The CSR award ceremony, the first of its kind in Rwanda, was aimed at recognizing and appreciating the voluntary works of private companies working in Rwanda that have shown care and support to the poor and vulnerable communities in Rwanda.
Companies were recognized and awarded based on the areas of Health care support to the community, Education support, Poverty Eradication, Innovations, Environmental Protection, Marketplace and Stakeholder relations.
In his speech to the guests, Honorable Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Stanslas Kamanzi hailed the initiative, saying that the CSR Awards signal the culture of Corporate Social Responsibility is building up in Rwanda. He noted that he wishes wish is that the initiative builds up and is positively interpreted and owned by corporate companies and individuals.
Quoting President Paul Kagame, minister Akamanzi said,” “Remember the president of the republic has been observing that doing good things to improve livelihoods of people should not be seen from the perspective of being nice.
It should also be seen as your own benefits. In relating the President’s comments, Mr. Kamanzi observed that; "whatever good you do in promoting community empowers members of those communities so that in return they can purchase from you what you offer to sell.”
Kamanzi said the awarding ceremony was exceptional in the country as they were the first of that kind.
“I thank the organizers of the event,” he sounded happy. The Guest of honor also revealed he was pleased with the contenders saying the different initiatives to support communities they had showcased at the gala as part of their CRS programmes have impacted positively on the communities.
“The programmes that have been developed are useful. They have made impact but some of them made bigger impact in communities and that is why they are being awarded,” said the minister.
The Chairperson of the CSR Awards initiative, Apostle Alice Kabera Mignnone described the process of selecting the best winning company as not easy because all CSR players who do important works to uplift the living conditions of the needy and vulnerable as winners.
We opened and called for participation of companies in the CSR awarding ceremony sometime in January 2014. We received 15 nominations with reports of the most important initiatives each company had run in the years between 2012 to December 2013, Apostle Mignonne said.
We had six (6) categories of nominations. These were Healthcare support, Education support, Poverty Eradication, Innovation, Environment and Marketplace and Stakeholder Relations, she said, adding that the evaluation of these activities will consider among others but major ones being; projects which were impactful, projects which were engaging, projects which were Impactful and projects which were done collaboratively.
Pastor Mignonne revealed that the process of participating in the awards was to be a private business company, must have voluntarily done or run a CSR program in the past, must submit and share reports of past CSR activities done and submit an application form to participate in the Awards.
The team of the judges included
Honorable Tito Rutaremara, Dr. James Vuningoma, Honorable Marie Claire Mukasine, Apostle Alice Mignonne and Prof. Anastase Shyaka who was not at the awarding ceremony.
Eight (8) awards were given out to companies; MTN Rwanda was voted the overall winner of the Rwanda CSR Awards 2013 and best company in educational support, KCB Rwanda the runner up and best company in Healthcare support.
Other companies that won an award include, Serena Hotels was the best in Environmental protection, Inyange Industries as best in Innovations, Bank of Kigali as Best company in Marketplace and Bralirwa as best company in Poverty eradication.
The Patron of the CSR Awards, Bishop Rucyahana noted why it matters for businesses to embrace People, Planet and Profit, saying that people do not trust businesses but increasingly see companies as irresponsible, greedy and inhuman.
He also said that climate change and economic fluctuations have also accelerated new expectations.
The Patron revealed that CSR Awards vision is To revive, build and preserve the spirit and culture of care, support and giving among Rwandans and businesses.
"Businesses need to re-engage people, to understand their new priorities; rethink their role and propositions; work in new ways and enable people to do more for themselves.
He noted that resolving the many paradoxes faced by customers who want the best things from companies but also for these customers to do “the right thing” and business leaders who want to grow but in more responsible ways; is a reason we all need to embrace the People, Planet and Profit.
"Here in Rwanda, Change is all around us. From a fragile economy and a climate out of control, from poverty across half the communities and scarcity of natural resources, from the extinction of species and explosion in population, from ethical dilemmas on every corner, and low confidence and trust in business. All these symptoms of a changing economy we have felt.
Doing CSR will help businesses and other stakeholders to connect in solving social, environment and economic challenges in order to achieve a new balance, that is more different from competitors and inspiring your people.
CSR Awards initiative will make it possible for businesses to be highly motivated to continue behaving ethically. It is an opportunity where companies will pride in their important works to the community and positively accept to showcase and share their best practices. He revealed that the Awards will be taking place annually.
From the business perspective, CSR help building brands in a way that builds capacity rather than just making sales, and enabling people to do more for themselves and their worlds, instead of just buy your product or service, Bishop Rucyahana said.
Thank you so much our dear CEO’s and Managing Directors of Businesses in Rwanda who struggle to balance your priorities and ambitions while also seeking to make the world of Rwanda a better place, Bishop Rucyahana closed his keynote address.
Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the lives of the local community and society at large.