Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB) is cognisant of the fact business today is not being done in a Sustainable way and in most cases, impacts negatively on the planet and its people. To learn, grow and share knowledge around this topic, SIB, organised it’s 3rd Private Sector Conference on Sustainability and Inclusive Business on 4th of May 2018 at the USIU-A. During the conference, SIB led by examples by providing a sustainable vegetarian lunch, central water stations instead of bottled water and delegates brought their own writing materials.
Under the Theme, New Economy, Transformation and Future Proof Business, the conference brought together business leaders from diverse backgrounds, sectors and skill sets.
Kate Raworth has been an advocate of new economics which she believes will save the world. She notes that as much as there was tremendous economic growth in the 20th century, this was at the expense of the planet, it’s people and the environment in general. As much as the number of people living on less than a dollar a day has fallen by more than half, 2billion people and more have access to water and sanitation, inequalities continue to grow and environmental degradation is at an all-time high. Every minute, a truck load of plastic is dumped into the ocean she says. She highlights this in her book, Doughnut Economics: Seven ways to think like a 21st century economics. These issues form the premise on which Sustainable and Inclusive Business is formed to address.
Speaking during the conference, Hon. Jan Peter Balkenende, the former Prime Minister of the Netherlands who is also a senior CSR Partner at Ernst & Young emphasised on the importance of global Agenda in line with the SDGs. he also said businesses need to align their objectives to the SDGs shift with shared value to bring new business success.
Amb. Frans Makken of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands also highlighted the Netherland’s passion for Sustainable and Inclusive Businesses and the Embassy’s contribution towards the initiative in Kenya. He said Sustainability and Inclusiveness has become part of the Embassy’s DNA. It has also come at a time when the Embassy has been challenged by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Netherlands to take part in the ‘Rank your embassy competition’ that seeks to identify the most Sustainable and Inclusive Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the world. He highlighted the steps the Dutch government is taking to switch first five key sectors of their economy to circular (zero waste).
Carole Kariuki, CEO KEPSA, highlighted successes KEPSA has had in promoting Sustainable and Inclusive Business practices since the first conference that was convened in 2016. She said, with the continued partnerships by different stakeholders, KEPSA has achieved remarkable results in promoting sustainable inclusive business. ‘’Through the First and Second Sustainable conferences, workshops, and roundtables; we have managed to create awareness to about 2000 businesses” she said.
Ms. Kariuki further highlighted what KEPSA Foundation is doing to become more Sustainable and Inclusive, and also mentioned contributions made by the Better Business Practices for Children (BBPC), Ajira Digital, SIB Kenya and Employees engagement programs to develop capacity.
Dr. Vimal Shah, Chairman of BIDCO Africa also spoke extensively on Sustainability and Inclusiveness and the role businesses should play. He particularly challenged government to partner with private sector and invest in proper waste management solutions that lead to circularity and reduce negative impact on the environment instead of placing a ban on plastic (PET, Bags) as we seek to find sustainable alternatives without causing a negative impact to the environment. He gave clear examples on how his firm is making strides towards being Sustainable and Inclusive. His company in Uganda is already fully circular ensuring that nothing goes to waste.
These discussions were elucidated and unpacked at the sector specific workshops. The workshops were led and designed by businesses and included:
- Optimizing the business of food with Innovations to learn from (Agri Workshop)
- Plastic Waste Management with a collaboration on responsible solutions
- The great Minds Challenge
- Master class on how to be ready to run a start up
- Business and Biodiversity
- Future of technology as business solution for issues
- Better Businesses are in business
- Greening the construction sector.
The conference culminated in the unveiling of the Circle of Influencers by the SIBKenya Cofounder Willem Lagaweg and the Coordinator Karin Boomsma. These team comprises and mix of business leaders draw from various sectors who will act as the ears and eyes of SIBKenya. They will also help accelerate Sustainable and Inclusive Business practice within the private sector in Kenya.
At the end of the conference, Dr. Manu Chandaria urged businesses and the East Africa citizens to develop a mind shift that encourages Business to be more sustainable and inclusive.