Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Kenya in a distant 136th place. That low ranking confirms the sentiment often encountered in Nairobi: corruption is widespread in many aspects of life, from bribing a policeman to avoid charges for alleged traffic violations to graft at the highest levels of government, as poignantly described by a British journalist Michela Wrong in her book about Kenyan whistleblower John Githongo, It’s Our Turn to Eat.
Not surprisingly, many segments of the Kenyan society are fed up with the status quo and ready for change. That includes many companies in the private sector that see their growth potential and competitiveness stifled by the highly corrupt environment. Such companies are not waiting for the government to clean up its act and instead are taking the initiative to limit corruption through setting up or strengthening internal compliance procedures.
Long-time CIPE partner Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), KPMG, and the British High Commission recently published four case studies of companies that are committed to integrity and have made significant progress in translating that commitment into daily operations. On the heels of these case studies comes CIPE’s newest publication,Anti-Corruption Compliance: A Guide for Mid-Sized Companies in Emerging Markets.
The guidebook outlines international anti-corruption trends and practical steps that companies can take to implement a robust anti-corruption compliance program. Importantly, it also emphasized that compliance is not just for the leading corporations but can be a valuable asset for smaller companies as well, especially those that already participate in global value chains or aspire to do so.
On August 28, CIPE, KAM, and Global Compact Network Kenya (GCNK) held a local launch event for this guidebook in Nairobi, attended by top business executives. I had the pleasure of presenting the guidebook, stressing that there are important synergies to be found between top-down compliance efforts of multinationals and bottom-up action by local firms.
KAM Chairman Pradeep Paunrana echoed my point: “With the development of stringent anti-corruption laws and increased corporate governance rules around the world, the business community must now arm itself by putting in place and enhancing anti-corruption measures and practices as part of their corporate sustainability strategy.”
I look forward to working with companies in Kenya and other countries to leverage their commitment to fighting corruption and help them position themselves as attractive business partners for global corporations through effective compliance. Through the knowledge sharing and training on best practices that CIPE offers, together we can prove that – with the right tools – fighting corruption is not a losing battle.
Anna Nadgrodkiewicz is Director for Multiregional Programs at CIPE.
Originally posted at CIPE Development Blog