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Guterres names Safaricom sustainability head as UN Global Compact boss

Sanda Ojiambo
Ms Sanda Ojiambo. PHOTO | COURTESY 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Friday named a Kenyan as the new Chief Executive of the United Nations Global Compact.

Sanda Ojiambo has been the head of sustainable business and social impact at Safaricom #ticker:SCOM, Kenya’s most profitable company.

She joined Safaricom, now ranked as the tenth most valuable firm in Africa, in 2008 after an 11-year stint working for non-government organisations as well as with the UN.

Should her appointment be confirmed, she will not only be making a comeback to the global agency but also become the second Kenyan – and the first Kenyan woman – to held a UN global agency.

Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, was the first Kenyan to head a global UN agency. He has been at the helm of UNCTAD since 2013.

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At Safaricom, Ms Ojiambo was the head of the Sustainable Business and Social Impact Department which coordinates the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with Safaricom’s mission.

The department is also responsible for the company’s sustainability reporting, technology for development products as well as the Safaricom and M-Pesa Foundations, the philanthropic arms of the conglomerate.

Safaricom was the first Kenyan company to report on its sustainability. The second was KCB.

Her work on sustainability at Safaricom – as well as its size as a corporate – likely influenced the UN to tap her for the global position.

Should she be confirmed tonight, she will succeed Lise Kingo, the current CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative. Mr Guterres is the chair of the agency. Ms Bola Adelsola, a Nigerian, is the Vice-Chair.

Ms Kingo has been the head of the agency since 2005. She was tapped for the position for spearheading the integration of sustainability into the heart of the Novo Nordisk A/S business. Novo Nordisk A/S is a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company.

The UN Global Compact has over 13,500 signatories in 170 countries around the world.

By committing to sustainability, business that sign up with the UN pledge to do their business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with human rights, labour relations, environmental protection and anti-corruption practices.

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