Understanding Business Sustainability with Onari Duke
As the Country Director for Empretec Nigeria foundation, a United Nations conference for Trade and Development programs on Entrepreneurship across thirty-six countries, and the Chairman of the Child Survival and Development Organisation of Nigeria, I am passionate about business sustainability.
I bring out the spark in Business Sustainability as I teach business owners how to run their businesses, make a profit and still make an impact.
In 1999, the National Agency for the control of AIDS, NACA, pronounced Cross River as the state with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. However, because of their firm belief that mass awareness is the best approach to health education and intervention, I put together a couple of women who went across the states educating the populace about this scourge.
I had to create projects in three states for orphaned and vulnerable children. Our efforts paid off, and within 18 months, the prevalence of the rates of HIV/AIDS dropped from 12.5% to 6%. This earned usy a recommendation from the World Health Organization and also attracted a grant from the World Bank. This experience grew into my dream, and I was able to appreciate extremely well the co-dependency that people have towards each other and the environment.
As a result, I could register three non-profit organizations on the same day. Twenty years down the line, all three are very successful and of international standards.
Understanding Business Sustainability
Sustainability is the fulcrum on which everything we do rests. I approach almost everything I do from that lens. Come to think of it, by the beginning of creation, we were created on planet Earth. By the very nature of man, we assemble to live together. It is that essence of living together, of identifying the needs that each other has, and trying to meet those needs that developed into businesses.
To run a sustainable business as an entrepreneur, it is essential for your stakeholders, your customers, and the business environment where you’re operating to see you as a business that solves a social problem or an environmental problem.
It is also important for the sincerity and integrity to be evident in your value statement. The sense of justice that you bring to your business is also key. You do not want your customers to doubt you, lose their confidence in you, or be suspicious of your intentions. There are certain things that enhance customer retention. Seeing yourself as being personally responsible for your business is very important and serves the common good for everyone.
The Triple ‘P’ Perspective
I have emphasized the necessity for every business that wants to be sustainable to approach it from the triple P perspective – People, Profit and Planet. I try to balance it on that lever. I know that it is important while running a particular business that I carry along all of my stakeholders as well as employees. So one key quality I had to quickly cultivate over the years is resilience. I had to also ensure that there was trust and integrity while ensuring that I kept the business going.
From running three non-profit organizations, I have learned that the social impact made on the communities they’re operating out of is significant. But, beyond that, profits matter too. Except a business is sustainable, in a short while, everything would crumble, and the company would go under; that’s why sustainability is so vital. Therefore, for entrepreneurs, to ensure the sustainability of your business, please continue to remember that inventing, reinventing, imaging, and re-branding your product’s image is very key. You must emphasize the need for you to continue to innovate your business.
Your Role As An Entrepreneur
If you are to continue and stay in business. You must remember that sustainable business operation is not a destination; it’s a journey — continuous. Perhaps the easy way to start is to start today and do it incrementally, which means reinventing and innovating constantly. However, what is essential is that you are constantly improving on whatever product or service you’re offering.
Also, I want to encourage every entrepreneur to never underestimate their organization’s power or capability to stay focused, believe in sustainability, and develop sustainability practices.
To assure the sustainability of any business, it is key to pay close attention to the supply chain process and this is because irrespective of how careful the internal processes might be if there is a challenge or a shortcoming in the supply of raw materials from the suppliers’ end, that could tarnish the quality of the end product.
The future will be brighter for business sustainability because there’s a lot more awareness now about the need for companies and organizations to run their affairs and operate sustainably. A lot of attention has come into play, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. This has made many organizations, big and small, realize that they have to be more environmentally conscious and anticipate any change in the market.