February 3, 2014, by ICCSR

CSR in Africa, a report from Botswana

I have just come back from a trip to Botswana where I was attending the 2nd Biennial Africa Academy of Management (AFAM) conference – a first to be held in the continent.  I had looked forward to visiting Botswana ever since I watched the popular TV series The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency.  I must admit I had done little in way of research on what to expect in Botswana – no lonely planets read – partly because it had been an incredibly busy time with pre-conference preparations for all of us members of the AFAM executive committee.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I landed into an extremely modern, well-organized Gaborone, no usual traffic jams and throngs of people I had been accustomed to in my travels to a number of African cities.  Gaborone looked new, as if the city had recently been constructed.   I saw first-hand what good governance more generally, and the governance of natural resources can do to a country’s development.

As a CSR scholar, I had used in my class teaching the ‘Blood Diamonds’ cases to interrogate business ethics and corporate social irresponsibility but in Botswana I heard success stories of diamonds fuelling the growth in Botswana’s economy.  I am now more curious to research and learn more about the partnership between Debswana Diamond Company Ltd., and the government of Botswana.  I am also curious to learn about Debswana’s social and ecological footprint, and a better comprehension of how responsible business and economic agendas are reconciled in the partnership.

Back to the conference:  I met some wonderful people and engaged in deep conversations about management education in Africa and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Africa.  The discussions around what CSR might mean in the context of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that form the bulk of enterprises in developing countries were quite illuminating.

CSR and SMEs was the theme of a very successful pre-doctoral conference, and two special conference workshops that myself, Prof. Laura Spence (Royal Holloway, University of London), Prof. George Frynas and Dr. Jyoti Navare (Middlesex University Business School) organised in Gaborone.  These activities kicked off a seminar series on CSR and SMEs funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The workshop participants were in agreement that ‘CSR and SME’ scholarship in developing countries is nascent, and it was about time we engaged in research and disseminate the findings to a global audience.  The seminar series hosted by the above named partners aims to bridge the gap on knowledge and practise of CSR and SMEs in emerging and developing economy countries context.

To contribute to this grand plan, and as part of the seminar series, the ICCSR will be hosting the SMEs and supply chains workshop early 2015.

Watch the space  …… Ke a leboga (Thank you)!

By Dr Judy Muthuri, Lecturer in Corporate Social Responsibility
International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, Nottingham University Business School

Image: tweeted from the conference by Prof Laura Spence, thanks @Prof_LSpence.

Posted in Academic ACTIVITY