How companies step in to fund small businesses

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    As small businesses struggle to obtain the lending they need to start or grow, firms are increasingly stepping in to fill the gap left by banks.

    Younger, smaller businesses with less conventional business models or without a history of sales often find it particularly difficult to be approved for loans by traditional lenders, who can have rigid lending criteria.

    In other hand, companies’ that operate good governance and cares for the community where it does business, try to demonstrate that it is a responsible corporate citizen.

    They do so in various ways: Corporate philanthropy, sundry donations, sponsorships, embarking on community development projects, partnering with Non Governmental Organisations, NGOs to touch the lives of citizens and other strategic alliances that promote the ways they work and live.

    Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, as a strategic fit in corporate governance and sustainability which has gained global prominence, is evident among businesses in Nigeria.

    This is really no compulsion to be a corporate citizen. But the demands of the market place make it inevitable. Consumers and other segments of corporate stakeholders are becoming assertive and more informed; they are asking more questions about transparency and corporate governance, safety of products and services, and business practices. Their expectations are rising daily, and government regulations all over the world are becoming stiffer.

    Watchdogs as represented by NGO and Civil Society organizations are springing up daily all over the world. The net effect is that every corporate body, public or private must become transparent in all its operations, be accountable, and demonstrate its relevance in the society by giving something back to the communities where it does business. In addition, it must tell its CSR stories to let the market know what it is doing in terms of CSR.

    Now CSR has gone beyond giving. It is now a strategic business that positively affects the bottom-line of companies at the end of every business year. One good way companies demonstrates CSR is via community engagement; that is embarking on facilitation or direct construction of projects that improve infrastructure and welfare of citizens, especially in the communities where they do business. The projects can be construction or refurbishment of roads, water supply, health facilities, or maintenance of road safety and general security. These projects directly address the needs and aspirations of the people where corporate bodies do business. Brewery giant, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev)   which makes Hero beer and Castle milk stout among other brands, is one company in the few year it has been in the country that has distinguished itself in the arena of CSR in Nigeria.

    This brewer of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages in Nigeria has over the years, been actively involved in many youth empowerment projects in the South East where its breweries are located

    The company’s engagement programmes have been largely on empowerment of budding entrepreneurs, the police, for proper policing, supporting the road safety.

    It recently,  donated six (6)   Mitsubishi L200 pickup Patrol vehicles to the Nigerian Police and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), as part of its effort to creating a safer and better community. The vehicles were presented to the Commissioner of Police and the Sector Commander of the FRSC at the Intafact Beverages facility in Onitsha, Anambra state, a subsidiary of AB InBev.  The Managing Director of AB InBev in Nigeria and Ghana Mr.   Andries du Plessis, at the handing over ceremony, said donation of vehicles was in keeping with AB inBev’s commitment to creating a better world. Mr. Garba Umar, the   Commissioner of Police   in Anambra State while receiving the vehicles thanked AB InBev for its kind gestures as for recognizing that keeping the communities safe is a collaborative effort between the Government, citizens and organisations just like AB InBev has displayed especially in the wake of the unfortunate incident that took place last Sunday.

    He also noted that these vehicles would go a long way in ensuring that the communities are safe especially as Anambra gubernatorial election approaches. Umar further noted that funding has always been a major setback and enjoins the private sector to partner with the government so as to have a safe community. On the other hand, the Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Anambra, Mr. Sunday Ajayi, said that the donation of vehicles to its command will help his men in carrying out their duties such as preventing and minimizing accidents on the highway especially as the ‘ember’ months approaches.

    On his part,   Otunba Michael Daramola, the Legal and Corporate Affairs Director for AB InBev Nigeria and Ghana said that as a responsible organization AB InBev shall continually strive to create a better world in line with its corporate belief. Speaking further, he noted that their Better world policy is hinged on a growing world, a cleaner world and a healthier world. “This principle has guided us as a company in deciding how to be an active participant in our immediate community as this policy has seen us meaningfully engage the young people so they would be stay out of crime while growing the economy”.    The Mitsubishi L200 pickup Patrol vehicles are powered by Mitsubishi’s 4N15 turbocharged and intercooled diesel engines. The newly developed diesel engine features greatly improved fuel consumption due to a low compression ratio that raises combustion efficiency. Because of its rain sensor, these vehicles detect moisture on the windscreen and activate the wipers automatically.

     



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