CSR project with a long-term view
By Carole Kimutai, Nairobi, Kenya
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is key for any business operating anywhere in the world. The big question is how to come up with projects that not only give back to the community but are also sustainable and add value to the business. Yes, there is always a catch in CSR.
For technology companies, Africa is the place to be because of the growing middle-case and the fast rate of technology adoption. Tech companies will come and find older established corporates that are running projects meeting needs of communities and could be wondering what they can do. CSR has moved from giving cheques to disadvantaged groups of societies to “teaching communities how to fish” in NGO-speak.
In line with this trend, early this week (14th May), 200 students pioneered the new Samsung Engineering Academy in Nairobi, Kenya. The Academy is aimed at addressing the critical technical and engineering skills shortage in Kenya.
It is the second such training facility in Africa (after South Africa) that has opened doors to full scholarship pioneer students as part of a wider goal to develop 10,000 electronic engineering apprentices across Africa by the year 2015. Students will get training as qualified service technicians to repair new generation electronic equipment like; LED/LCD TV’s, laptops, refrigerators, mobile handsets and tablets. The skills acquired are supposed to enable them to access income generating opportunities in the formal or informal sector upon graduation.
The students are from various institutions in Kenya and will undergo training in digital electronics engineering. The class will be delivered as a modular training program covering digital electronics repair and service skills. Students will receive free training and hands on exposure to modern electronics engineering practices, as part of the firms bid to deepen technical skills and facilitate job creation options.
The setting up of the Academy is part of Samsung’s “Built for Africa Strategy” which aims at raising technical skills in tandem with its continued marketing of products manufactured to meet the unique African conditions. As part of its wider design, the Samsung Engineering Academy is also aligned to the government’s Vision 2030 blueprint to encourage entrepreneurship and self-employment initiatives.
Samsung Electronics East Africa has also committed to assist the students in kick-starting their careers by giving them the opportunity to intern at its Customer Service Centres and thereafter work as independent service technicians or employees in their retail channel partner outlets across the region.
According to Samsung Electronics East Africa Service Lead Koki Muia the firm has also opened a Customer Service Plaza in the same building as the Engineering Academy. Besides providing a one-stop shop for service, repair and inquiries on all Samsung products the service centre will also provide students at the Engineering Academy with first-hand experience on how customer and product repairs are managed. “We believe we can best achieve our goal of positively impacting the communities in which we operate by connecting our social investment initiatives to our history and core business,” Muia reiterates.
Samsung is looking at developing a skilled workforce of technicians and exclusive service experts to differentiate Samsung as a quality, service-oriented company. “We also need to sustain our level of innovation, which can oly be achieved if we invest in education to facilitate skills development in Africa,” says Muia.
Samsung plans to launch a third Academy in Nigeria later this year.