Sustainable CSR programs: Economic development in Africa

Jaiz Bank’s intensive entrepreneurship and CSR program to support new solutions for the challenges of COVID 19 whilst supporting 11 entrepreneurs across Nigeria.

Some of the highest unemployment rates 

A CSR strategy is defined as “the company’s contribution to sustainable development and their accountability towards the environmental and social impacts from their activities” but in Africa, like in many other continents around the world, this is poorly understood.

For a large majority of business leaders and top executives, CSR often takes the form of short-term aid like donations and one off events but short-term aid won’t fix the challenges that some African economies face today.

Unemployment rates have been growing since 2012 mirroring the trends in the global rate with young women being particularly more affected, and although these  problems are not new, COVID-19 definitely made them worse.

With the unemployment rates over +25% and predicted to keep on growing in some Sub-Saharan African countries like Nigeria and South Africa and over 35% of the youth population in Africa living on less than 1.90 USD a day, there’s a critical need for more sustainable approaches to CSR and an understanding of its role in fostering socio-economic development on the continent according 

Entrepreneurship and CSR as tools for sustainable development

When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, existing socio-economic challenges in many countries were heightened and new problems emerged.

Nigeria was no different. While various corporations in the country approached the pandemic with food and masks donations only, Jaiz Bank decided to bet on a long term solution with an intensive entrepreneurship and innovation CSR program to support new solutions for the challenges of COVID 19. 

The Bank’s core values are built on 7 principles with the acronym RESPECT; Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, Simplicity, Partnership, Excellence, Customer Focus and Trust. These core values are the guiding force that empowers the Bank to project towards its vision to be the clear leader in ethical Banking in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Jaiz Bank has always been a forward thinking and purpose-driven organization so they wanted to build a solution that could boost innovation within their team while developing an initiative that could truly tackle the pressing social challenges in Nigeria exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.

What was #FIGHTBACK COVID-19? 

 With these values in mind they created the #FIGHTBACKCOVID-19, an open-innovation challenge, to spur scientists, engineers, developers, inventors and social entrepreneurs in Nigeria to ideate, experiment and build products and solutions that could help address the COVID-19 crisis in the country through innovation. 

The CSR program had multiple goals.  On one hand they wanted to support entrepreneurs to validate their innovative startups through professional and dedicated mentorship and in addition, Jaiz Bank considered this program the perfect opportunity to train their own Innovation Team and help them understand how to manage their own incubation program 100% online.

of entrepreneurs will continue to work on their startups
0 %
entrepreneurs took part in the program
are more willing to step out of their comfort zone and explore new opportunities
0 %
overall satisfaction rate with the program
0 /5

How was the experience for the entrepreneurs? 

11 entrepreneurs joined the program back in March 2020 to work on 10 startups. At the same time 11 volunteer mentors from 6 different countries, including Nigeria and Ghana, signed-up to guide them. 

They worked through the hardest months of the pandemics in the development of amazing solutions to overcome problems that truly matter. 

One example of this would be the team from E-likita,  a team of founders from Nigeria, developing an electronic medical record system so that health workers during the pandemic didn’t have to spend much time complementing many data collection tools, so that they could focus more on patient care.

Another example is the team from Fertilizer Production, a Nigerian company focused on the production of ethanol using cassava peel as raw material, finding eco-friendly alternatives to sanitizer.

“This is a great programme for all aspiring startups."
Olasupo Abideen
The Gas Secure Founding Team

Why is this important? 

At Bridge for Billions we believe that entrepreneurship and innovation are the most efficient tools for job creation and inclusive innovation globally. 

While  startups in Africa are best positioned to solve the challenges of their communities and create a ripple effect of new jobs and increased income levels, there is still very little funding & training support for many startups and this hinders their growth.

Many organizations, like Jaiz Bank, have discovered the key role a CSR program can play in fostering long term socio-economic growth for their country while building an innovation mindset among their employees. 

If you’re an organization looking to tackle the problems that truly matter in your region contact us below to create your own Social Innovation program in less than a month.

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