Theme: How Small and Medium Enterprises can commit to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Kenya

List of Attendees

  1. Amos Mwongera, Country Director – B-LAB
  2. Ms. Judy Njino, Executive Director – UN Global Compact Kenya
  3. Leah Kibe, Associate Director – KPMG
  4. Grace Njoroge, Partner – KPMG
  5. Ryan Pape, Managing Director – Om Nom Nom Africa
  6. Geoffrey Otieno, Managing Director – Enreal
  7. Charles Kariuki, Managing Director – AAR
  8. Wambui Kibicho, Partner – Extra Dimensions Ltd
  9. Lisa Doherty, Deputy HOM – Embassy of Ireland
  10. Sharon Gordon, Consultant – ACE
  11. Dr. Vincent O’Neill, Ambassador – Embassy of Ireland
  12. Kenneth Gitonga, Commercial Attache – Embassy of Ireland
  13. Karin Boomsma, Lead – KEPSA/Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB) Programme

Opening Remarks: Ambassador of Ireland, Dr. Vincent O’Neill

The Chair, Dr. Vincent O’Neill, welcomed all present to the meeting, and gave a brief overview of the agenda. He introduced Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) and stated that the aim of the discussion was to review and share the experiences of various organisations/companies in integrating commitments to the SDGs in their work processes, and identify how networks like BIK can work with members to incorporate SDGs into their business models. The Ambassador also informed the audience that there will be an Event at the Capital Club on 15th November 2018 to expound on the SDGs discussion. The event will focus on, shaping a sustainable future-why a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals is good for your business.

Presentation by Judy Njino, Executive Director of United Nations Global Compact

Judy Njino introduced the UN Global Compact as a flagship UN agency focusing on the private sector to advance sustainability for responsible business conduct with the aim of contributing to sustainable development. This initiative was first proposed by the late Kofi Annan who argued that business can be a force for good provided business is done with values. The values articulated by the UN Compact are a set of 10 principles covering human rights, environment, labour and anti-corruption.

She emphasised that SDGs are an excellent opportunity to mobilise further private sector action to support and provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges e.g. climate change, unemployment, conflicts etc. Private sector has a critical role to play in advancing some of these issues.  At the UN global compact, the 10 principles are fundamental responsibilities that businesses must meet and are non-negotiable. UN Global Kenya has over 80% SME signatories who are sensitized, engaged and are looking to explore different options in terms of their contribution to the SDGs.

Judy admitted that there are some challenges in implementation and policy commitment by CEOs of SMEs and a gap in access to resources and tools to translate these principles/commitments to actions. UN global compact helps to translate these commitments to actions by building capacity through trainings, availing them customized tools and resources and also providing them a platform for networking and peer learning.

Lastly, she noted there is a need to figure out how best to bring everyone on board to mobilise business actions for the SDGs. Business networks like BIK have a critical role to help secure these commitments and linking them to the resource people for implementation and to help businesses realise the ambitions of SDGs.

 Presentation by Leah Kibe, Associate Director of KPMG.

Leah highlighted that the interest of SMEs in relation to SDGs is on the economic benefits they would get by investing in SDGs.  She noted that KPMG works with UN global compact team on SDGs industry metrics that measure different companies on performance against the UN principles from a governance, implementation and returns perspective. KPMG also runs the top 100 competition that measures the performance of local businesses across different criteria, including, monitoring their growth, cash flow and their focus on the SDGs.

In her remarks she highlighted that there is a need to understand the profile of SMEs and these can be grouped into three stages:

  1. Early stage SME- The SME is defining its business operations and setting itself up.
  2. Growth Stage SME-The SME is making economic returns and is trying to incorporate the social aspect in their way of doing business.
  3. The Mature SME -This is an SME that is scaling their business operations, challenging the eco system and being influencers in the market.

She reiterated that there is need to understand the profiles of SMEs and engage each of the categories in a different way from an SDG conversation and measurement perspective.

Leah noted that there is need to consider the following principles to bring greater impact on SDGs conversation:

  1. The need to pursue transparency and measures for SDGs.
  2. Building an environment that expands funding for SMEs.
  3. How well are we building market-based innovations such as aligning industries in similar value chains to enhance and build synergies.
  4. Enhance Governance and reporting measures that report back SDGs performance
  5. Have approaches and systems that attract talents towards professional business delivery.
  6. Form collaborations/associations/platforms that keep the SDG conversation going.

Presentation by Amos Mwongera, Country Director of B-LAB.

Amos Mwongera Introduced B-Lab as a company that provides businesses with tools and metrics to measure their social and environmental impact. B-Lab gets companies to think proactively about what their businesses are doing not only for the shareholders but also for the stakeholders. He noted that there is no measurement of how much profit is enough and businesses should be thinking about how sustainable they can be as an operation and the kind of impact they can have on the people around them. He also noted that, there are many businesses that view SDGs as an expense as opposed to an investment in the future but in many instances, the more you think about your wider stakeholder the more sustainable you become as an operation.

B-LAB have certified big companies in about 70 countries around the world. They have a regional office in East Africa, Nairobi which will be officially launched on October 25th, 2018. B-LAB has a tool that was developed over 11 years ago to carry out the B Impact Assessment (BIA) which is a free, confidential platform designed to help measure and manage a company’s positive impact on its workers, community, customers and environment. The companies that meet the highest verified standards of social environment impact are issued with a B Corp Certification status.

He concluded by noting that there is an overlap between the development and business space where companies are now doing more of the development work and those in the development space are doing business. This is evidence that there is an overwhelming desire for businesses to support the achievement of SDGs in their business processes.

 Discussion.

Thereafter, the Ambassador posed a few questions and participants provided suggestions.  A number of companies from the round table provided suggestions on the questions below including KEPSA, Enreal, Om Nom Nom, AAR, Extra Dimensions, Enterprise Ireland and Embassy of Ireland. These included:

Q1: What are some of the lessons learnt by companies investing in SDGs.

The following was the feedback from the participants

  • There is need to raise awareness on SDGs by sharing knowledge and providing financial support.
  • NGOs and businesses can work together where businesses set targets on economic returns and NGOs guarantee the impact.
  • Inviting various partnerships/networks/associations brings collective efforts and supports SMEs that want to be involved with the SDGs.
  • There is need to support SMEs develop strategies and implementation that help them focus and track their progress on the SDGs
  • To avoid duplication organisation and associations pursuing the same goals should work together to create synergy.
  • There is a need to focus on SMEs beyond Nairobi and focus on businesses in other counties and rural areas.
  • Have case studies/evidence /proof on the importance of SDGs
  • SDGs should be incorporated in the culture of the business and not hinged on one person so as to ensure continuity and sustainability
  • Targeting Millennials to drive the SDG agenda in organisations as most are interested in creating an impact to their communities and this is important to their work.
  • Have reports for assessing SMEs involvement in SDGs. Most SMEs look at SDGs as a commercial aspect and are not able to keep track on the development impact they have on the ground.

 Q2: How to facilitate business networks (BIK) to support their members in committing to SDGs in their business processes.

  • Have different case studies that resonates with SMEs in Kenya.
  • Have practical experiences from businesses that have incorporated SDGs in their businesses processes.
  • Get the millennials to talk about their experiences especially start ups
  • Integration of SDGs Conversations-How do we bring these millennials into these conversations and how do we include sustainability in business inclusion?
  • Using seed grants to funding ideas related to SDGs implementation
  • Studying the phase which the business is at before having the SDG conversation.
  • Building of partnerships where businesses keep track of the profits made while NGOs keep track on the impact numbers.
  • Some SMEs don’t understand the impact they already make and how this is related to SDGs. They therefore need help to understand what the SDGs are beyond just a big set of goals
  • SDGs conversations should be aligned to businesses in the same stage of growth.

Q3: What is a useful focus of the Capital Club business meeting planned for on November 15th, 2018

  • The opportunities for businesses in implementing SDGs; sustainability, evidence and measurements
  • Need for Support of SMEs in implementing SDGs
  • Presenting different types of case studies that resonates with SMEs in Kenya
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of Business Councils to support SMEs in implementing SDGs?
  • Have enablers of SMEs to contribute to the discussion and share ideas. Proposed enablers may include; KEPSA, County Governments, Global compact teams who can provide knowledge on the SDGs

Following the roundtable discussion, the Ambassador thanked everyone for their participation and invited all present, to the SDG Event which will be held at the Capital Club East Africa in Westlands, Nairobi on 15th November 2018 to carry forward the SDGs discussion. The meeting was concluded at 2.00 pm and members were then given the opportunity to network.

Embassy of Ireland, November 1,2018.