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Karani Nyamu on Shifts in Corporate Philanthropy

By Karani Nyamu,

Karani Nyamu is the Group CEO of Nairobi-based IT company Verve KO and also runs  Kore Forests Ltd, a real estate firm.


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While the level of employee volunteerism in social courses in Kenya is largely undocumented and relatively unknown, there are pockets of evidence to show that it actually does exist. The concept of employee-centred corporate philanthropy has always been big in medical courses e.g. Mater Heart Run, though a few peace-building initiatives do exist.

The other fields are environmental clean-ups, and campaigns against drugs and substance abuse.  Kenyan charities tend to have very limited impact, which is a problem that is linked to lack of sufficient data and record keeping as well as low staffing. Even then the average Kenyan employee is becoming more aware about his social and political responsibility.

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Paradigm Shift                                                                                                                         Lots of firms are beginning to realize that giving back is not simply a nice thing to do, but a critical cornerstone of their existence as responsible players in the society’s dynamics. This means that the amount, time and spectrum of corporate philanthropy has greatly expanded.  For a connected society like ours, corporate philanthropy benefits from lots of economic and social trends that has put knowledge into the hands of the citizens.

First, the link between for-profit firms and their non-profit partners have grown exponentially. Many for-profits are more than willing to participate in courses fuelled by their allies in the social sectors across most industries. This partnership has increased the amount of resources available to the non-profits firms.

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Secondly, authentic, sustained and well calibrated social goals are taking the place of the feel good project of yesteryears. Firms want to get as much done as possible in terms of corporate philanthropy. To this end they are willing to invent metrics that will enable them to gauge their level of efforts and results. This includes time, money, outcomes, result vs targets etc.

Thirdly, the corporate philanthropy has become woven into the corporation’s greater cultural and professional fabric. This is a shift away from the dynamics in which philanthropy was merely the responsibility of a department in the organization. This also means that the leadership has to believe in the focus of the corporate philanthropy. Lots of firms set their annual corporate philanthropy goals well ahead of time.

Fourthly, the small and mid-sized firms have joined the foray into corporate philanthropy. This is definitely good news since it adds the number of people and resources availed into the sector. This is a far cry from the days when large multinationals were the bastions of corporate philanthropy in just about every sector.

Karani Nyamu
Karani Nyamu
Group CEO Verve, one of the leading Software and Systems integrators in East Africa.

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