The Relationship Between Technology And CSR For Organisations in Africa - Sundiata Tech

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Relationship Between Technology And CSR For Organisations in Africa

The times companies viewed corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes as burdensome have passed, Jumoke Akiyode-Lawanson writes that today, businesses around the world, spurred by technologically inclined consumers as well as a rising generation of more socially conscious business leaders, are making CSR a priority, embedding it into their operations and using it to attract and keep talent.

To these companies the desire to be known for doing good and giving back drives their core business strategy as opposed to merely donating to worthy causes.

The corporate social responsibility stories that make headlines are large-scale, organisation-wide efforts and some of them are really remarkable.

In the next five years, Google plans to give $1 billion in grants and 1 million employee volunteer hours, IBM’s travel programme sends their best employees to developing nations to use their talents on pro-bono assignments, Patagonia’s Action Works initiative supports grassroots environmental activism by pairing individual volunteers with non-profits in their communities, and Microsoft gavenon-profits $1.2 billion in services and software last year.

The above named companies have made remarkable success because they started to look at CSR as a creative opportunity to fundamentally strengthen their businesses while contributing to society at the same time. They view CSR as central to their overall strategies, helping them to creatively address key business issues. Because of their scale, these corporate programmes have a deep and obvious impact on the planet. But they can have a staggering effect on a smaller scale too.

This year, the technology landscape in Nigeria witnessed a major shift, one that will further improve the practice of CSR in Africa, as Tek Experts and Microsoft joined forces to establish a Customer Service and Support (CSS) centre in Lagos.

Tek Experts debut in Nigeria follows the successful establishment of similar centres in other global locations. From the time of its launch, the company strongly expressed commitment to supporting talented individuals around the world and providing them with long and rewarding careers with partners such as Microsoft Nigeria.

Speaking on the commitment of the company to investing in people, Yaniv Natan, founder of Tek Experts, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Microsoft in developing talent that will improve the technology landscape in Nigeria and leverage the skills and expertise of Nigerians to provide great levels of service to customers as we have done in other locations around the world. We are committed to investing in the region and the people, and to raising the profile of Nigeria as an exceptional location for technical talent.”

Elsewhere in Cameroon, just one person and 20 computers were enough to transform the future of the several youths in the country. Yembe Nfor, a young man from Cameroon with a vision for bringing technology to his country had a dream, he wanted a space where people in his city could access the internet.

Several factors, however, stood between Yembe and his desire, economic development in Cameroon is slow, in part because of a lack of access to technology. Just 18 percent of its 24 million citizens have access to the internet, and even fewer own a personal computer.

Without technological resources, young people in Yembe’s country—and more than 60 percent of Cameroonians who are under the age of 25—struggle to get the education they need to provide skilled labour to employers and better their lives.

A chance meeting through a mutual friend introduced Execs In The Know co-founders, Chad and Susan McDaniel to Yembe Nfor, and his story and vision inspired them so much, they asked him to share his message with their children.

His vision for these Digital Spaces inspired Chad and Susan, and they started exploring the EITK community for a corporate partner that could bring his ideas to life. They shared his story with Aileen Allkins, Microsoft corporate vice president, Customer Service and Support. Aileen reached out to her network and contacted Tek Experts, which uses an expert workforce to provide business and IT outsourcing services.

The company pledged their support: Tek Experts would donate 20 laptops to Yembe’s Digital Spaces project. In addition, Susan would bring her expertise to Digital Spaces as a board member.

Yembe has worked very hard to change the trajectory of Cameroon’s future, and his efforts have made an impact. In 2017, he was awarded a Mandela Washington Fellowship, which brings promising leaders in sub-Saharan Africa to the US to study at a college or university. After their education ends, Fellows like Yembe return to their home countries and receive continued professional development support.

Speaking on the link between a company’s values and its CSR strategy, Raymond Murray, global marketing director, Tek Experts, said, “The most successful CSR programs are inextricably linked to organisations’ core values.

“Tek Experts built its business on offering exceptional career and development opportunities to our employees around the world and when we heard Yembe’s story, we really wanted to help.”

As the likes of Tek Experts and Microsoft consolidate their CSR activities in Africa and on the global stage, it is worthy of note that committing to socially responsible practices is not just about addressing challenges, there are also huge opportunities. Unlike corporate philanthropy, the rewards of real CSR go way beyond reputational risk mitigation or a getting out a good PR story, it involves a deliberate attempt at making impact, building trust and credibility.

For tech companies, especially at a time when brand trust is becoming increasingly difficult to earn, successful CSR today must be meaningful,relevant and transparent at heart. BD

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