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Sustainability: The New Business Mind-Set for The Financial Sector

  Jun 26, 2020

In today’s business community, sustainability is becoming the new frame that every organization is using to assess its own outcomes. It is also being used as an expression of the issues that production and consumption patterns will have to address to build a sustainable city where individuals and the environment are respected.

This means that business communities and suppliers cannot continue to operate through ‘business-as-usual’.  

This came out clearly during a supplier’s conference hosted by Absa Bank-Kenya to introduce their suppliers to a new Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) system. Attended by over 400 suppliers, this provided a unique opportunity to achieve Sustainable Development goals ‘Making Everyone Count.’

They were able to discuss how their work within the organization’s supply chain is always linked to sustainability in line with environmental, risk, and waste costs. And how they can integrate environmentally sound choices into supply-chain management.

Unlike before when banks had been synonymous with the number of clients, they were making profits, this is not the case anymore. Banks like Absa have now incorporated social and environmental stewardship and ethics into organizational practices.

This, therefore, calls for organisations and even suppliers to have a clear understanding of sustainability and to adopt sustainability initiatives for their day to day work such as energy savings, management of waste products, reduction of pollution, understanding their role in climate change, and encouraging innovation.

Operating under this new paradigm shift of organizational sustainability requires new ways of doing business; responsible production and consumption; and new leadership thinking to understand and seize the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development.

In response to this context, BBK-ABSA and Strathmore University Business School (SBS) have jointly developed a ‘Suppliers Sustainability Leadership Blended Training Program’ meant for the Absa suppliers. The programme aims at building the capacity of suppliers to integrate the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement into their business strategy and turn sustainability initiatives in their organization’s drivers of measurable Value.

Using the approach of sustainable and inclusivity this initiative provides a chance of decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, while at the same time creating employment and fostering clean energy innovation.

It is also responding to the Principles for Responsible Banking, a global framework that guides the integration of sustainability across all business areas of a bank starting from strategy to portfolio and to transaction level and aligning the banks’ business with the society’s goals. From the bank’s strategy to all transactional levels and across all business areas it is helping the banks contribute to creating value for both society and shareholders, and help them build trust with investors, customers, employees, and society.

Sustainability, therefore, is not just another social responsibility program. It has become a fundamental way of doing business and where cities can efficiently tackle climate change through networks by sharing knowledge and building capacity. 


Article by Rosemary Okello-Orlale, Director of Africa Media Hub- Strathmore University Business School


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