The need for a common platform to harmonise the contributions of corporate entities to socio-economic growth took a centre stage at the seventh edition of the national Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Partnership Conference held in Accra yesterday.
The conference, which aimed at fostering partnerships among stakeholders in carrying out CSR activities in line with goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), was on the theme: 'Harnessing local partnership for CSR and sustainability.'
Organised by the Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, West Africa, in partnership with Plan International, an international non-governmental organisation, the conference brought together major players in the CSR spectrum including business associations, private sector, regulatory agencies, academia, civil society among others.
Speaking at the conference, the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries, Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, commended the "shift in attitudes to CSR among many Ghanaian business leaders" in recent times, a development he observed, demonstrated "our ownership of the country's growth and development story".
He, however, deplored the situation where CSR activities were done in isolation by companies, making it difficult to track progress for comprehensive results, hence the need to build partnerships for holistic development.
"For me, partnership is one of the easiest ways to leapfrog. There is power in partnership because what has taken you longer time, effort and resources to achieve, with partnership, you can achieve it faster, better and more effectively," he said.
Making reference to the National CSR Policy launched in 2016, expected to provide framework and guidance for effective collaboration of all firms to improve sustainable livelihoods, Mr Akpeloo asked that more impetus must be given to the policy for desired outcomes.
Solomon Tesfa Mariam, Country Director of Plan International Ghana, said the "responsibility for holistic development should always be a shared obligation among all relevant stakeholders in society".
Outlining series of interventions embarked upon by the NGO in Ghana, the Country Director said a lot more could have been done if there were collaborations between stakeholders on areas of mutual interest.
"A lot of you have already done so much with CSR all by yourselves and thankfully you have positive results to show but our collective achievements could be monumental if we all decide to work together on projects that targets the neediest population and communities, especially in rural Ghana," he said.
Dr Jemima Nunoo, a lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), enumerated benefits of CSR including brand recognition, increase in sales, and attraction of quality human resource among others, intimating that, harmonisation of CSR projects was critical to bring about greater societal impact.
On her part, Maki Ozawa, a Senior Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), urged organisations carrying out CSRs to do more than just giving donations to people saying, "Social responsibility goes beyond donations, but understanding the real needs of people and impact in their lives."