How Business Can Drive Human Solutions

How Business Can Drive Human Solutions

Author ~ Bekeme Masade-Olowola

At the time Coca-Cola commenced its campaign to normalise race in the United States of America, the American Civil Rights Movement, a biblical-based movement that had significant social and political consequences for the United States, had just commenced in 1955. The civil rights movement, which carried on through to 1968, was a time fraught with danger and political landmines, and Coke barging in at that time could have been potentially harmful to its brand. The beverage giant, nevertheless, waded into the controversy and supported black consumers with its show of inclusivity by launching its first ever female African-American model, Mary Alexander, an ‘everyday’ aspiring teacher who was selected while she was still a student at Clark College in Atlanta. What’s more, Coke is known for its humble branding, it’s advertising always focused on the consumers of the brand and their views about it. In Ms Alexander’s words, she hopes she has opened some doors “and laid some groundwork for people in the future to see what can be done despite the odds”. She, Coke and partners, had; racism as a legal construct has been defeated. This, even though it has been posited that Coke was originally created and marketed to white audiences, while Pepsi had a “black markets” department devoted to marketing to black populations, according to the website, The Atlantic.

Little wonder two billion bottles of Coke are sold daily and that there are 200 countries worldwide across five operating regions: Asia Pacific; Europe, Middle East & Africa; Latin America and North America.

This has led us to take a look at some purely human impact solutions that have occurred in Nigeria in recent times. Business of any size can and has been instrumental to development in numerous ways. Although there is the argument that business is primarily focused on profit-making and can be instrumental to negative impact, including poor corporate governance, climate change and child labour, there is also counter proof that many businesses contribute prominently towards providing solutions to social problems.  

How corporate partnerships can tackle common ailments

Many big businesses have entered into partnerships to solve the endemic problems of the human race over time and the Access Bank-led partnership with Global Business Coalition Health (GBC Health) – an international coalition of over 230 businesses whose aim is to leverage the resources of the business community for positive impact on global health challenges – is one of such them, a partnership which is reportedly growing depth with Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote, sharing plans in September 2017 of building an African Business Coalition on Health (ABCHealth).

Access Bank has contributed over a $1 million to the global fund and worked within the country to raise $5 million to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa, in collaboration with other corporate giants.

Its Malaria to Zero campaign has the ambitious target of saving one million lives by 2020 by leveraging private sector resources and capabilities; a very unglamorous, yet morally justified step. Data according to the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2014-2020), points to the fact that malaria is responsible for 60 percent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 25 per cent of deaths in children under one year, and 11 per cent of maternal mortalities. These statistics show that Nigeria accounts for one-quarter of malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa; a region where 88 per cent of all global malaria cases occur and 90 per cent of malaria-related deaths are recorded. This has led to staggering social and economic costs, such as high school and employee absenteeism. Africa’s annual productivity losses directly as a result malaria prevalence is estimated at $12 billion.

Super Eagles back to winning ways with Aiteo sponsorship?

The oil and gas sector has been fraught with conflict ever since Nigeria first found liquid gold; ranging over the years, from communal skirmishes, to the slaying of environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa Sr, to more vandalism and now kidnapping.  Sports has been a motivator, a unifier; and international sporting competitions like the Olympics have fostered unity by uniting nations the world over annually in easy camaraderie.

So has arguably sponsorship by Aiteo, an indigenous oil and gas major, of our national team, the Super Eagles, encouraged renewed interest in our own unifier, football; helping the team’s coaches to worry less about funding and more on the game, leading to better play and Nigerians to hurry home and to viewing centers in droves, with renewed fervor and hope.

When the Super Eagles was drawn in the ‘group of death’ for the world cup 2018 qualifier, alongside Zambia, Algeria, and Cameroun, not many believed in their chance at success. The Super Eagles, however, have played all the way up to Russia 2018, many say as a result of the injection of ₦2.5 billion naira into the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) by Aiteo, becoming Optimum Support Partner, in May 2017.

Since its adoption of football, Aiteo has since adopted the annual Federation Cup, now called Aiteo Cup, and more recently, sponsorship of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) annual awards as title sponsor. Aiteo’s adoption of the Cup has led to a surge in match attendance and the Agege stadium where the Aiteo Cup final match for indigenous clubs was played, this October, witnessed an over flow, a rare phenomenon in local tourneys.

While in the short term, this remarkable progress in the fortunes of the game has generated a lot of interest in the company, it is up to Aiteo to optimise every aspect of its business in order to create shared value and sustainability.

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