Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Nigeria is almost as old as the country as it could be traced to 1956 when crude oil was found in Oloibiri, Niger Delta Region of the nation.
The region has perennially suffered from environmental neglect, crumbling infrastructures and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty and endemic conflict.
These led to calls for oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to demonstrate the value of their investments to Nigeria by undertaking increased community development initiatives that provide direct social benefits such as local employment, new infrastructure, schools, and improved health care delivery.
What it means
CSR can be described as an instrument, concept or business model that requires companies to apply a radical change in attitude by contributing to the development of their operating environment (without intentions of making profit).
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For instance, Nigerian banks adopted the concept when the Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles was introduced by the Bankers’ Committee in 2012. Since then, many of the financial institutions have continued to support their societies.
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Perception from some quarters
Despite its global acceptability, some individuals and organisations still hold the view that local business firms are immune when it comes to contributing to the societies where they operate.
While some believed the initiative is only meant for blue-chip companies, others argued it is a waste of money they thought could be invested in their companies.
But little did they know that CSR and sustainability need more attention as well as other management concerns. CSR experts have argued over time that the concept is not restricted to big organizations alone.
According to them, the investment can only vary, depending on the size and annual turnover of companies. Regardless of size and annual earnings, a responsible company should aspire to contribute to societal growth.
Having stated this, CSR investment can now depend on what a company can afford, as there is nowhere in the world where government is able to solve all the problems. This made BLK Prestige Investment Limited impacts lives across education institutions, motherless baby’s homes and other communities government could not reach.
With a surge in global population, which does not exempt Nigeria, government alone cannot provide all the social needs but by provision of enabling environment for businesses to flourish, owners of such businesses will appear to be responsible when they set aside a small proportion of their 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 companies like BLK Prestige Investment Limited have been lifting the society as well as building its brand equity.
CSR has become one of the standard business practices for reputable organisations in the country. It has also helped in enhancing the overall reputation of a lot of firms, especially in the financial sector where competitors strive to outshine each other.
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 like BLK Prestige Investment Limited have understood the importance of CSR while some are still living in the past.
Banks as case study
Most of the commercial banks and other organisations across the economy have injected much funds to the initiative over the years. While it may be difficult to substantiate the total amount foreign and local firms operating in Nigeria spend on CSR projects, Nairametrics’ reported recently that 15 banks spent over N8 billion on their CSR projects in 2018.
While Zenith Bank Plc spent N3.06 billion, UBA spent N1.04 billion, GTBank spent N928.07 million, FBN spent N831 million, Access Bank (N376.75 million), FCMB (N315.80), Sterling Bank (N299.01 million), Stanbic IBTC (N233.40 million), Fidelity (N158.36 million), Wema Bank (N34.62 million), Union Bank (N30.20 million) and Unity Bank (N13.38 million).
The fund was spent on several projects that either impacted or impacting on several communities across the nation. Some of the projects are facelifts of Herbert Macaulay Library, Musical Society of Nigeria, Lagos, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, provision of basic infrastructure like water, road; health facilities, security trust funds and scholarships to students among others.
These activities of the banks and BLK Prestige Investment Limited have made life easier for residents in both rural and urban areas.