistle Praxis Consulting, a management consulting firm that assists organisations and enterprises to create, define and manage their CSR and sustainability needs as well as other management concerns, Ini Onuk-Abimbola, told THISDAY recently that CSR is not restricted to big organizations alone. According to her, the investment can only vary, depending on size and annual turnover of companies.

“Giving to society where one operates, otherwise known as Corporate Social Responsibility is a global standard business philosophy that all organisations should buy into. Regardless of size and annual earnings, a responsible company should aspire to contribute societal growth. Having stated this, CSR investment can now depend on what a company can afford,”

Speaking further, Onuk-Abimbola stated that with surge in global population, especially in Nigeria, government alone cannot provide all the social needs but by provision of enabling environment for businesses to flourish, owners of such business will appear to be responsible when it set aside a small proportion of its income for society development.

“All over the world, government alone doesn’t attend to all social needs, business owners are expected to be partners in progress by intervening in strategic areas like health, education and provision of social amenities. By doing this, the company is lifting the society as well as building its brand equity,” she added.
This was also the position of the CEO, X3M Ideas, Mr. Steve Babaeko, who admitted during the flagging off of his company’s 2018 CSR project, that there is nowhere in the world where government is able to solve all the problems.

X3M Ideas as example
While Multinationals like Coca Cola, Guinness, Unilever and others are playing in the big league when it comes to CSR, one Nigerian company, X3M Ideas, a full service digital agency, has consistently maintained its relevance in the area of giving to society.

The agency’s commitment to giving back to the under privileged has been exceptional. The agency did not wait till profits started rolling in as it took-off laudable CSR initiatives from the very first year of operations, against the conventional belief that an organisation must have spent a couple of years before taking up CSR initiative(s) to make impact in the society.

This year, the company handed over a well-furnished SS3 classes and administrative block to the management of the State High School, Ikeja GRA. The principal of the senior high school, Mrs. Olajumoke Ilori thanked the management of X3M Ideas for counting the school worthy of the gesture and appreciated the company for supporting the state government in improving education in the state.

Also the Permanent Secretary, Education District VI, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Onadipe appreciated the effort of the agency for turning the school to a beautiful edifice.
She lamented the state of the building before the intervention as an eyesore “the building was the oldest in this compound; it was nothing to write home about. It was always giving us challenge but today you have delighted us with the renovation. The school has the most improved result in the whole state and with this your contribution our result will continue to go up”

She advised the student to make good use of the facilities so others coming behind will use them too
“Make use of the furniture, building, and gadgets. Don’t spoil them so that others coming behind can use them and when you set up your organisation like X3M Ideas, you will not forget your Alma Mater.
In his speech, Babaeko said, “there is nowhere in the world where government is able to solve all the problems but, as a corporate citizen I think we all have the responsibility to find what areas we can intervene, that is what we always do.”

The business, the philosophy
For over six years, the company has been persistent in its yearly corporate social responsibility programmes geared toward impacting lives of students by renovating school blocks and providing IT equipment for learning.
In a country where ease of doing business is high with unfavourable government policies, it takes a good-heart for a company like X3M ideas that recently clocked six years to refrain from the pump and pageantry associated with celebrating anniversaries to selfless service in putting its energy to renovating schools and engaging in community services.

Right from the moment it started operations in 2012, the company has established itself as an avant-garde in the Integrated Marketing Communications industry by setting a path other big wigs could not trail for a long time.
Babaeko said CSR is in DNA of the company because government cannot solve the problems but need support of corporate institutions and individuals.

“One thing about responsibility is that nobody can force an individual or corporate institution to be responsible, but you choose to be a responsible citizen. As a business, you are a corporate citizen, anybody that is expecting that government will solve all the societal problems, then that person’s head is buried somewhere in the cloud.
“There is nowhere in the world where government is able to solve all the problems but, as a corporate citizen I think we all have the responsibility to find what areas we can intervene , that is what we always do”. He said.

How it all started
In August 2011, X3M Ideas clocked one, and in marking the first year anniversary, the company renovated and handed over block of five classrooms (equipped with chairs, desks and chalk boards) to Opebi Junior High School, Opebi, Ikeja Lagos.
The company took up another project in 2013 to marks its second year anniversary as it donated educational materials/ICT tools to enhance teaching of ICT in selected schools in Ikeja.

One of the schools that benefitted from the anniversary’s CSR project was Oregun Senior High School, Oregun, Lagos where ICT tools were donated and handed over to the school principal, Mrs. Toyin Kuti and the vice principal, Mrs. Idowu Deniga. Some of the tools include: two units of laptops (pre-loaded with the required software/computer applications), one unit of multimedia projector, one unit of tripod projection screen and 10 units of UPS.

Also, Community High School Wasimi, Maryland, Lagos got two units of laptops (pre-loaded with the required software/computer applications), one unit of 2HP air-conditioners and 10 Units of UPS for its ICT classroom.
In a shift from the norm, X3M Ideas took its CSR project to new level in 2015 when it clocked 3 years. This time around, the company was at the Lagos State Special Correctional Centre for Boys, popularly known as ‘welfare’ in Oregun. This is a place where children and teenagers who have the propensity to become criminals are kept for intervention.

With CSR, the corporates mainly demonstrate the extra responsibility to earn the goodwill of the market, and CSR helps in building loyalty and trust amongst shareholders, employees and customers. In this sense CSR denotes a voluntary endeavour by businesses to look into the varied issues and concerns of the public at large, apart from the profit-maximising objectives.