• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Fresh insights underway as group unveils social impact report for businesses

Fresh insights underway as group unveils social impact report for businesses

A worldwide network of chief executives and business leaders under the aegis of YPO has unveiled a Global Impact Report coming as a blueprint for African businesses to scale social impact.

Over the years, African businesses have increasingly gone beyond profit-making to contributing to society directly in ways that lift up their leaders, employees, customers and communities. The YPO report highlights some of the continent’s leaders in social impact.

The report, according to its promoters, is a culmination of extensive research and insights gathered from YPO members across the globe. It not only highlights the importance of social impact for African businesses, but also provides a blueprint for expanding their efforts.

YPO says the report is a direct reflection of its members’ commitment to purpose-driven leadership, focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion, hiring and retention, environmental impact and sustainability governance. Armed with its key findings, case studies, and recommendations, YPO believes the report will encourage African businesses to make a significant difference in their communities.

Africa’s pressing social and environmental challenges present a unique opportunity for businesses to drive positive change. The eport spotlights the continent’s YPO members who are excelling in adopting social impact as an integral part of their business strategy.

Isak Pretorius is a South African businessman who leads the continent’s largest indigenous non-governmental organization called ‘For Afrika’. He sees himself as a part of something much bigger than himself.

“I often describe myself as an African first and a South African second. South Africa happens to be the country on the continent I was born into. But growing up, I felt like I was part of the continent, intertwined with its people,” he noted recently.

Through partnering with local communities, For Afrika deploys resources to implement locally led programmes that help people overcome the barriers they face. It transforms lives and means that the benefits that flow to communities are shared more equitably.

Pretorius has more than 20 years of business experience and humanitarian service in the continent. He is a firm believer in changing the world by changing one life at a time, and has channelled this energy into empowering communities, building economies, and bridging the gap between not-for-profit and for-profit organisations.

As the Global Impact Report notes, the Mauritius-based organisation, with 651 employees, exceeds YPOs benchmarks for female board/employee/manager metrics. For Afrika also scored well for its social/environmental board committee, full-time sustainability leadership position, and ethics performance tracking.

“Empowering the excluded not only benefits the consumer, but all stakeholders,” says Tarek Mouganie, CEO of Affinity Africa, a digitally driven financial institution that provides affordable banking for the underserved and unbanked. The organisation is another highlighted in YPO’s report for its efforts to achieve gender balance.

“Financial inclusion, especially toward women, not only makes commercial sense, but also helps build resilient economies,” Mouganie says. “The informal sector has the potential to boost employment and broaden the taxpayer base. Financial inclusion is also at the core of healthcare and education access,” he adds.

A member of YPO, Mouganie is a serial entrepreneur and a believer in the creative industries as a means of enabling social and economic development. With a staff of 93, the Ghana-based organisation reports impressive metrics in regards to female representation for its board, employees and senior managers.

These organisations’ performance on gender balance are a reminder to established and startup businesses across the continent of what can be achieved. It’s important because as of 2020, more people employed in Africa were men, an estimated 260 million of them, compared to 197 million women. This ratio hadn’t shifted significantly since 2010.

These two organisations also show a pathway to reducing the gender pay gap across the continent. The UN Women (2023) report – ‘Why Women Earn Less?’ – found that women earn 21 percent less than their male counterparts in Eastern and Southern Africa. Various reasons, among which are deeply ingrained factors such as discrimination, cultural norms, and gender stereotypes, have limited African women’s earning power.

YPO’s report, and its showcasing of these two trailblazing organisations’ efforts in improving employee gender balance, is intended to drive further change. African businesses are increasingly prioritising social impact, and such pointers to key areas of intervention remind us of what is possible.

Seeing is believing, and belief is a powerful driver of change. As they grow, Africa’s businesses will find that strategic social impact also drives economic growth in a way that is inclusive and sustainable. It may be altruistic, but it makes good business sense as well.

Key findings from the report

The YPO report reveals several key findings that highlight the current landscape of social impact in African businesses. Firstly, it highlights that a growing number of African businesses are embracing social impact as a core component of their operations. This demonstrates a shift toward a more responsible and purpose-driven business approach.

Moreover, the report identifies that collaboration between businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations is crucial for driving social impact at scale. By working together, these entities can leverage their unique strengths and resources to address complex social challenges effectively.

Additionally, the report emphasizes the significance of measurement and reporting in social impact initiatives. It highlights the need for African businesses to adopt robust impact assessment frameworks to track their progress and ensure accountability. This data-driven approach enables businesses to make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement and communicate their impact transparently.