Remarks by David Renz, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Launching Event, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report for Ethiopia

DCM David Renz delivering remarks at Launching Event

David Renz
Deputy Chief of Mission 
at the Launcing Event of Corporate Social Responsibility Report for Ethiopia
Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa
July 11, 2019

(As prepared for delivery)  

Thank you Scott and Brionne for the introductions and for inviting me to join you all tonight.

Good evening everyone!

Congratulations to the U.S. Africa Business Center and to AmCham Ethiopia for successfully putting together an amazing two-day board of directors meeting here in Addis Ababa, and for providing us with an opportunity to highlight the various ways in which U.S. companies contribute to the communities in which they operate.

And I’d like to acknowledge the great support the many ministers, led by Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide, and other senior Ethiopian government officials have given to the U.S. delegation.  Their engagement is a concrete demonstration that Ethiopia is open for business.

U.S. businesses, indeed businesses the world over, seek out new opportunities.  The companies here with us tonight are here because they recognize the tremendous business opportunity Ethiopia offers.

Ethiopia is driving an historic transformation of its economy into one where the private sector is the engine of growth.  An engine of growth that creates jobs and prosperity for the Ethiopian people, and opportunities for U.S. business, that benefit both our countries.

It’s a transformation that is breathtaking in scope.  It’s fundamental reform of whole business sectors – from telecom to energy to logistics to finance.  It’s fundamental reform of the rules of business – from changes to investment and commercial laws to the introduction of new investment models through public private partnerships.  And it’s fundamental reform of the business climate needed to allow private sector led economic growth to flourish.

American companies are already part of this transformation.  In sectors as diverse as agribusiness, textiles, and heath care, U.S. companies are thriving in Ethiopia.

But what Ethiopia needs now are much greater levels of high-quality private sector engagement.  And Ethiopians are eagerly looking for more U.S. private sector involvement.

We see sharply rising appreciation, among the Ethiopian government and people alike, for what sets U.S. businesses apart: world-class technology; top-quality products; total-cost price advantages; responsible training, labor, and environmental practices; long-term commitments; and respectful win-win partnerships.

U.S. businesses don’t just bring value, but values.   One of the most defining values American businesses carry with them wherever they decide to plant roots is social responsibility – our very focus this evening.

Corporate Social Responsibility is at the core of U.S. companies.  It’s part of what these companies are, not just in countries abroad, but in their home, right in America.

New Belgium Brewing Company, owned entirely by its employees through a stock ownership plan, is focused on sustainability.  Its Fort Collins brewery produces 18% of its own electricity through solar panels and wastewater.  It also contributes to bicycle and eco-focused organizations. Their Director of CSR, Katie Wallace speaks plainly: “We consider social and environmental well-being to be intricately intertwined.”

Wells Fargo, a major U.S. financial institution, donates up to 1.5% of its revenue to charitable causes each year. Wells Fargo raised $286.5 million in 2017 alone for more than 14,500 nonprofits through philanthropy such as food banks and incubators to hasten the speed to market for start-ups.

Target, a large U.S. retail chain, dedicates significant local and environmental support for the communities in which they have stores. Over the past several years, the company’s efforts—from growing sustainable practices to educational grants—have amounted to 5 percent of its profit going to local communities. In the area of education alone, Target has donated more than $875 million since 2010.

These companies and many, many more like them know that truly successful companies are more than just the products or services they sell.  Their success comes from intrinsic values that infuse everything they do, from how they empower their employees to what they give back to their communities – whether local, national, or global.

And that’s as true of American companies in Ethiopia as it is of companies in America.

We’re going to learn about some of these companies tonight, and the amazing value they bring.

So without further ado, I turn the mike over to Rebecca so we can hear about several of the American companies and investors operating in Ethiopia on how they balance purpose and prosperity to create impact in Ethiopia.

Thank you all.