East Africa

In 2012, GBI worked with the Global Compact Network Kenya, the Kenya Association of Manufactures, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to deliver a one-day Roundtable entitled “East African Roundtable for Business Leaders – Implementing Corporate Respect for Human Rights.

East African Roundtable for Business Leaders – Implementing Corporate Respect for Human Rights – 8 November 2012, Nairobi, Kenya

In 2012, GBI worked with the Global Compact Network Kenya, the Kenya Association of Manufactures, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to deliver a one-day Roundtable entitled “East African Roundtable for Business Leaders – Implementing Corporate Respect for Human Rights”.

The event was attended by over 130 participants with the majority coming from Kenyan and East African businesses, along representatives of international businesses, civil society, government and the United Nations.

Speakers at the event included representatives from: Safaricom, Kenya Power, East African Breweries, and Kapa Oil; from multinational corporations such as General Electric Company, Unilever and Unilever Tea Kenya, Shell, and Novo Nordisk; and from international organisations including the International Labour Organisation and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.

“East African countries have had similar experiences and orientation, and thus there is a need to come together to forge a way forward. The agenda today shows that human rights are not negotiable: human rights are part of business. The question is: How do we do business responsibly in the context of our current society?” Vimal Shah, Vice‐Chair, Kenya Private Sector Alliance, and CEO, Bidco

“It’s not your competitors you need to worry about: It’s your entire stakeholder ecosystem. No amount of R&D will get you out of the problem of how consumers view you. Customers stay with Safaricom because they see that this organization has a conscience beyond its profit line.” Nzioka Waita, Corporate Affairs Director, Safaricom

“The Guiding Principles clarify who does what between government and business. They allow us to bring the human rights discussion into the organization and move policy into practice. The Guiding Principles do not advocate a ‘one size fits all’ approach but allow you to address the most important issues first based on where your risks are.” Bert Fokkema, Sustainable Development Manager–Human Rights, Shell

“Kenya’s value is in its people. It is the human resources available in Kenya that can make us leaders in the region.  But we also have a governance deficit. Business must exercise caution if it is going to avoid becoming complicit.” Wambui Kimathi, Former Commissioner at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

“Unilever has started human rights training for all our people, across the business and from our Board down. We know we still have a lot to do on this and a long way to go, but the more we talk about issues, the more we understand. And finally we will achieve better respect for human rights for all of us.” Rachel Cowburn‐Walden, Global External Affairs Manager Corporate Responsibility, Unilever

“We take a holistic approach to how we deal with people, stakeholders, and communities. We have looked at three elements of how we manage water in our operations: efficiency of water use, how we manage waste water, and the impact of waste water. We are working to improve all of these.” Paul Kasimu, Group HR Director, East African Breweries

“This is a good moment to bring this discussion to Kenya, as businesses here have been making many strides in the context of the 2010 Constitution. The Roundtable is an opportunity to engage in honest conversations on how businesses have implemented respect for human rights and to learn from those who have already started the journey.” Betty Maina, CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, and Representative, UN Global Compact Local Network