Ethical business, a goal traders and manufacturers should promote

Shops in the Nairobi CBD.

Photo credit: File Photo | Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

Recently, millers from all over Kenya gathered in Nairobi to launch the micronutrient index for the sector. During the ceremony, millers who exhibited best practices with regard to fortifying their products with micronutrients were feted.

In ordinary circumstances, consumers of manufactured and processed foodstuffs lack ways of finding out such details as the levels of micronutrients in, say, wheat or maize flour. That being the case, millers of these cereals can choose to take the unscrupulous route to shore up their profit margins.

However, our millers have quite admirably chosen to uphold internationally acceptable fortification standards for the greater good of the consumers of their products. This ethical showing is laudable. It confirms that entrepreneurship and virtue can indeed co-exist and become mutually reinforcing in matters of business.

In a business environment overtaken by self-absorption and a hard-nosed proclivity for profiteering among traders and manufacturers, hints of altruism are worth celebrating and promoting. This is especially so given that consumers of manufactured food products such as flour are short on means of ascertaining that what they eat promotes good health.

I, therefore, consider it a remarkable act of ethical consciousness and duty to humanity that all traders and manufacturers should uphold, particularly for products that have a direct bearing on human wellness.

In the case of staple foods, ignoring micronutrient fortification in Kenya would amount to denying a whopping 38 million individuals access to proper nutrition.

In the past, we have paid general heed to carbohydrates, proteins and fats but hardly the essential role micronutrients play in nurturing human health.

Away from food manufacturing and micronutrient fortification, today’s business world in general can borrow a leaf from the dutifulness exhibited by our millers and take the ethical path. Thankfully, today’s business landscape is shifting in favour of promoting ethical practice even as profit-making remains a key motivation.

The evolving ethical sentiment is, admittedly pushing businesses to integrate principles that foster responsible capitalism.

Modern-day consumers have easy access to information and, therefore, are more empowered to demand quality products. This makes ethical manufacturing necessary to attract and retain customers. Besides, an ethical culture in the industry does earn manufacturers laurels that yield a good reputation.

In the unfolding future, ethical business practices will no longer be viewed as a luxury. Rather, they will be a necessity. By prioritising ethical values, businesses can build stronger customer relationships, attract top talent and foster a more sustainable future.

This new era of responsible capitalism is not just about profit. It is more about creating a better world for all.

Rebecca Miano is Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry in Kenya.

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