Bidco Africa Code of Ethics, example of community conscious businesses

By David Indeje / June 19, 2017


For a very longtime, corruption remains endemic to Kenya’s public sector. Transparency International’s corruption index placed the country 145th out of 176 countries with a score of 26.

Kenya dropped 6 places in the index from 139 in 2015 to 145 in 2016 with 26 points behind Rwanda (54) and Tanzania (32) in the East Africa Community.

The media and civil society have, for at least a decade, freely exposed corruption scandals; however, this exposure has not ended corruption and its attendant impunity. The laws and institutions to combat corruption are in place and yet the situation does not improve.

On the other hand, little was heard about corruption in the private sector.
TI says corruption in the private sector takes many forms, among them bribery, undue influence, fraud, money laundering and collusion.

“Private sector corruption contributes to environmental damage, health and safety problems, economic instability and human rights violations by diverting scarce resources, both financial and human.”

EY ‘Human instinct or Machine logic’ survey conducted between November 2016 and January 2017 found that while the majority of respondents are in favour of increased regulation, a significant proportion of those surveyed continue to justify unethical behaviour to help a business survive or to improve their own remuneration.  

For instance, in Kenya, 79 percent of those surveyed said they perceive corruption to be well present in businesses with 76 percent of them saying prosecution of those found in fraud would curb the vice.

“Kenyans seem to have faith in regulatory activity seeing that 68 percent of respondents saying it has positive impact on companies. Nigerians and Jordanians follow respectively at 82 and 75 percent,” EY East Africa Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services leader Dennis Muchiri said.

“In Kenyan at 51 percent, fear for personal safety and concerns about the future career progression within a company were reported as the leading hindrances to reporting an incident of fraud, bribery and corruption. The same views are observed across the continent.”

All’s not lost.

To inculcate a culture of governance and transparency amongst the private sector, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Global Compact Network Kenya, and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) developed the “Code of Ethics for Business in Kenya” an initiative by the UN Global Compact.
According to the UN Global Compact, “Corporate sustainability starts with a company’s value system and a principled approach to doing business.”

Further, President Uhuru Kenyatta has assented to the Bribery Bill 2016  in December 2016.

The principal objective of the Bribery Act 2016 is to criminalise bribery in the private sector. It provides for specific requirements that private entities must have in place to prevent bribery.

The Act also creates legal obligation for every person who becomes aware of an act of bribery to report the matter to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

The Act provides for penalties of up to Sh5 million for anyone found giving or receiving bribes or be jailed for ten years.

A key element of the Act calls for, “A public or private entity shall put in place Duty to have in place procedures procedures appropriate to its size and the scale and to the for the prevention nature of its operation, for the prevention of bribery and of bribery. corruption.”

Notable companies that have signed to the code of ethics include: Safaricom, East African Breweries Ltd., Bidco Africa, Athi River Mining and the Serena Hotels.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Chairman Nick Nesbit (left) and Bidco Africa Chairman Vimal Shah,
after they launched the edible oils and fats manufacturer’s Code of Ethics for business in May.

Bidco Africa is setting a standard for excellence. In may, it became the first company to launch its Code of Ethics which is aimed at tackling corruption in the value chain. Currently, its 1,700 employees and 500 suppliers have to read the document, sign and live by it.

“Every Bidco family member has a responsibility to lead by example and ensure that this Code of Ethics is followed and any violation will not be tolerated,” reads the preamble of the code of ethics signed by its three founders – Bhimji Depar Shah, Tarun Shah and Vimal Shah.

“This Code of Ethics is our guide to dealing with each other including our stakeholders and our commitment that we shall live according to our ethos, principles and values. Adherence to this Code of Ethics will make our Bidco family stronger and our business a better employer and a socially responsible corporate,” it adds.

With its implementation, Bidco Africa aims to advance 7 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The seven include:

  • SDG 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  • SDG 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • SDG 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  • SDG 4 Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
  • SDG 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  • SDG 6 Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.
  • SDG 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

During the launch, Bidco’s Chairman, Vimal Shah, said, “We are gathered here today because as the Bidco Family we know who we are, we are clear about your values, we are clear about our character as individuals and an organization. We are just putting it in black and white.” He added that Bidco was proud to add its voice to the fight against corruption.

“Let us be honest-corruption is alive. And not just in the public sector. It is the narrative of our time, we have become used to a culture of scandal and sensational headlines. The private sector is taking a stand, we are saying NO to corruption and NO to all that. “

About David Indeje

David Indeje is a writer and editor, with interests on how technology is changing journalism, government, Health, and Gender Development stories are his passion. Follow on Twitter @David_Indeje David can be reached on: (020) 528 0222 / Email: [email protected]

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