Environmental and Social Management in African Business Development

POSTED Feb 9, 2017 BY Karen Nash

Another blog this week, but this time not from the JobnetAfrica-team but from our premium member Karen Nash. Karen is our guest blogger and she wrote this insightful and very interesting blog! We hope you enjoy it and don't hesitate to contact Karen if you have any questions regarding this blog.

Implementing any business development project involves addressing multiple issues including finances, availability of skills and expertise, and increasingly the environmental and social aspects. Viewing a project through the environmental and social lens at an early stage allows us to identify potential risks but also the opportunities: additional benefits in terms of local and wider reputation, sustainability (both business and environmental) and local community acceptance. More proactive engagement with environmental and social aspects has time and time again led to fewer unknown risks and better risk management in the short and the long term.

There is often unforeseen potential for social investment and development benefits to accrue which are wider than the original business idea. Such as the local community revenue consistency and stability which resulted from establishing a chimpanzee refuge in the Congo; or education benefits from local training and capacity building for tourism in Kenya, mining in Mozambique and agribusiness projects in Rwanda, linked in some but not all cases to national vocational training initiatives.

Good to outstanding environmental and social management can be the business ‘USP’ - from tourism to tea, agribusiness to aviation, storage to shipping - and make the difference in leveraging finance, personnel, permits to operate, and access to markets. As well as environmental permitting, supply chain constraints are also on the increase - human rights, environmental and social concerns having potential negative impacts on access to developed and newly developed country markets, including BRICS.

A transparent approach to environmental and social management should be built in to early stage project planning - allowing full focus on core business activities during subsequent stages and avoiding costly delays. In these days of international social media, ignoring the environmental and social issues is unwise, and can cost literally millions of dollars in lost revenue. Embracing them can be a significant business advantage.


Karen S. Nash, Director ResourceSocietyEnvironment @ MDS Mining & Environmental Services: With African experience dating back to the 1980s, I can support you and your team from project inception to address, reduce and manage potential environmental and social risks and issues. I provide specialist advisory services to support compliance with Environmental and Social standards, regulatory requirements and performance goals associated with doing business in Africa. This includes addressing issues related to environmental and social impacts, environmental and social management planning, due diligence, human rights, supply chain and corporate social responsibility. No business too small!