The key to the sustainability of any business is collaborative corporate social investments; business survival is predicated on the level of support and goodwill it enjoys from its stakeholders, particularly its host community. Stanbic IBTC understands this, which is why CSI is ingrained in its corporate philosophy rather than being an appendage to the business. “Our business philosophy is anchored on and vested in building relationships and trust with our communities and other key stakeholders,” Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, Mr. Yinka Sanni, said.
Equally important for Stanbic IBTC was the need to inspire and engage its employees, as part of its key stakeholder groups, in ongoing CSI efforts. Thus, the financial institution’s approach to CSI is two-pronged: first, its core group CSI initiatives under which its signature CSI falls, and the encouragement of staff CSI volunteerism or departmental activations. “At Stanbic IBTC, our vision recognizes that our people are our most important asset, which makes it imperative to inspire and engage employees in ongoing CSI efforts to make a meaningful impact,” Sanni said. According to him, “Through staff CSI volunteerism or contribution alone, we have invested over N100 million towards various charitable causes under the health, education and economic empowerment portfolios year-to-date.” These causes are focused on the three core CSI pillars of Stanbic IBTC, which are Education, Health and Economic Empowerment.
Stanbic IBTC’s signature CSI, tagged Together4 A Limb, although is health related, has an education element to it. It focuses on transforming the lives of indigent children suffering limb losses, either through accidents, mismanaged injuries or congenital issues/birth defects. Such children are offered prostheses and educational trust funds by Stanbic IBTC, effectively addressing both their health and education needs. An important aspect of the signature CSI is the charity walk, organized yearly to raise awareness of the plight and, hopefully, ginger deliberate actions by government, policymakers, and the general public to address the problem.
“Only a mother would know the joy I felt to see Aliyu walk again.” This statement was made last year in Abuja by Mrs. Sharetu Usman, mother to then three-year-old Aliyu Usman, a beneficiary of prosthetic limbs from Stanbic IBTC as well as an Educational Trust Fund from the financial institution. Aliyu had lost a limb to an accident. Indeed, the elation was plain to see as Mrs Usman pranced about during the Stanbic IBTC Together 4 A Limb charity walk to raise awareness for limbless underserved children.
Since the 2015 launch of the Together 4 A Limb initiative, Stanbic IBTC has helped to change the course of the lives of little Aliyu and 19 young Nigerians who have suffered limb losses. The signature corporate social investment initiative of the Stanbic IBTC Group was formally launched on December 2, 2015. The launch was preceded by a charity walk on November 14 that year, flagged off by Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, wife of the Lagos State governor, who commended Stanbic IBTC for its laudable corporate social investment projects, particularly in the area of education. Sanni had said at the launch three years ago that the adoption of the Together 4 A Limb as its flagship CSI initiative stemmed from the fact that it addressed the financial institution’s three cardinal CSI objectives of health, education and economic empowerment. “We focus on three CSI pillars which are Health, Education and Economic Empowerment. We also work in partnership with the communities in which we operate by employing a research-based approach to understand the deeper socio-economic needs of these communities,” Sanni said.
Indeed, by focusing on the provision of prostheses, Stanbic IBTC had touched on a profound area of need and is able to address its three CSI pillars in one fell swoop. By committing to provide artificial limbs for beneficiaries until they are 18 years effectively takes care of their all round healthcare needs. Such commitments help to give the beneficiary children access to quality medical facilities they otherwise would not have been able to afford. The average lifespan of a prosthesis is three years and to fit the artificial limbs, a comprehensive health check is often required. What this means is that the children are exposed to regular medical checks and the state of their health becomes paramount. Stanbic IBTC equally opened a N1.5 million education trust fund for each of the children fitted with prostheses, thus exposing them to quality education.
By addressing the children’s healthcare and educational needs, Stanbic IBTC has greatly reduced the financial burdens on the parents, which will help empower them economically. With less worries on the health and education needs of their children, parents are able to conserve the family income and deploy such for other useful needs. “We feel particularly passionately about this initiative knowing that we are able to take off the burden from parents and we will change the prostheses regularly until the children are 18. Our long term goal is to help these children reach their possible potential,” Sanni added.
Perhaps of greater importance is the yearly charity walk by Stanbic IBTC to help raise awareness about the need to support the vulnerable in society, the indigents and the youth, particularly limbless children who are often stigmatized and treated as if they are less human than the full limbed children. Stanbic IBTC has walked
While accurate figure is not available, estimates put the population of limbless individuals in the country at roughly 20 million, of mostly children and young adults. According to the International Society for Prosthetists and Orthotics, “There are no standard figures as to how many amputees or orthotics users there are in Nigeria.” What this means is that the figure could be less or more than the estimated 20 million. In any case, the growing population of amputees, driven by the insurgence in the north and a culture of reckless driving, is enough cause to worry and require massive focus. For instance, little Aliyu was an unfortunate victim of a careless tricycle driver.
By contributing to creating awareness of the plight, Stanbic IBTC envisages a better understanding of the condition, the causes, management and even preventative initiatives by both individuals and governments. Above that, better understanding will no doubt remove the associated stigma and the psychological damage that could have on the physically challenged.
The 2017 charity walk on 28 October witnessed a new set of beneficiaries for prostheses and education trust funds. “Through the provision of prostheses and education trusts to indigent children who have suffered limb losses, we are assisting young Nigerians to enable them get on with their lives in a productive manner,” Sanni said. Themed ‘Just another way of moving you forward,’ the event witnessed a massive turnout of participants wearing Stanbic IBTC’s deep blue corporate colours, walking a distance of eight kilometres.
The 2017 walk, unlike the previous two that covered three kilometres each, stretched for eight kilometres. The extended distance is significant. It is apparent that the financial institution is desirous of deepening the awareness drive to further raise public consciousness. The eight-kilometre charity walk took longer to navigate, took in more neighbourhood/people, and generated more publicity.
It is not surprising that Stanbic IBTC continues to receive glowing commendations for this bold initiative from governments and from beneficiaries. Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, who flagged off the maiden edition of the walk in 2015, commended Stanbic IBTC for its “diligence” and “responsible approach” to corporate social investments and pledged the Lagos State government’s support for the initiative. According to wife of the Zamfara State governor, Hajiya Asma’u Yari, who represented Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, at last year’s walk in Abuja, “I feel honoured to be a part of this wonderful cause. Reaching out and helping children with limb losses and giving them a new life to become worthwhile individuals has gone a long way to show that Nigeria is indeed ready for change.”
Understandably, young Aliyu’s mother was effusive with praises at what she saw as a positive contribution to the son’s life. “I say thank you to Stanbic IBTC. If not for them, how would I have been able to afford prosthesis? He (Aliyu) would probably have started having back pains and we would be running from one hospital to the other,” she said, and added, “If more organizations can come out like Stanbic IBTC, lives of children and parents would be better. So, I truly appreciate Stanbic IBTC. They are doing a wonderful thing.”
The charity walk will continue to define Stanbic IBTC’s social responsiveness and desire for prosperous citizens and nation. The walk is emblematic of the financial institution’s tagline, which promises to move people forward, in their personal and business lives. The twin tactics of health and education for the children help to build their bodies and minds in a way to benefit the children as well as the society.
Stanbic IBTC’s wide footprints across the country positions it well to make an appreciable impact in awakening the critical mass consciousness through the charity walk required to tackle the limbless menace head-on, particularly through government’s inclusive policy on healthcare and education for the limbless and physically challenged in the society as well as a general health consciousness among Nigerians.
Staff members are encouraged to come together in groups to raise funds to address a cause each group is passionate about. Staff have in the past donated libraries, classrooms, and health facilities, among other interventions. In October 2017, for instance, a group of staff donated a block of six classrooms to the National Orthopaedic Special School, Igbobi, Lagos.
At the donation, representative of Lagos State Deputy Governor and Tutor General of Lagos State, Mrs. Lola Are-Adegbite, commended Stanbic IBTC for what she called “a legacy worthy of emulation.” She said the state is very impressed with the quality of the donated facility, which, according to her, has redefined learning in terms of comfort and conduciveness. “The state is very impressed with the quality of the classrooms, built to very high taste, bearing in mind the comfort of the students and the conduciveness of learning,” Mrs. Are-Adegbite said. Principal of the school, Mrs. Veronica Aibinu, said the school was most appreciative of the gesture. “On behalf of the pupils and the school management, I want to say a big thank you to Stanbic IBTC and also to assure you that we shall make good use of the facility you have provided,” Mrs. Aibinu said.