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Private sector’s role in creating a better society

OPINION
By Jane Karuku | August 28th 2021

Jane Karuku, Managing Director at East African Breweries Ltd. [Courtesy]

A long-established tenet for establishing a business is to return a profit. But the thinking has evolved and driven businesses to aspire to ideals higher than just profit.

Companies now understand a greater value in caring for the environment and making a contribution to better societies simply because no business can thrive in a sinking society.

Businesses today are conscious about bigger ideals like job creation, energy and water efficiency, environmental conservation and contributing to solutions to some of the challenges facing the communities.

When societies rise, business simultaneously rise, carried aloft by the same buoyancy. Indeed, shared value is about having a measurable impact on a social issue while still achieving positive economic returns.

At EABL, we are in a unique position to respond to global as well as regional challenges our communities face every day. East Africa is largely dependent on natural resources for growth and development. Our business depends on natural resources, from farming and production of our ingredients to manufacture and distribution of our products. 

However, every other day, another research finding, news story or environmental-related disaster comes with more evidence that our planet is in a crisis. Climate change is a persistent threat to communities. Regular droughts, floods and unpredictable rainfall patterns are wreaking havoc on farmers, making it increasingly difficult to achieve our regional development targets. Water is becoming scarce.

According to Unicef, a quarter of East Africa’s population must travel more than half an hour to fetch water. In Kenya, often seen as the region’s more developed economy, 17 million people (out of 52 million) still lack access to safe water. Tanzania and Uganda also struggle with water shortages.

These issues affect our communities and directly impact our supply chain. In spite of these challenges, EABL is taking the lead in developing solutions. We are integrating social and environmental standards into our supply chain, ensuring our entire business strategy is sustainable. We continue to see notable social and economic progress in the communities we engage with, including creation of jobs and increased access to green, innovative farming practices.

In 2020, we reaffirmed our support for UN Global Compact. We are globally recognised for adopting and tracking the most sustainable development goals (SDGs) - 13 of the total 17 - in our business strategy in the region. We have partnered with various stakeholders to design and implement collaborative projects, which advance the SDGs and further integrate global problem solving in our business model.

This is evidenced by our inaugural Sustainability Report, a product of two years of research and design.

-Managing Director at East African Breweries Ltd

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