CSR in Nigerian SMEs: Approaches that will improve business growth

SEO Meta: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for SMEs has many benefits that will grow sales and profits, brand awareness, lower operating costs and increase employee productivity.

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Since the beginning of industries, the primary role of a company in society has been a source of heated debate. While profit maximisation for investors and shareholders is the fundamental goal of businesses, society as a whole wants much more via the production of value in goods and services.

 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) began as a way for businesses to react to a variety of societal demands, obligations, and duties related to their activities’ impact on communities. CSR as a business strategy and a reference point for advocating policies within a firm reached a pinnacle in the 2000s.

 

How is Corporate Social Responsibility defined in Nigeria?

CSR entails firms incorporating social and environmental considerations into their operations and engaging with their stakeholders.

 

Today, a number of successful organisations employ social responsibility to thank customers for their loyalty to them while also giving back to society. This might take the shape of initiatives, movements, or individual empowerment. For example, by clicking on their site and shopping from Ackermans catalogues online, the retailer says thank you to the community by promoting young fashion designers through competitions like Style Squad. The winners walk away with educational policies, school donations, clothes hampers etc. Dangote Cement and MTN are also prominent donors in our society, allocating billions of Naira to various causes.

 

These business projects, in whatever shape they take, are unquestionably beneficial to both the corporation and society. Some businesses are taking the initiative and launching humanitarian programs ranging from road development to poverty reduction.

 

It’s fantastic to engage in corporate social responsibility when it’s intended to make a positive difference in people’s lives and contribute significantly to society. A responsible corporate organisation should not only be perceived to be involved in CSR but such actions need also be clearly communicated in order to generate the required goodwill for the company.

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Is CSR important for Nigerian SMEs?

Headlines on CSR always highlight multi-national companies’ donations or government efforts to environmental and societal improvement, thus rendering the topic a concern for big organisations rather than a business strategy for growth.

As a small to medium enterprise, therefore, you may be wondering if the philanthropic practice will do any good for your business or if it will harm your profits. Let us look at some of the benefits your organisation may gain when doing CSR initiatives.

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SME benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility

Small to Medium Enterprises may benefit from CSR in the following ways:

higher recognition of the brand
good brand image
improved sales and customer loyalty
lower operating expenses
improved financial performance
positive media attention
increased capacity to attract and retain talent in the workplace
organisational growth
easier capital access
investor attraction
reduced regulatory burden
identification of new business opportunities

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What CSR initiatives can SMEs participate in?

1. Internships. Coca-Cola does this well with the Naija Coke Summership Programme. For one month only, they invite third-year university students to apply for an internship during their summer break in order to gain industry experience. You can only guess what this does to their brand growth.
2. Collaborative community fundraising. Suppose a Supposecommunity organisation around you is trying to raise funds.  In that case, your participation in helping them to do so will get you good press, grow brand awareness, and gain you more customers.
3. Volunteer day at schools, hospitals, local municipalities, orphanages, old people’s homes. Expand your reach by reaching out to the needy in your community. As a result, your organisation will become top-of-mind, you will get more customers, and ultimately, more profits.
4. Recycling or repurposing old furniture for donations. If you have any unused furniture or gadgets, you can simply donate to those more in need. People will recognise you for your generosity and in turn, support your business.
5. Improved waste management. This mainly applies to manufacturing businesses but also, how you dispose of your waste in any organisation may compel customers to buy from you more. If you have a recycling station for plastics and glass, boxes and paper etc., you will be considered environmentally conscious, and in this day and age, the greener your practices, the more support you will garner.

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Wrapping up

Corporate Social Responsibility should be every organisation’s concern in order to improve brand awareness, grow customer loyalty, increase business profits, and make the society and environment a better place in general. SMEs stand to benefit from CSR initiatives as much as larger companies. By participating in initiatives or activities that are inexpensive but impactful, business growth is almost guaranteed. Uniqueness will also foster a competitive advantage

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