Survey of 100 African companies highlights the importance of sustainable development to their operations
A survey carried out by africapractice confirmed that of 103 African businesses, 97% will increase their investments to address sustainable development challenges over the next five years, and many viewed new business opportunities would emerge from creating a ‘Green’ economy.
The survey sampled small to medium sized African businesses operating across 16 African countries in a range of sectors, from agriculture to finance, extractive and support services. The survey asked what the most challenging sustainable development issues facing businesses are and which of these did managers feel most they were most effective at addressing. It also asked how businesses can make a positive impact and what motivates them to do this.
All respondents recognised the need to address sustainable development issues. They are motivated for strategic business reasons rather than just the ‘feel good’ factor. Reputation and brand building was the least important driver for companies to address sustainability challenges, compared to finding new business opportunities in the ‘Green’ economy which came in as the second most important driver. There was no consensus around the main motivation for companies to address sustainability challenges. Partnerships are also important for African businesses, with 66% citing collaboration with the public sector as the most effective way to create a positive and sustainable impact.
‘This study is an vital first step to understanding how African owned businesses can play a positive role in Africa’s sustainable development. The findings will help us support businesses to address and deal with these challenges, turning these challenges into opportunities by applying a values-based approach with a willingness to innovate and collaborate. And if we harness the private sector’s interest in creating a new ‘Green’ economy, we can set Africa on a less destructive and more equal economic development model’. Marcus Courage, Managing Director, africapractice.
The private sector has been a strong engine for growth and development in Africa over the past decade. Economic growth rates have helped to create a growing middle class and provide more people with access to basic amenities such as drinking water and healthcare. Large multinationals have been vocal on their role in driving sustainability for Africa’s economy and environment, but little is heard from African businesses and what they can do to address sustainability challenges on the continent. This survey sought to close this gap and increase the understanding of what African businesses think about sustainability issues and how they can best address the issues.
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