The Ethics 1st program of the US Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Business Integrity Initiative of the UK Government seek to put businesses from the US and the UK in touch with companies in Africa (and elsewhere) that are certified as anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliant. 230,000+ UK SMEs need clean business partners and intermediaries. Is this a business opportunity for your country?
230,000+ UK SMEs need to export to Africa without engaging in corruption. They need clean business partners and intermediaries. Is this a business opportunity for your country? If your country is anything like mine (Nigeria) where corruption is endemic, pervasive and systemic, you will know the business case for spending scarce funds on demonstrating anti-corruption compliance is not that easy to make.
So, the stimulus for any change would need to be external to the currently corrupt environment to catch the attention of business. Free access to those who actually require integrity as a condition for engagement, and in sufficient numbers, is crucial for firms to see a practical benefit in making the investments in time and money needed to build certifiable anti-corruption compliance.
Two opportunities too good to ignore have arisen – The Ethics 1st program of the US Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Business Integrity Initiative of the UK Government. These initiatives seek to put businesses from the US and the UK in touch with companies in Africa (and elsewhere) that are certified as anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliant. This is catching the attention of other OECD countries who are poised to follow suit. These two external, large scale initiatives are important to those who want to do business the right way in Africa.
The CIPE Ethics1st Program
The Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is one of the four institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy in the USA and an affiliate of the US Chambers of Commerce. They are creating a searchable database of compliant African firms
The US Chambers are keen on cross-border trade and business through the Ethics1st Platform. The plan is to pilot with Nigeria and Kenya in 2019 and set standards for counterparts on the continent before a more general roll-out.
The Business Integrity Initiative (BII)
HMG’s BII aims to build a successful British business presence in frontier markets like Nigeria while promoting high standards of integrity and ethical behaviour in line with the 2010 UK Bribery Act. BII will encourage and support UK companies to embed ethical values into business strategy and practice and, in the process, protect the UK’s reputation, support long term growth prospects of UK businesses and strengthen efforts to create a level playing field that enables responsible companies to compete fairly. The initiative is to be piloted immediately in Kenya, Pakistan & Mexico. Nigeria is in the more general roll-out.
The Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) score for Nigeria 27 points out of a possible 100 (0 being totally corrupt and 100 totally clean) suggesting engagement in that territory could be extremely risky for anyone trying to avoid corruption. But then again, corruption risk is mitigated by having a robust process led by CIPE to engage and take African companies through independently verifiable, anti-bribery and anti-corruption certifications processes. In Africa this also includes rigorous risk analyses and verification of governance and controls procedures.
But even if Ethics1st did not exist and BII was not on the cards, a critical mass of clean businesses will still clean up the business environment in Nigeria. The Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) encourages clean business to sign up to the Business Action Against Corruption (BAAC) initiative. This is a business-led collective action that works in partnership with other stakeholders to dismantle the challenges in the business environment that make it difficult for businesses to stay clean. The objectives include
CBi is working towards the conclusion that this is the moment to invest some time, energy and money in achieving this differentiator amongst African companies. We look forward to the Business Integrity Initiative reaching us!