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Banks can give more to communities

A NUMBER of private companies schedule corporate social responsibility activities once in a while on their calendars.This part of a company’s activities comes with a number of benefits for both the company and the community in which it operates.
The competitive business world demands that a company comes up with innovative ways of improving its brand and engaging the clientele to avoid sinking and attain a raised profit portfolio.
Some of the companies take up the responsibility to engage in the communities they operate from because they are responsible for contributing to the degradation of the environment.
Let us take, for instance, the mining companies whose activities leave the environment with huge craters where they use open pit methods or, in some cases, the water they discharge during the mining process ends up in the rivers used by the communities in the vicinity.
It is some of these negative activities that compel some of the private companies to make up for the possible harm they may cause to the communities by engaging with the individuals and help improve an existing situation.
In the business circles, it is becoming increasingly clear that clients want to associate with a brand they know and, of course, spend their money on it.
How else can customers get to know a brand unless the company takes the first step to engage with them? And corporate social responsibility is one of the effective ways of growing the customer base.
One of the companies that have engaged with the communities is Coca Cola.
The company’s programme known as 5×20 intends to have five million women in developing countries by 2020 employed in both bottling and distribution roles.
This strategy will benefit women who will be empowered within the communities in which the beverage company has manufacturing plants. Apart from this, the communities will benefit from better health care and education.
Elsewhere, private companies provide educational sponsorships to children in the surrounding communities, some of whom are later employed by the same companies. This approach has a way of reducing poverty and improving literacy levels in communities in the long term.
While we have seen some companies in our country go out to practise corporate social responsibility in the communities, we want to say that they need to do more.
There are mentorship programmes undertaken by some companies and some donations once in a while. However, we believe that private companies can still do more for our nation.
After all, their businesses are sustained by the communities in which they operate and the need to sustain this customer base should be paramount for business executives.
On Friday, after receiving a cake from First National Bank (FNB) to mark his 94th birthday, former President Kenneth Kaunda urged commercial banks to step up corporate social responsibility programmes by building houses for vulnerable citizens and helping to reduce the housing deficit.
Dr Kaunda said helping, especially the vulnerable in society, is a call of God which all the people and commercial banks should embrace.
Dr Kaunda is Habitat for Humanity patron and FNB is the platinum sponsor of the KK Build event, which constructs houses for vulnerable people in Zambia.
Zambia currently faces a housing deficit of more than 1.5 million and it is expected that this will rise to over three million by 2030.
With such a blurred picture, we want to urge the corporate world to give Dr Kaunda’s appeal a serious thought and help the communities in which they operate.
Housing is a basic need for everyone and we know that while it is Government’s desire that all its citizens are housed, there are limitations that prevent the attainment of an ideal situation.
We are not talking of high-class mansions. The poor appreciate any efforts aimed at making them look more decent, by providing them with housing that meets the minimum standards.
The banks, on the whole, have been able to soldier on in our nation to provide their services to our communities and we know that in the process, they have made some profits.
Let us see them plough more of those profits in the communities they operate. It is more blessed to give than to receive and the banks will be remembered more for what they give to the communities in Zambia.