Vanguard (Lagos)

1 March 2014

Nigeria: Corporate Social Respnsibilty Practitioners Are Nation Builders - Ayo-Moses

interview

Ogedengbe Ayo Moses is a young, experienced and vibrant chattered Public Relations practitioner, anchoring CLAD Projects as the Lead Consultant and Chief Strategy Officer. CLAD Projects is a Corporate Social Responsibility content development company based in Lagos, having its partners in India, United Kingdom, US and United Arab Emirates.

In this interview with Saturday Vanguard Business, he reveals the firm's intention and strategy to impact on Nigerians through corporate social responsibility, hence the challenges and success. Excerpts:

As the Lead Consultant/Chief Strategy Officer, tell us the mission and impact of CLAD projects in Nigeria?

Let me first tell you what we do for you to understand the importance of our mission to the nation. We are a social enterprise with interest in the way and manner we raise and train citizens. We have identified a gap in the educational system and chosen to join hands with corporate entities and social enterprises that focus on developing the country with their resources.

This is why we work with social entrepreneurs, successful caring brands and professionals in the industry, to design and implement programmes that help expedite learning and growth for our young people. As an organisation, it has become our responsibility to research social needs that caring brands can implement in pursuit of their corporate social responsibility objectives.

Our mission is to build an organisation that will help birth a new generation of citizens, whilst delivering tangible returns on efforts to our partners. If you take a look at our vision statement, you will also note that we are resolute in our effort to be the social enterprise industry leader by using the best resource available to deliver innovative solutions.

Now, as lofty as some people may want to say that our vision is, we are not unaware of the fact that we cannot do this alone. This is why we make efforts to reach out to corporations and professionals whose areas of focus have to do with national development. In the industry where our company is primarily operating from, we see Corporate Social Responsibility practitioners as nation builders.

If you take a look at the history of developed countries like the US, Britain, Finland, Singapore and lately, China, you will see that the role of government is primarily to create an enabling environment. The real agents of change and development are corporations that labour to build sustainable wealth. You cannot discuss the historical development of the United States for instance, without talking about companies like US Steel (formerly known as Carnegie Steel), JP Morgan, Ford, Coca-Cola and their likes.

In China, you will see that companies like Huawei are breaking boundaries to support developing markets with innovative solutions with great social impact. Now, we must not forget companies in Nigeria that are making efforts to help in the quest for development. The indigenous ones are also making progress at keeping up with global best practices in Corporate Social Responsibility.

Brands like GTBank, Diamond Bank, Dangote industries, Oando and others. For the Multinational and other foreign brands, you will see the good works of companies like NESTLE, Chevron, Shell and others. The truth is that the cumulative spending of these corporations is encouraging, but with no iota of doubt in our hearts, we believe they can do more. We cannot fully discuss the changes that have occurred in the Nigerian Social business environment without giving credit to the people that it is due.

Of a particular interest for reckoning is Dr Ken Ovat Egbas of TruContact Communications- Conveners of the Social Enterprise Awards and Reports. Prior to the annual events, social enterprise was not a thing of pride to many brands. But today, the story is different.

If Nigeria is to make tangible progress, our people- consumers, employees, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and regulatory agencies must pay attention to brands that are making efforts to help develop the nation. Their efforts must be rewarded, and commensurately so, in other to motivate them as we seek to fast-track the process of national growth.

What is your take on Corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria?

Corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria has come a long way. And I believe it also has a farther way to go. We must thank Public Relations practitioners in the country that quickly identified the need for the industry to be organised. In any case, Corporate Social Responsibility is a core Public Relations function.

One cannot really single out an individual for reckoning when it comes to the people that made real efforts to give the industry a sure footing. Again, it is important to note that the real for-bearers of Corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria are the multinational brands that came into the country and found need to put a balance to the negative effects that their business activities were causing to the environment of people in communities where they operated.

As the country became democratic, the need to run an open system became more apparent to corporations in keeping up to global best practices. Although when we talk about Corporate Responsibility, most brands always think about corporate philanthropy alone. Corporate philanthropy is the entry point in the CSR Fusion. We must look at employee rights, consumer rights, Global Reporting Initiative, the investor and the environment.

For those who care to listen, we try to make them know that it is more than just philanthropy. Corporate Responsibility is more about how a company does business. It is about how the laws of the land, the rights of the employees, the consumers, the investors and the communities are respected as the company pursues its business objective, which is primarily to make profit.

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