African Business Culture Tips: Part 2 – CSR is Dead
There is a very deceptive paradox in the fact that in places like Africa the conversations around CSR are hopelessly archaic while at the same time the way CSR is done can be quite broad-minded.
Words like “social enterprise”, “social innovation”, and “triple bottom-line” etc. induce little more than bafflement in the African boardroom. Corporate foundations and plain vanilla corporate philanthropy have however long enjoyed recognition. When you look closely however you will discover a serious fatigue about these age-long activities. The media is tired of it; communities are sceptical of corporate intent; and employees are completely detached from it, even more so than the West.
In a just-ended survey of American businesses in West Africa – carried out by a think-tank in the region – less than 1 percent of employees considered philanthropic volunteering as worth their while.
This was the context when a telecom company in Ghana decided to spend its CSR dollars supporting, nurturing and profiling successful already active social enterprises in Ghana. The television series they launched has been a massive hit, and they are seen to have completely outshone their rivals. People are tired of shedding tears of gratitude in the so-called developing world. There is a flood of the aspirational wherever you look. If you are going to spray a bit of shareholders’ cash around to pull some cred, better to go with the flow.
Read Part 3: Don’t Confuse “Culture” with “Structure”