The lasting success and growth of any modern business hinges entirely on its ability to effectively balance economic profitability with truly sustainable business practices. That was the underlying theme of the 2014 Nedbank Capital Sustainable Business Awards hosted by South Africa’s ‘green bank’ at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg this evening.
According to Terence Sibiya, Head of Coverage and Origination for Nedbank Capital, the quality of entries received from across Africa in 2014 served to emphasise the excellence of the winning projects and organisations. In the 2014 Resources and non-Renewable Energy category, Sherritt International Corporation took top honours for its Ambatovy Joint Venture’s Biodiversity Programme. GrowthPoint Properties took home the award in the Infrastructure and Renewable Energy category for its Tshedimosetso House project, while the ReadySet Solar Charging Solution created by MTN Group Ltd. and Fenix International saw this partnership come out tops in the Trade and Services category.
Anglo American Coal SA, and Murray & Roberts Construction were runners up in the Resources & Non-Renewable Energy and Infrastructure & Renewable Energy categories respectively.
Now in their third year, the Nedbank Capital Sustainable Business Awards were established to broaden the scope of the immensely successful Nedbank Capital Green Mining Awards that ran between 2006 and 2011. The awards have since grown into a key means of challenging African companies in all major industries to re-think the way they operate so as to ensure that they deliver sustainable value, in all its forms, to their stakeholders.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, Sibiya emphasised the imperative for every business today to put truly sustainable thought, planning and action at the forefront of its vision and strategy. “The big decision for companies operating in today’s climate is not if they need to think and act sustainably,” he explained, “but rather how they can best integrate economic, social and environmental sustainability into their culture, business models, and day-to-day operations.
Sibiya pointed to this sustainability imperative as the founding principle of the Nedbank Capital Sustainable Business Awards. However, he emphasised that the awards are far more than merely a way of recognising businesses that demonstrate sustainability. Rather, they are intended to encourage more and more businesses to achieve a good balance between financial viability, social upliftment and environmental stewardship, thereby contributing tangibly to the sustainable development of the African continent as a whole.
According to Sibiya, the quantity and quality of entries for this year’s awards confirms that they are serving as a valuable tool in raising awareness of the sustainability imperative amongst organisations across South Africa and into many parts of Africa. This is also the first year that companies across the continent have won awards for their sustainability projects.
“For some time, there has been a lingering misconception that sustainability is exclusively an environmental issue, “ he explained, “but through these awards, and our sustainable business philosophy as a whole, Nedbank Capital is helping to change this perception and bring African businesses to a greater understanding that sustainability is about building the profitability of any business on the indispensible cornerstones of real and lasting positive social, environmental and economic impact.”
In line with this recognition of the integrated nature of true sustainability, Sibiya pointed out that Nedbank Capital’s contribution to building a truly sustainable business world goes far beyond hosting an annual awards ceremony, but that the company is absolutely committed to practicing what it preaches.
“Innovation and client service are key to Nedbank Capital’s own sustainable business model,” he explained, “and every deal we enter into is structured around the creation of innovative solutions, delivered from a full understanding of the sustainability impacts – positive or negative – that the conclusion of each such deal might have.”
“As such, the Nedbank Capital Sustainable Business Awards are an extension of our own sustainability commitment, and our way of challenging and encouraging Africa’s businesses, in all industries, to go beyond compliance and risk management to integrate real sustainability fully into their business DNA.”