Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy and a subsequent CSR Act is long overdue in Botswana. CSR is the idea that a company operating in a specific host region should play a positive role in the community and consider the environmental and social impact of business decisions. In this regard, CSR can be said to be a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders, especially host communities.
That is, companies that operate in a specific region need to have a positive impact on society especially human well-being and respect and conserve the environment. For example, tourism companies operating in the Okavango Delta and the Chobe District should have a positive impact on the socio-economic well-being of communities which respectively live in these two districts and achieve environmental conservation in the area.
CSR has benefits to all the stakeholders, namely: the private company involved in investment, communities in host regions, government, employees, customers, and shareholders. This is to say, the goal and purpose of CSR is to maximize shared value among organizations, employees, customers, shareholders, and community members even though the precise value may appear different for each of these stakeholders.
In Botswana, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has always been embedded in the tradition of philanthropy and has focused on education, health, religious activities and at times to needy communities. Choppies Supermarket for example, is known for its donation to communities every December at Christmas.
Therefore, different companies involved in CSR activities in Botswana are doing it out of their own goal will without necessarily being bound by any law or regulation. In other countries, CSR in enacted by parliament as law hence all the countries operating do it as part of the law. The time has come for Botswana to have a CSR Policy and Act to guide all the CSR activities being undertaken in the country.
This is particularly so because regions such as the Okavango Delta and Chobe District are rich in biodiversity and natural resources which have come to support the tourism industry, of late, there are mining activities taking place in the area. Companies especially those involved in tourism development in Ngamiland and Chobe Districts need to demonstrate commitment and responsibility towards environmental conservation and socio-economic well-being of communities that live in the area.
In addition, only a handful of companies in Ngamiland and Chobe districts are committed to supporting human well-being, wildlife conservation and environmental management under CSR. Given the relatively large ecological footprint of companies, it becomes more binding on them to contribute with a modest investment to overall prospects of human well-being, biodiversity conservation that can bring substantial economic and reputational benefits to them, and at the same time bring the much needed support and funds for the conservation cause.
The CSR Policy and Act in Botswana should provide an excellent framework for engaging companies in identifying the socio-economic and conservation needs in their respective areas of operation and fulfilling their responsibility towards nature. The CSR Policy and Act in Botswana should be categorized in four ways: environmental responsibility, ethical/human rights responsibility, philanthropic responsibility, and economic responsibility.