CSR: 8 banks spend N1.9bn to make social impact

A total of N1.869 billion was spent by eight Nigerian banks in 2012 on various community-related projects under corporate social responsibility to identify with the society in which they operate. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concept which is deepening among organisations and societies is organisation’s activity to make sustainable impact in society, and which in turn has the potential to create positive effect on business.

The figure is about 70 percent of the total CSR expenditure of N3.4 billion by the banking industry last year with analysts predicting that the figure would double in the next two years due to increased understanding of the concept of CSR.

Among the eight banks studied, Zenith Bank topped the list with N587 million, GTB spent N364.8 million while FCMB and Diamond Bank recorded N227.2 million and N214.4million, respectively. Access Bank recorded N173.2million, Stanbic IBTC spent N154.4million, Union Bank and Fidelity Bank spent N87.2 and N61.3 million, respectively. The eight banks had in 2011 spent N1.7 billion.

Last year, the oil and gas sector spent N9.5 billion on CSR, followed by telecoms with N6.4 billion. The banking industry came in third position.

Though large percentage of the expenditure by the banks fall into donations and philanthropy, analysts who spoke with BusinessDay said the banking industry has done well in CSR activities in the recent time as the invested amount in CSR has tripled in the last five years. Ken Egbas, the CEO of TruContact, organisers of CSR award in Nigeria, said philanthropy could be excused as entry model to CSR.

A research said many Nigerian companies perceive and practise CSR as corporate philanthropy aimed at addressing socio-economic development challenges because CSR is still at an early stage in Nigeria.

“Organisations, including banks are increasingly beginning to understand the importance of ensuring and creating a sustainable future and creating value in the society which is expected to have a positive effect for the organisation”, Egbas said.

“There was the time when people could not defend before management how corporate social responsibility could aid their bottom line. But all that is changing. Now, we see organisations surely coming to grasp with the triple bottom line concept of people, planet and profit. And we are even seeing quite some organisations even going a bit deeper by trying out the quadruple bottom line which depicts commerce, community, conservation and culture”

He said slowly but surely, organisations are also getting to understand that the face of marketing or the need to reach out to consumers is rapidly changing. “The future battle for the greater market share is going to be fought on a different turf and that is CSR”

In an earlier interview with BusinessDay, Egbas said it was wrong for organisations to think that CSR is only external. He believed that those companies who neglect their internal workforce on the understanding that CSR must be external are those organisations who use CSR just as white wash or window dressing. “If you scrutinise them further you will discover that they are those companies that you cannot connect their CSR programmes to the DNA of their corporate value propositions. CSR is usually an expression of something that is first internal before it can be expressed externally,” he said.

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