Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Making Corporate Social Responsibility Work: Do Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) in Ghana Care at All?

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Making Corporate Social Responsibility Work: Do Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) in Ghana Care at All?

Article excerpt

Introduction

The concept, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), has been widely used and debated differently by different people including investors, business people, government officials and the public in general. It is not a new concept, but the upsurge of the debate on CSR has made the concept seemingly new, particularly in Ghana. In Ghana, CSR has received minimal attention until recent times. Research on CSR assumed attention in the very recent past due to the role CSR has played in the development of communities affected by the operations of firms particularly in mining communities. It is obvious that CSR practices have become more or less a favour granted by corporations, instead of an obligation, as seen in other countries. For instance, in Africa and particularly Ghana, given the diversity of the concept, its understanding or meaning varies from industry to industry. While the banking industry for instance practices CSR in terms of social services and community development activities, the extractive industry rather focuses on environmental issues. This has led to the current situation where "the concept is defined, approached and practiced from different directions by various people based on their priorities and influenced by the needs and aspirations of their peculiar social, economic and political settings" (Taylor, 2011, p. 19).

Research studies carried out by Atuguba and Dowuona-Hammond (2006), Ofori and Hinson, (2007), Boon and Ababio (2009), and Hinson, Boateng, and Madichie (2010), on CSR in Ghana have largely focused on multinational enterprises. This is because corporations concerned with CSR are generally multinational. Small and medium-sized companies or born-local businesses do not appear to give much importance to CSR, perhaps because these companies typically do not have adequate economic or human means to implement a CSR policy. Notwithstanding the profit margins recorded by most of these local companies, there seem to be little or no contributions made to the communities in which they operate. Much more crucial is the indication by Atuguba and Dowuona-Hammond (2006) that it has become more difficult to hold corporations responsible for their social responsibilities because there is virtually the absence of a readily-available source document on CSR for reference.

Typical among these born-local firms are the rural and community banks (RCBs) that emanated from the concept of microfinance from the Grameen Bank. The first Rural and Community Bank in Ghana was established in 1976 primarily to provide banking services by way of funds mobilization and the provision of credit to cottage industry operators, farmers, fishermen, and regular salaried employees. They were also to grant credits to customers for the payment of school fees, acquisition or rehabilitation of houses and for taking care of medical expenses (Nair & Fissha, 2010). Fully owned by individual shareholders who are residents of communities in which they operate, RCBs are characteristically communally owned. Arguably, with this relationship with local communities, these banks are expected to commit part of their profits to social developmental activities such as donations to support education, health, traditional administration and the needy in their respective communities, engagement in specific gender programmes focusing on women-in-development and credit-with-education activities for rural women. With its recent impressive growth, the rural banking sector of Ghana has been identified as a crucial vehicle to achieving the new sustainable development goals (SDGs). Apart from the official development financing sources, RCBs philanthropic contributions and social entrepreneurial activities have been described as one sustainable source of financing the achievement of these seventeen SDGs many of which are included in the mandate of RCBs (Addo, 2016).

It would be admitted that CSR itself is in its early days in Ghana, which is reflective of the limited research studies on CSR in Ghana. …

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