THE Zimbabwe Independent and MBCA Bank, in association with Environment Africa, have chosen to invest in the future of the country by launching Asakheni Awards.
“Zimbabweans have two choices today: To agonise or organise.
When we agonise we dwell on the negative: No power, no water, no future. All it serves to do is give us ulcers but no solutions,” said Albert Gumbo, MBCA’s head of marketing at the project’s launch.
Asakheni was one of those possible solutions, he said. Asakheni is siNdebele for “let’s build”.
“It is an initiative that seeks to popularise the concept and practice of corporate citizenship. What is corporate citizenship? Basically defined, it is the ‘ability of businesses to make profits without compromising the ability of future generations to make a living’. It means businesses must behave responsibly by taking on sustainable business practice as a way of life,” Gumbo said.
He added: “It means that timber and mining companies, for instance, must not only provide jobs and say we have done enough for the community but must, in addition, take responsibility for rehabilitating the environments from whence they take the natural resources to make a profit. Put simply, it means we must try and guarantee a future for our children and our country.”
Asakheni will recognise, across eight sectors, those companies and organisations that have done the most to give back to society without creating a dependency syndrome.
An example that springs to mind is the Thandi initiative in South Africa.
Gumbo said the Capespan group in South Africa, through its foundation, made a decision to support the South African government’s land transformation effort.
In an effort to encourage joint ownership and empowerment through capacity building, Capespan offered shareholding to about 300 workers as well as training black wine makers to “create world-class black fruit growers”, according to Nazeem Sterras, chief executive of the Capespan Foundation.
The initiative produces wine, grapes, lemons and oranges which are now sold under the fair trade label to supermarkets in the United Kingdom.
“It is a model that can be adopted in Zimbabwe with results that go beyond our grower schemes, which in themselves are a good example of corporate citizenship. Sustainable giving is corporate social investment as opposed to cheque book philanthropy,” says Gumbo.
He adds: “We can revive the ability to dream for all sections of the community in Zimbabwe by taking a leadership position that inspires other leaders to want to invest in the future of our great country in a sustainable way.”
The competition is open to retail, IT, manufacturing, financial services, tourism, mining, agro-processing and oils and petrochemicals.
The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in November. Full criteria and entry forms for the competition will be announced in a supplement in the Independent.
“Asakheni becomes part of the many efforts that like-minded people across the nation are pursuing to ensure a sustainable future for our country.
“It is our social responsibility and it is called corporate citizenship,” said Gumbo. — Staff Writer.