The state of CSR in Nigeria: 2016 Annual Review

One of the major challenges faced by businesses and organisations in Nigeria is the dearth of credible and reliable data.

The discipline of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not immune to this challenge as very few studies have been carried out to ascertain the acceptance, perception, and practice of CSR in Nigeria, especially impact on businesses and the economy. More concerning is the absence of sufficient expertise to mainstream the practice of CSR into organisational strategy and operations, especially for small and medium organisations.

The global practice of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has come a long way. Yet, in Nigeria, it only gained momentum when disputes between prominent oil companies and their host communities exposed the importance of putting into consideration the impacts of business activities on the well-being of stakeholders.  Recently, there are indicators that Nigerian corporate establishments have begun to take CSR seriously such as the reflection of CSR roles in corporate nomenclature, and a few case studies which compel others to reckon with its importance to the success of their business activities.

Although for a long time, CSR in Nigeria was characterized by a muddled mix of charity, corporate philanthropy, emergency relief, scholarships, bonanzas, sponsorships, and other altruist gestures, the past few years have seen a steady evolution of the practice of CSR from a form of corporate philanthropy to a more structured and all-encompassing model. Yet, it still suffers from lack of structure in many organisations as past CSR reviews have revealed.

Most corporate organisations have neither created specialised departments nor appointed individuals or a team to manage their CSR needs; still very few disclose their estimated spending on CSR. The dearth in data makes it very difficult to measure the effects or non-effects of CSR on the Nigerian social and business communities. This brings to fore the need for a comprehensive study of CSR practices across organisations in the public, private and non-profit sectors in order to ascertain the structure, strategic objectives, and estimated spending.

Information about the practice of CSR in Nigeria is important because it enables businesses to develop new ideas, solutions and revenue streams from gaps within the ecosystem especially where organisations require technical support. For instance, Needs & Impact Assessments provide opportunities for research companies to verify and gather data for other commercial uses. In the same way, vendors and project managers can better develop their services in order to ensure better execution of projects – both for the funding organisations and recipients of social investments.

This study, the second after five years, was aimed at bridging the information gap in Nigeria about CSR, by identifying practices in  organisations of all sizes and sectors in the Nigerian economy and gauging the perception of business leaders as to what constitutes CSR practices in the country. Furthermore, the study was designed to offer a bird’s eye view and answer niggling questions about the practice of CSR in Nigeria – as an organisational strategy, philanthropy, or as a periodic charitable giving. Finally, this study examined the impact of CSR spending on businesses and on the entire country as a whole.

Five years ago, The State of CSR in Nigeria premiered with results showing that CSR was still thought of as a philanthropic venture in many establishments, even though many of the respondents affirmed that their organisations had documented CSR policies and assigned departments to oversee activities.

In the 2016 survey, respondents were selected from various sectors across Nigeria to participate, by answering 28 questions about the practice of CSR in their organisations.

We are confident that the results presented in the study have captured some of the major details about the current state of CSR in the country.

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