The University of Cambridge, UK’s Judge Business School has acknowledged the Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), West Africa, in its new model for CSR.

The Centre for CSR, one of the subregion’s leading sustainability and corporate social responsibility, events and advocacy organisations contributed to an extensive CSR research conducted by Prof. Peter Williamson, a Professor of International Management at the University of Cambridge.

In an abstract published on its popular Cambridge Network website, the University cited contributions from the Centre for CSR, West Africa and quoted the Co-Founder of the Centre in many instances.

The research, with a working title: “A new model for CSR”, studied more than 400 firms in five developing nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa with an overview of CSR in West Africa provided by the Centre for CSR. The research reveals that successful corporate social responsibility activity is based on the context of where it is delivered, not just where a business is based. It also reveals that business’ corporate social responsibility activity must adapt to the market where they operate.

Additionally, the research reveals that for some companies trading only in their home market, social responsibility appears not to be a priority, but it becomes a necessity when they start to trade in, say, America, Europe or in developing countries. Furthermore, it shows that there are different expectations for CSR interventions in different parts of the world. The disparity between the nature of CSR interventions expected in the developing world and Europe or America is quite significant.

In the Centre’s contribution to the research, the Lead Project Manager for the Centre for CSR West Africa, Mr. John Kojo Bode Williams reveals that: “A number of indigenous African organisations are following CSR examples of Western multinationals that operate in the same market.” But there is still skepticism that some multinationals are in danger of applying a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to CSR to their operations in developing economies.

Mr. Williams opines that though there are still a number of militating misconceptions about CSR in Ghana and West Africa, many business players in the subregion are gradually embracing the concept and its sustainability dimension. He notes: “Specific expectations from beneficiaries of CSR interventions also influence the type of CSR activity companies implement. Sometimes companies, especially multinationals, are torn between implementing sustainable interventions that meet international best practices and responding directly to need-specific requests from stakeholders.”

According to Prof. Williamson of the University of Cambridge, the New CSR Model is hinged on the principle that companies must adapt their CSR activities to the market where they operate.

As part of efforts to create more awareness around CSR and sustainability and to equip business leaders, the Centre for CSR, West Africa, in April, will organise a series of CSR Training programmes for corporate organisations in Ghana. Similar trainings would be held in other West African countries including Nigeria.

The Centre for CSR, West Africa continues to contribute significantly to the discourse of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility while ensuring companies develop pragmatic and sustainable interventions for all their stakeholders and the environment. Last September, the Centre, in collaboration with the Association of Ghana Industries, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Ministry of Trade and Industry and other strategic partners, successfully organised the 6th Ghana CSR Excellence Awards (GHACEA). MTN, Kosmos, Unilever, Guinness, Tigo, Vodafone, Airtel, PwC, Samba Foods, Prudential Life, Odebrecht Ghana, Huawei Technologies, Databank, Coconut Grove Hotel and Fidelity Bank made the winning list and were well represented by top management-level directors and chief executive officers.