Africans Can Fight Covid-19 With Stakeholder Capitalism

Africans Can Fight Covid-19 With Stakeholder Capitalism

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to overwhelm much of Africa, companies on the continent must broaden their perspective. Instead of focusing on short-term returns for owners and investors, they must consider the needs of a variety of stakeholders – employees, suppliers, customers, and the societies in which they operate. This stakeholder capitalism will help companies rewrite their rules of community engagement and rebuild their businesses faster post-COVID-19.

Business as usual will not help countries avert the peak of the epidemic. Across the continent, preventive measures are removing foot traffic from markets and malls. To continue adding value during the emergency, companies need to shift their thinking. Public-private partnerships are emerging, supported by a surge in solidarity funds across the continent.

South AfricaSenegal, and Ghana have all set up their own funds focussed on supporting vulnerable communities and preparing for the recovery. But companies also need to act directly to address the crisis not only for their employees and customers but for stakeholders as well. Former Unilever CEO Paul Polman has said the pandemic is an acid test for stakeholder capitalism.

Companies can start by looking to progress that has already been made. During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example, the private sector built a platform to raise resources to send health workers from across the continent to the affected countries. The difference now is that the entire continent is at risk. We know that our healthcare systems, otherwise occupied with HIV, tuberculosis, severe diarrhoea, malaria, Lassa fever, and other tropical diseases, cannot deal with a COVID-19 peak. Stepping up prevention is the best way to avoid a tragedy.

Fortunately, Africa is a latecomer to the pandemic. We can learn from other countries and set the path for truly enabling behaviour change. We can flatten the curve of sickness while supporting households who have lost their livelihoods from the necessary social distancing.

Hand hygiene is key to prevention, and Africans can build on existing private-public partnerships to promote hand-washing. In Kenya, the National Business Compact on Coronavirus has the leading brands in hygiene working together, not competing. The main soap manufacturers along with other companies are putting their resources into a unified platform of communication. They bring together the best of advertising, media and branding to remind consumers that the preventive actions are a matter of life or death. They’re targeting the estimated 6 million Kenyans who are struggling to maintain hand hygiene and other key behaviours. And they work with the government, UN organisations, community-based organisations and digital agencies to distribute essential hygiene products.

Messaging on hand-washing with soap is not enough. Private companies are building facilities in informal settlements to improve access to water. This engagement will have to continue beyond COVID-19 to supply clean water and hand-washing facilities to households. Even more important, prevention and livelihoods must go hand in hand. Social distancing prevents many people from getting food or resources to get clean water, soap and other vital items. Companies must help our populations protect themselves whilst preserving a certain level of economic activity.

To get there, companies can work with a variety of community-based coalitions, such as SHOFCO, which is operating in Kibera, Nairobi, in order to use their platform to support emerging organisations stemming the spread of the disease in their community. These communities are also customers for many large corporations and smaller businesses. Retail distributors, who belong to local communities, are already talking to slum dwellers and villagers, and they can reinforce health messages. In this process, they can identify local products which may benefit from a distribution channel in the communities as COVID-19 may tip the scale in favour of local products.

These efforts can play out in the informal sector as well. From financial services to health issues, these value chains have multiple entry points to change the relationship between businesses and citizens. Companies can no longer simply focus on what they sell. They provide a piece of a dynamic puzzle and can make a big difference by collaborating with a purpose.

In Togo, the government collaborated with financial institutions and mobile network operators to use the digital infrastructure for cash transfers through Novissi, which means solidarity in local dialect. This initiative intends to ensure that informal workers are not caught between the virus and hunger.

We know that our communities willingly come together in times of joy and sorrow by pooling their resources. In taking that ethos to the national level, through collaborating with the private sector and appealing to shared humanity – we have a foundation for true stakeholder capitalism.

 

NOTE: Opinion expressed in this article are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the West Africa Civil Society Institute

 

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality.


Previously, Omolara served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.