Sunday, April 18, 2021

KBL/ BBL’s Corporate Social Investment programme should serve as a template for other companies

It is not often that we use this space to commend and or pay tribute to profit oriented institutions.

This being the leader page, it is customary that our commentaries focus on public policy as well as major events of the day. It is space though, which, as a paper, we make our positions known on many issues that affect the policy direction of this country, the sub-region and indeed the world.

But this week we want to break away from our establish ethos and, instead, single out and recognize Kgalagadi Breweries and their sister company, Botswana Breweries, for continued efforts to empower Batswana.

That KBL has been able to successfully integrate Corporate Social Investment programmes into their greater business model is not in doubt.

Many years ago, the leadership of KBL group took a decision to establish the Kgalagadi Breweries Trust through which the group helps communities around which they make their business.

For many years the Group has supported such diverse interests like sports, the fight against HIV/AIDS and helping citizen economic empowerment, especially among the youth through the company’s Kickstart programme.

In recent years, the Group has continued to be a pioneer by broadening their scope to include expanding the democratic space of this country by becoming the first company to publicly fund all political parties in Botswana using a transparent and equitable formula imaginable.

It is interesting to note that even as KBL operated under increasingly difficult trading conditions, owing to economic recession that has no doubt affected a majority of the company’s customers, the Group was able, to a greater part, to carry on with their social responsibilities.

Only last week, the company unveiled a programme through which they are sponsoring sportsman in the form of Botswana’s boxing luminary, Scud Khubamang to introduce boxing in many prison halls across the country.

This is a most pragmatic undertaking and it goes a long way to show that the company appreciates the well being of the people among whom it operates.

It is interesting to note that KBL has continued to support the less fortunate members of our communities even in the face of deteriorating trading conditions that came about as a result of the madness that our Government has instead decided to call “Alcohol Levy.”

KBL continued to support communities even as the so-called Alcohol Levy was deliberately tailored such that it discriminated against KBL while favouring importing competitors.

KBL has continued to channel their much needed money to worthy causes, not so much because they had too much money (in fact, their profits have been steadily declining) but because as part of their business model, the Group recognized that in the long term it was against their interests if they did not make their business to help the less fortunate members of the community within which the company operated.

They did so not because they wanted publicity, which seems to be the driving force behind many of our so-called Samaritans, who are always too eager to issue a press release every time they give a house to a poor member of the community.

We urge businesses in Botswana to make CSI an integral part of their business model, not an erratic attention seeking exercise that the company employs to resolve a crisis or to buy favour with our unpredictable, irascible and all too often uneven handed political leadership.

To KBL, we say the fact that you have been able to weather the storm and enlist public support and sympathy at a time when a weaker company could have easily gone belly up is not so much a result of your financial muscle as social capital you built over the years when you stood through thick and thin with the less fortunate members of our society.

Although time has no doubt been rough, it is our strong opinion that KBL leadership has not for a moment regretted the millions of Pula the company has over the years invested as part of its Corporate Social Investment.

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