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Sep 05, 2018

KCIC launches the Association of Sustainability Practitioners in Kenya (ASPK)

The Association of Sustainability Practitioners in Kenya (ASPK) was officially launched last week at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi. The event which was attended by over 150 business executives and sustainability champions from the various sectors in Kenya. This is an initiative by KCIC to expand the culture and practice of sustainability in the Kenyan business sector. As a mutual association of people interested in sustainability, ASPK seeks to create a forum for professional, multidisciplinary discussion on the topic. 

The launch was a culmination of a breakfast meeting hosted in conjunction with the KCB Bank Group. The aim of the event was to discuss the sustainability trends affecting the Kenyan private sector with a focus on why now more than ever Kenyan companies need to adopt sustainability as a core business practice in order to stay competitive.

It is becoming more and more necessary to have such an association. On the one hand, according to a KCIC consumer study, 57% of Kenyans would prefer to spend more on sustainably-made products rather than spending less on unsustainable ones; yet, 24% of Kenyan CEOs are unaware of the Sustainable Development Goals. As consumers and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding sustainable business practices, more enterprises must raise their awareness and receive consulting on sustainability. In doing so, companies can boost revenues in addition to helping the planet. 

ASPK aims at growing sustainability leaders through peer-to-peer support, informal mentoring and group participation. It will consist of: 

  • Individual & corporate membership 
  • Professional development through training and sustainability professional certification
  • Networking: sharing of best practices by sustainability influences and pacesetters
  • Community of Practice: a mentoring platform to empower the professionals’ expertise
  • Awards to honor professionals devoting their careers in the field of  Sustainability & Companies pursuing sustainable business strategies
  • Resource Center: Repository for case studies & policy briefs & other resources

The Breakfast Meeting was a productive precursor to ASPK. Moderated by KCIC CEO Edward Mungai, it consisted of a panel discussion and a talk from Chief Guest Dr. Julius Muia, Principal Secretary, State Department for planning, The National Treasury and Planning. 

In the panel were Geert Aagaard Andersen, former Danish Ambassador to Kenya and currently Sustainability Consultant at Nordic Consultic Group, Sanda Ojiambo, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Safaricom, Judith Sidi Odhiambo, Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at KCB Group, and Joyce Njogu, Head of Consulting at Kenya Association of Manufacturing (KAM). The discussions were centered on “doing good is good business.” 

Ms. Ojiambo emphasized how Safaricom has achieved success by integrating sustainability as a central business strategy. Through efforts such as measuring their greenhouse gas emissions yearly, Safaricom has managed to simultaneously expand their network while reducing their carbon footprint. Ms. Ojiambo also stressed how focusing on sustainability provides more value to customers, adding that, “Customers buy products because of the value they get from them and not because of your financial statements.” 

In a similar vein, Ambassador Andersen challenged the common assumption that “it is too expensive” for companies to address climate change. “Wrong,” he said, “reductions in energy costs help the company’s bottom line, and renewable energy is a profitable alternative.” Furthermore, he pointed out, “When giving out loans, banks will also look at your enterprise more favorably and give you better rates the more sustainable you are.” 

Dr. Muia, stressed on the importance of educating children and youth on sustainability. As Kenya has a relatively young population and a culture increasingly focused on education, these are two assets which are crucial for ensuring a sustainable future. Consequently, he said that we must also invest more in entrepreneurship training and funding for young people to launch micro- and small businesses.  

The event also saw the awarding of the WeSustain essay competition winners at the end of the breakfast meeting. The 10 winners received a prize of KSh.10,000 each for their essays on how the youth can utilize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to tackle the environmental, social, and economic problems facing Africa by 2030. The winners were Jane Mbae, Habel Mwashigadi, Mellany Metah, Fred Adick, Mercy Katombi, Veronica Otieno, Judith Otip, Davis Otieno Opiyo, Aukot Simon, and in first place was Jeremy Njonge. 

As more and more Kenyan businesses see the SDGs as a business opportunity and not just a philanthropic one, the country can not only tackle climate change but also see economic growth. Meetings such as these and the launching of the Association of Sustainability Practitioners in Kenya are a vital way of ensuring that this happens. 

By Alise Brillault 

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