Are You Compliant?
Two opportunities that SMEs and professionals should not 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 that are certified as anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliant. This has caught the attention of other OECD countries who are poised to follow suit. It is time to invest some time and money towards achieving this emerging competitive edge for African companies!
These two external, large scale initiatives are important to those who want to do business the right way in Nigeria because:
- • How professionals and SMEs in Nigeria win and retain business does not receive much regulatory attention to warrant any change in behaviour. So, stimulus for any change would need to be external to the currently corrupt environment to catch the attention of such actors.
- • Not enough buyers of professional services or goods and services from SMEs require integrity as condition for the engagement. So, the Ethics 1st and Business Integrity Initiative facilitate access to those who actually require integrity as a condition for engagement – a steady stream of potential clients interested in clean business.
- • Acting with integrity is seen by most SMEs and professionals as a moral but impractical, nice-to-have, given the generally corrupt environment in which they operate. Ethics 1st and Business Integrity Initiative offer access to sufficient numbers of buyers of goods and services wanting to do clean business for firms to see a practical benefit in making the investments in time and money to build certifiable anti-corruption compliance.
The CIPE Ethics 1st Program
The Center 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 Ethics First Platform
- • Other prospective partners are from OECD Countries
- • The plan is to pilot with Nigeria and Kenya in 2019 and set standards for counterparts on the continent
The Business Integrity Initiative
• 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
- • To be piloted immediately in Kenya, Pakistan & Mexico. Nigeria is in the roll out.
A Critical Mass of Clean Business, Cleans Up The Business Environment
The Convention on Business Integrity encourages clean business to sign up to the Business Action Against Corruption (BAAC) initiative. This is collective action by business to work as an anti-corruption business coalition (ABC) to work through dismantling the challenges in the business environment that make it difficult for business to stay clean.
- • Cleaning Up Public Procurement – Why should anti-bribery/anti-corruption (ABAC) certification not be part of the criteria for competing in public procurement?
- • Cleaning up the Sea Ports and Terminals – Why should ABAC certification not ensure companies meeting such standards access a fast-track for marine and cargo clearance?
- • Access to Finance – Why should ABAC certification not ensure fast track loan considerations and better terms of business whether in bank or value chain financing?
- • Access to Capital – Why should ABAC certification not mean more favourable consideration by investors choosing a safe haven for their funds?