Businesses primarily exist to make profit. The profit motive has often been perceived as representing a lack of concern for all other objectives of an organization. However, today, businesses are realizing that in order to stay profitable in a rapidly changing environment, they would have to become socially responsible. Therefore, the belief that beyond making profit for the shareholders, business enterprises should also serve the interests of all other stakeholders has culminated into the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Presently, businesses continually face pressures from different stakeholders, such as employee pressures to recognize certain employee rights in the workplace, consumer pressures for the business to withhold price increase and to produce safe products, community and environmental pressures that the business operation does not threaten the safety of the local community.
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In Nigeria, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, 14th May 2008 approved the development of a CSR policy for the country, to instill ethical behavior in Nigeria businesses. The then Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr, Sanusi Daggash, who gave details of the memorandum said it referred to the adoption of responsible business practice by organizations, to improve the society at large: He said the policy would include "beyond law commitment" and activities that would necessitate an expectation to 'give back' to the society
Nigeria, being one of the world largest producers of crude oil to some extent, has experienced some rapid economic and technological development that has, in turn brought about higher levels of education, better standards of living and greater affluence amongst Nigerians
Since the advent of mobile telecommunication into Nigeria arising from deregulation and liberalization of the economy in 2001, the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) industry have been responsible for the employment of millions of Nigerian citizens, either as distributors or retailers of GSM phones, recharge card sellers or GSM phone repairers. This sector has in no mean way boost the country’s economy.
The sector has undertaken several CSR efforts as Education intervention; Economic empowerment such as giving micro-credit, skill acquisition, employment creation, capacity building; Health intervention in malaria and AIDS treatment; bio-degradable recharge cards that do not damage the environment; Housing intervention; MTNF- F.L.O.W project in partnership with Integrated Dairy Farm Ltd for the Fulanis; MTNF Disability Support project (CDC), ‘Disability and U’; Education support such as school furniture project in the Niger Delta; Health intervention such as breast cancer project and National Action Committee against Aids(NACA) support; monthly free sms and airtime bonus; sinking of boreholes in communities.
Glomobile’s Sports sponsoring is its major CSR focus. Others are establishment of call centres for unemployed youths in partnership with National Poverty Eradications Programme (NAPEP); Partnership with Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) towards poverty eradication; Supports annual Nigerian Institute of Management competition for young managers ; sponsorship of Glo Naija sings and Glo heritage series- ‘Ojude-oba’ and ‘Ofala’festivals.
Etisalat’s Educational development to work with broadband technology; sponsorship of CSR department in the Lagos Business School; Annual Merit Award/ scholarships to Nigerian University students; Health intervention.
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The Banking sector has equally left indelible footprints in Nigeria’s CSR ecosystem. According to a report in the Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development Vol 5, No 22, 2014, This study revealed that generally in Nigeria, banks commit less than 3% of their profit after tax on CSR .The analysis above shows that First Bank committed 2% of their profit on CSR initiatives, Guaranty Trust Bank 0.6%, Access Bank 1.3%, First City Monument Bank 0.7%, Unity Bank 0.9% and Diamond Bank 2.5%. This percentage of commitment even while commendable is still relatively low with huge profits made especially when compared to CSR commitments of banks in developed nations. The study further revealed that most of the banks CSR philosophy is based on three bottom lines or principles Economic/Financial, Social, Community/Health and Environment. Finally, the study discovered that banks employ the use of both internal and external mode of CSR delivery as foundations and partnership with in-house CSR department to deliver and champion CSR endeavors.
The expository analysis of CSR Footprints in two of Nigeria’s major sectors shows that the CSR culture is indeed alive in Nigeria’s corporate business ecosystem. Of note is the fact that the culture is still haphazardly practiced with no institutional regulation or sectorial benchmarking. While there is much to be desire from the CSR practices of companies in Nigeria, it is pertinent to note equally that a greater number of Nigerians are benefiting from the activities CSR drives.
The onus thus is on governments and stakeholders across board to ensure the speedy fast tracking of the proposed CSR Bill in Nigeria, seeing as it is that the Bill provides for the establishment of CSR commission to provide and develop policies for implementation of CSR in the country. Companies should be encouraged to engage in CSR activities just s the people should be educated and enlightened on the ethos of CSR and to patronize companies that engage in CSR.
The Nigerian government needs to secure the buy-in of businesses and stakeholders around the Sustainable Development Agenda by communicating a coherent vision around infrastructural development as well as the ease of doing business. There need to be a shared vision for growth that captures the entirety of the MDAs at all levels of the federation.