Lender calls for balance in ESG financing

Equity Group chief executive James Mwangi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Companies have been urged to find a balance in financing social and environmental interventions in the wake of sustainable operations in businesses.

This is as Equity Group released its inaugural sustainability report showing strides in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) for the year 2022.

Equity Group Board Sustainability Committee Chair Hellen Gichohi, an ecologist by training, detailed the devastating effects climate change has had on the ecosystem referencing the prolonged drought that ravaged wildlife in the country sometime back.  

“If we do not protect the environment, it will come back to bite us," she said, quoting the late environmentalist Prof Wangari Maathai.

"And when it does, it does not matter how educated I am if I do not have water or oxygen. We really must balance environmental and social considerations. We must fund them at the right scale.”

Dr Gichohi said while the continent has abundant resources like forests and arable agricultural land, a lot has to be done to safeguard this.

“We are buying water because we cannot get clean water. As the globe gets hotter, we shall have less oxygen and less of everything we need for life,” she said.

“Kenya has lost 60 per cent of its biodiversity; even the large mammals that we see. We only have 20 per cent of the elephants we had in the 60s.”

Equity Group chief executive James Mwangi said the listed lender has been committed to sustainability since inception even dedicating two per cent of the business’ revenue to the cause.

Equity Bank was awarded Best Bank in Environmental Social and Corporate Governance in this year's Think Business Awards.

Dr Mwangi said the current generation must endeavour to meet their needs today without compromising the ability of the future generation also meet their needs.

“When we combine governance, social and environmental consideration, then you really fit into that sweet spot of sustainability,” he said.

He added: “Protecting today and the future should be the at the core of sustainability. And it should be at a personal, business or corporate citizen level.”

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