Shayona forges ahead with CSR in Malawi despite poor business environment

Shayona forges ahead with CSR despite poor business environment

By Chiku Jere

201802 Malawi Mining & Trade Review Shayona Cement CSR.png

Shayona Cement Corporation has pledged to continue fulfilling its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme despite facing difficult times ushered in by ‘the current bad business environment’.

The commitment was made at the company’s factory  in rural Kasungu by its Operations Manager, Prajeesh Padmanabhan, during a handover ceremony of drugs worth K2.5million to St Augustine Community Clinic and desks and teachers’ furniture worth K6.5million to three schools – Ergo and Chamama Community Day Secondary Schools and Chigumba Primary School.

The company is going through a very bad patch in terms of business. The situation on the market seems to be getting worse, but we cannot afford to pay a blind eye to matters of the community and matters of national interest because Shayona Cement Corporation is more than just a cement manufacturing company,

said Padmanabhan.

He said Shayona is a true development partner of the Malawi nation, a fact which compels it to always take a leading role in implementing programmes to support the Malawi community.

The event also included a tree planting exercise that saw the planting and distribution of over 5000 Mahogany tree (Khaya Anthothecca) seedlings worth K2.5million to over 10 schools.

The K11.5 million pumped into the three components of the CSR investment – education, health and environment on that day was a finalization of Shayona’s K18million allocated for the 2017 CSR programme.

Padmanabhan also announced that they have also allocated the same figure (K18million) for the year 2018 CSR activities.

We were supposed to raise up the figure but the situation on the market is not permissible. Among other challenges, we still face stiff competition from unfair importation of cement and power also has become a major setback. The blackouts issue is affecting industrialization in Malawi. Imagine we have power just in four out of the seven days a week which is immensely affecting our production,

he said.

Nevertheless, Padmanabhan said the company continues to put much effort to maintain standards and offer the market the best.

We are still focusing on our expansion drive which is not only looking at the local market but we also want to compete at the regional level,

he said.

Presiding over the function as guest of honour was Kasungu District Council Acting Director of Administration Thomas Mwafongo who stood in on behalf of the District Commissioner.

In his remarks, Mwafongo hailed Shayona for being a shining example when it comes to CSR as well as investing big in the country, which, he said, needs factories to grow its economy.

Agriculture alone cannot help us change our economic fortunes. Selling of raw materials has become economically redundant and unattainable. We need to start adding value to produce through factories if we are to attain tangible economic contribution from our raw materials,

he said.

He, therefore, urged communities to support investors who come to set up factories in their areas saying for Malawi to develop, there is need for mindset change by communities.

Communities need to reduce resistance to development. We need to be open-minded people who welcome and accommodate investors, because, through such massive investments, we will end up being winners as an area, a district, as well as a country,

said Mwafongo.

Shayona Factory Administration Manager Austin Mvula attributed the resilient and success of Shayona to the visionary leadership of the company’s directors with support from management and staff.

Everyone can see we have grown. From a mini struggling cement manufacturing plant, producing just a little above 80 tons of cement per day, we have become a big cement manufacturing plant, with modern equipment,

he said.

He said the vision of the owners of the entity urges to remain steadfast and focus towards achieving big.

We refuse to be compared with any plant in the country because our focus is no longer limited to our country. We know if we have to be the best, we have to have our focus in the regional market and compete effectively there and surely Shayona Cement Corporation has become one of best in the region,

said Mvula.

Even with that, the Factory Administration Manager said they are not yet satisfied and they are pushing harder until Shayona becomes the very best of them all.

He, however, acknowledged that the journey has never been easy and they do not expect it to be easier now.

It is a challenging vision but we believe it is achievable,

he said.

Mvula said since early days, even when they had not started producing cement, CSR has always been at the heart of Shayona Management.

Donations to the education sector, the health sector and of course environment form part of the company’s central policy which is about serving the people.

You will all, therefore, discover that Shayona Cement Corporation is not just about business; we are about total human care,

said Mvula.

Meanwhile, the company has confirmed that works on its new 80 metre high state of the art hi-tech rotary plant which was branded as phase two of factory development is almost done and will be commissioned this year.

Currently Shayona produces 300 tonnes of clinker and 650 tonnes of cement which translate to 13 thousand 50kg packets of cement per day, making it the biggest cement producer in the country. But with the completion of the new rotary plant, the output is expected to rise to 400 tonnes of clinker and 1200 tonnes – 24 thousand of 50kg bags per day, making Shayona one of the biggest cement producers in the region.

***

This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 58 (February 2018).

The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.

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