Abubakar Suleiman, MD of Sterling Bank
Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman, has called for mainstreaming of sustainability in business processes to increase the flow of resources to projects that have impacts on the environment and people.
Suleiman said this at a media session to unveil the first edition of the Africa Social Impact Summit, a collaborative event slated to hold July 13 and 14 in Abuja.
He observed that it was becoming grossly inadequate to continue to treat sustainability programme as corporate social responsibility (CSR) as that would limit the number of resources committed to the area. Rather, he suggested, “it is something business organisations should take into the mainstream” so that the amount of funding available will be limitless.
The banker wants to see more business conversation around sustainability, saying related projects should be funded by commercial entities rather they being perceived as charity programmes.
He said the shift would help to reduce poverty and that the summit presents a good opportunity for Sterling Bank and other partners to start intensifying efforts in this regard. He warned that Nigeria cannot end hunger by distributing food but by incentivising sustainable growth.
The hybrid summit held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel has attracted 2000 participants from 50 countries, CEO of the Sterling One Foundation (one of the partners), Olapeju Ibekwe, announced.
Other organisations involved in the summit are the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria, Coca-Cola Nigeria, VFD Group and Impact Investors Foundation. It will bring stakeholders together to share ideas, learnings, plans and practical solutions to ensure the holistic achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa with a focus on climate action, education, health, agriculture, circular economy and women empowerment.
With a provision for investment deal-making, the summit aims to provide opportunities for impact investors to collaboratively scale market-led solutions with the potential for long-term impacts.
Ibekwe explained that the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated an urgent framework for Africa to recover some of the progress it made on the Sustainable Development Goals to accelerate growth.
“Over the last two years, we have lost a lot of ground on the progress being made regarding the SDGs especially in Africa, with reports showing that 37 million more people will go below the poverty line just because of the recent pandemic.”
Therefore, we decided that it was necessary to bring key stakeholders to discuss how we can collaborate better, as government, corporate and civil society to drive impact investments into critical areas of the economy in a bid to recover and meet the SDG targets over the next eight years”, she said.