The Sahara Group comes across easily as a brand passionate about philanthropy. Ever since it was founded 20 years ago, it has dedicated itself to value adding corporate social responsibility.
And so, it did not come as a surprise when it announced recently that its 20th anniversary celebration will be dedicated to giving back to indigent communities and supporting sustainable development projects at its various locations across the globe.
Sahara’s Executive Director, Tonye Cole, said the Group had since its inception in 1996 been passionate about giving and serving, adding that it considered the opportunity to increase its involvement in empowering lives and communities a “unique privilege”.
Cole said Sahara would work closely with governments and stakeholders in countries where it operates, the United Nations, European union, sustainable development goals fund (SDG-F) and other partners to enhance the quest for inclusive economic growth, poverty eradication, food security and access to potable water.
Sahara’s intervention projects will be coordinated by the Sahara Foundation, the Group’s corporate responsibility vehicle. The Foundation’s focus areas include education and capacity building, environment, health and sustainable community development.
“Sahara has so much to be grateful for having started from very humble beginnings 20 years ago to becoming one of Africa’s leading energy conglomerates. To mark this milestone, Sahara will initiate and support more projects that would help bring the world closer to achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030,” he stated.
He added: “Over the past 20 years, probably the greatest source of inspiration for Sahara is knowing that we have stood as a sure source of inspiration for a generation of young men and women, especially the less privileged of our society. By giving them opportunities to fulfill their dreams, nurturing hope and belief in themselves that they can attain any goal they set for themselves, we have seen lives transformed for the better.”
Sahara’s growth has seen it extend its vision of “bringing energy to life” from Lagos, Nigeria to other locations in Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia. The Group has operating entities at these locations that are leading players in the power, downstream, midstream, upstream and infrastructure sectors.
In recognition of its contribution to supporting sustainable development, Sahara was in 2015 inducted into the private sector advisory board of the SDG-f where it plays a critical role in the development platforms for effective global collaboration towards realizing the SDGs.
Describing some of the impact areas the Foundation would be involved in this anniversary year, Cole said Sahara, in collaboration with the SDG-F and the Kaduna state government will unveil the Food Africa Project aimed at driving economic empowerment and poverty alleviation for over half a million people through food security. The project will achieve this through robust optimization of the entire food value chain and keying into the school feeding program of the state government.
Cole stated that following the Foundation’s highly successful campaign with the Carter Center to eradicate the guinea worm scourge in Nigeria, both organisations will tackle the rising menace of water borne diseases at various camps for Internally Displaced Persons. “Sahara Foundation in partnership with the Carter Center will be donating boreholes to the camps, while some individuals in the camps will be trained on how to deploy basic toolkits to rectify minor faults on the machines. This will promote sustainability of the project and empower the people so trained,” he explained.
Sahara’s Youth Creativity Challenge – in partnership with Enactus Nigeria, will inspire students from over 50 tertiary institutions across Nigeria to develop sustainable projects in various deprived communities. In 2016, the students will be required to design projects aimed at providing solutions to certain environmental and health issues in selected communities. Sahara Foundation is currently working on how this will be replicated in other Sahara locations across the globe, in addition to the development of a project that is expected to empower 10 million youths directly through various engagements.
Sahara will also embark on and support more community health awareness campaigns, educational advancement programmes, clean environment projects and capacity building engagements in all its locations.
In 2015, Sahara Foundation reached out to over 50,000 direct beneficiaries through its various projects and initiatives. Sahara also achieved a total of 1500 staff volunteer hours in line with the group’s policy that enshrines volunteering as a core aspect of its Personal and Corporate Social Responsibility (PCSR) projects.
The Foundation received several awards for its contribution to the society. These include: Down Syndrome recognition award (2015) – for contribution towards the upliftment of people with Down Syndrome in Nigeria; special recognition in Dubai at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) for contribution to youth empowerment and Great Place to Work Award 2015 – in recognition for efforts at making the world a better place through best practice and excellent track record in Corporate Social Responsibility.