The Corporate Social Responsibility Network held the inaugural Zimbabwe Corporate Social Investment Forum at a local hotel where more than 100 delegates and 50 companies drawn from across Zimbabwe and one from South Africa participated.
It was huge success to the extent that delegates were left asking for more.
Below is a detailed speech delivered by the CSRNZ Executive Director Mr Willard Razawo.
Follow the speech below:-
It gives me great pleasure to extend to you all a very warm and kind reception on behalf of CSR Network Zimbabwe. Thank you very much for taking time to join us today for the Conference on Corporate Social Investments
Your participation today is a true testimony and clear reflection that you are really passionate and value CSR so much.
I really appreciate.
Cdes and friends allow me to recognise the presents of our guest speaker the deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Hon Tapiwa Matangaidze.
Let me also acknowledge, H.E the Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Sophia Caltorp.
The CSR Network Board Members here present
Distinguished business leaders, members of the media
I am really humbled today that we have managed to gather delegates from different backgrounds, a development I feel will allow this conference to achieve its objectives.
Let me mention that we have delegates from as far as Mutare, Lupane, Bulawayo, Bindura, Kariba and South Africa.
Indeed we have delegates from across the country.
At least 100 participants are here today representing academia, businesses, governments, civil society, trade unions, media and ordinary citizens. This diversity reflects one of the central tenets of this Conference, that tackling challenges threatening our sustainable development requires commitments and contributions from everyone.
Hon Deputy Minister, Distinguished guests the motivation for coming up with this organisation, that is the CSR Network Zimbabwe was necessitated by our desire to see business investing responsibly and sustainably in areas they operate from an a philanthropic gesture of appreciation.
We know that CSR is volunteering but this kind of volunteering is necessary and should be encouraged.
Distinguished delegates organisations of our type are very common in the developed world like America and Europe, but let me also indicate that issues to do with CSR have also taken centre stage in Asia where we have a continental CSR network Known as Asia CSR Network, which is our associate organisation as we work with them closely.
Hon Deputy Minister
Ladies and Gentlemen
We have taken a lead as Zimbabwe to come up with this CSR network which we anticipate in the next three to five years will be a fully-fledged continental Network. We have already started work towards that vision, we will start with the SADC CSR Network, Comesa CSR Network before we accomplish our vision of Africa CSR Network. This no mean business but I know with the support of these regional trading blocs and the African Union, we can achieve our vision.
Hon Deputy Minister
Esteemed delegates allow me to introduce CSR Network Zimbabwe, the organisation that has managed to gather us today.
The CSR Network Zimbabwe (CSRNZ) is a professional multi-stakeholder organization established in Zimbabwe with the aim to advance the best principles and practices of Corporate Social Responsibility in the private and public sectors with the ultimate goal of supporting Sustainable businesses which will contribute to sustainable economic growth leading to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
CSRNZ facilitates networking, learning and sharing experiences and knowledge in matters of CSR.
This CSR Network also promotes, encourage and recognize responsible business practices through training, research, advisory services, and by recognition through The CSR Network Zimbabwe Awards. (These award will be held here on the eve of 29 September this year, we hope all of you will join us again. We encourage all the participating companies present today to enter these prestigious awards. Details can be availed to you)
As a country we need to take and consider corporate social responsibility or CSR as more prominent agenda as we gradually turn around the economic fortunes of our beloved country. Hon Deputy Minister we will be approaching you so that we can find ways on how we can legislate CSR. It is time that Zimbabwe needs a CSR Policy.
As a country we need a strategic CSR blueprint as one of the strategic measures for sustainable, equitable and inclusive development. That way I am confident that we can achieve and meet the demands of SDGs
In line with the global sustainable development goals, we applaud our government for instilling a culture of integrity, ensuring the respect and promotion of human rights, especially rights of vulnerable groups, promoting labour standards, food security, sustainable and inclusive agriculture, sustainable consumption and production. In this regard I challenge the corporate world to also play ball in helping government in these and other areas.
CSR is not new in Zimbabwe, but despite increased attention to CSR, the gap between expectation, theory and practice of CSR remains unresolved.
One such example is sustainability reporting. As one of our tasks as the CSR Network we will be working with companies, assisting and encouraging them to meet all the above basic principles. We hope more and more companies will join this network starting with you.
While the overall level of disclosure of companies has increased significantly increased in recent years, there is still an imbalance of disclosure quality across sustainability topics and the depth of reporting remains relatively low.
Through this Conference, by bringing both academics and practitioners together with other key stakeholders, we aim to decode the truth behind the CSR myths, and equip businesses with the know-how and means to do CSR. We also hope that academics will find this conference a good opportunity to strengthen their research and teaching practices. Only then can we nurture a new generation of business and public leaders that will take CSR and sustainability to the next level.
Ladies and Gentlemen the CSR Network Zimbabwe is committed to helping mainstream responsible business conduct in Zimbabwe based on internationally accepted norms and standards that is why today we will later on learn from the Swedish experience when H.E the Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe make her presentation. We are honoured ambassador Caltorp that you are here. We look forward as a network to do more together in areas of CSR together with your government.
In addition, we are planning to launch a network of individuals and organisations interested in the research, teaching and practice of CSR/sustainability. This Conference serves as an opportunity to engage the relevant stakeholders in conversations on how to make this happen. If you are interested, please approach us.
I would like to end my remarks by encouraging you to continue taking an active part in the discussions So that we can find actionable breakthroughs in CSR for inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth in Zimbabwe.
I Thank you.