As part of activities marking the 2019 Global Sustainability Week, employees of the pan-African conglomerate, the Dangote Industries Limited flagged off an environment focused initiative tagged “Waste to Wealth initiative”, focused on managing waste disposal while generating income and giving back to communities wherein we operate.
The Company marked the Sustainability Week with the theme: “Our Community, Our Passion” with various activities held in the Lagos and across its Business Units and plants. These activities focused on investment programmes directed towards turning waste to wealth, and reviving reading culture in young children in host communities.
In Lagos, over 200 Sustainability Champions and employee volunteers across the business units, assisted five international facilitators to train the children on turning the most insignificant materials and waste in the environment into tangible assets of economic value to the nation.
Dangote employees took the initiative to St. George Primary School and Aunty Ayo International School in Ikoyi, where the facilitators, with additional help from the volunteers, trained the children on how to manage their wastes and create sustainable products that are marketable from their everyday generated wastes.
Speaking on the initiative, the Group Chief Sustainability and Governance, Dangote Industries Limited, Dr. Ndidi Nnoli, said the company’s sustainability approach is driven by a desire to contribute and impact positively towards the development of host communities and the society at large.
According to her, the 2019 Sustainability Week is directed towards safeguarding the environment by educating the host communities on how to turn waste to wealth to achieve sustainable development.
She said, “We chose St. Georges School because the school is a neighbour to Dangote Head Office building in Ikoyi. Charity begins at home. We started to engender the sustainability culture as an employee volunteering initiative. We honestly believe that people are at the centre of any organisation and sustainability needs to begin with the individual person. It is a culture in Dangote to celebrate the sustainability week every year and this year we decided to bring it to a neighbouring school”.
“It is so important that we bring the initiative to the schools around us because we need to be very concerned about our children, their future, and most especially, education outside the classroom. We need to be concerned about educating our children on sustainability beyond the definition”, she added.
Nnoli disclosed that the company brought international artists to educate the employees that the type of waste that can easily be thrown into the trash can, could be transformed into usable items. “We have people making bangles and pencil cases out of waste plastics. We also have literacy session, mentoring and above all, we are learning about why it is necessary to hunger for knowledge”.
She noted that the Dangote Group has a responsibility to the environment and the society. “We are looking for ways to ensure that value is added to things around us. We have many volunteers who are so eager to learn and impact knowledge to the children. The children are also very excited to learn on new ways to transform the environment.
“For us at Dangote, it is social responsibility and also corporate services, but in this case, the employees have volunteered to carry out this initiative. But the organisation has given us the license to do whatever we want to do. So, as Dangote employees, we have chosen to stand for sustainability, we stand for social development and we stand for the education of a child”, she said.
Giving insight into the programme, the Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Dangote Cement Plc, Dr. Musa Rabiu, said the company’s intention was to create an environment “where we keep improving on how we operate and interact with the environment and regarding people as the most valuable assets”.
He said the company organised the programme to touch the hearts and minds of children who are the next generation by teaching them how to re-use trash.
Rabiu said the initiative was all about reigniting children’s creative ability through innovation by leveraging on technology. “We need to let them know that managing the environment in terms of creativity and innovation is key. With this knowledge, the children are expected to grow up and be conscious of how they can re-use materials in the environment”, he added.
General Manager, Sustainability, Dangote Cement Plc, Eunice Samson, said the company’s intention was to ensure that Dangote employees key into the Group’s vision and volunteer to reach out to the local communities through value addition.
She said the theme for this year’s Sustainability Week “Our Community, Our Passion, the Dangote Way” was a way to make the host community to begin to see the social side of Dangote. “So, for Dangote, it is not always all about business; we also care about the wellbeing of our host communities. With this programme today, we have been able to reach out to over 600 pupils from St. George Primary School and Aunty Ayo International School, Ikoyi, Lagos.
“What we are trying to do is to ensure that we clear the environment of waste by turning it into wealth. We have over 200 Dangote employees who have volunteered to assist the facilitators to teach the children how to turn waste to wealth. The children have been taught how to turn waste plastic bottles into pencil cases, bangles, piggy banks, as well as using used Dangote Cement bags to create gardens” she added.
Speaking also at the event, the Managing Director of African Creative Hub, Jumoke Olowookere, said her responsibility was to teach the participants on how to create a sustainable world without wastes through upcycling wastes towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. •