Integrated Reporting in Mauritius: A conversation with our IR Training Partner
Beat Grüninger, BSD's managing partner in Brazil spoke with Ali Jamaloodeen, CEO of Anglo African Enterprises, our IR training partner in Mauritius, to learn more about the uptake and benefits of Integrated Reporting in that country.
BSD: Ali, in March, your company Anglo African won the prestigious PwC-Corporate Reporting awards in Mauritius, for the 4th time in a row [non-listed category], and your subsidiary NanoBNK [A FinTech Company], has been nominated for its 1st Integrated Report in 2 categories, including the Star category: Sustainability. How do you explain such a success?
Ali: The recent months have been rich in terms of nominations and awards, from PWC in Mauritius to Global Institutions like the ICAEW, Deloitte and the very prestigious London Stock Exchange’s “Company to Inspire Africa 2019”. Obviously, these are great achievements for us, given that we are a small company in a small country… but most importantly we aspire to make global impacts. All of these would not have been possible had we not embarked on the Integrated Reporting journey 4 years ago. By using the IIRC framework, we derived the most important benefit: Integrated Thinking, and through which we have started to conceive new resilient business models and use technology in a unique way that considered value creation on all capitals and in alignment with UN SDG Goals, for all stakeholders. NanoBNK and our newly developed Enterprise Command and Control [EC3, our Smart City Platform] are just 2 examples of the application of the framework. The Integrated Report is just the output of the transformation started 4 years ago, and all the nominations and awards are the recognition of the effort of our people.
BSD: Integrated and Sustainability reporting had a significant uptake in Mauritius and made the country – alongside with South Africa – one of the most inspired places in the African continent. What are the reasons behind this interesting development in island state?
Ali: There are many reasons to explain this, let me share with you some which I believe have shaped the reporting landscape in Mauritius. PWC started as early as 1998 the Corporate Reporting Award, called the Best Published Accounts at the time, to encourage companies to improve the presentation and contents of their annual report. In 2011, Prof Mervyn King came to Mauritius as the guest speaker of PWC Corporate Reporting Awards, and he actively promoted transparency in corporate reporting, and in 2014 the annual reports started to be assessed using the IIRC framework by PWC. One year later, Anglo African published its first Integrated Report which we firmly believe was the right thing, and at the same time had paved the way for others to embrace this journey. I recall going into clients meetings with Cx level people, and our team explaining the benefits of <IR>, and in 2017 Anglo African in cooperation with Beat Grüninger, Partner of BSD Consulting, an <IR> Foundation Training Partner, dispensed the first approved IIRC training sessions on the <IR> Framework to key participants across industries, which definitely accelerated companies to embrace the <IR> framework.
Sustainability Reporting while initially of interest only to companies in tourism/hospitality industry is now starting to gain traction across industries in Mauritius. I read that Mauritius is considered to be the 7th most exposed country to natural disasters out of 171 countries, and I think people are now starting seriously to realise the importance of doing business towards a sustainable world, especially after Mauritius faced and continue to face drastic weather conditions. I see today more and more awareness around UN SDGs being made, which is a good thing, as this is the basis on which people will start constructing.
BSD: Your company inspired peers in the region to follow the path of integrated reporting and you provided – together with BSD – technical support to other companies in the country: Do you think you will be able to expand this movement in other countries where your company is acting? How is the landscape in reporting in these countries?
Ali: We wanted first to start awareness in Mauritius and since 2015, we have been actively promoting <IR> in various ways, including through both public and private local sessions together with BSD to stakeholders. Anglo African has offices in Zambia, Djibouti and India and clients across Africa. While the reporting landscape is not yet mature as in Mauritius for most of these countries, the opportunities there are massive, and I believe that we should start with awareness, for people to understand the benefits of value creation and sustainable business development.
BSD: What do you see as primary benefits of having chosen Integrated Reporting as you reporting tool: Did you see changes in your business model and in decisions that have been taken based in this new approach of strategic thinking?
Ali: As I have mentioned, the most obvious benefit to us was and still remain Integrated Thinking, which has been instrumental to re-model our thinking process and our business models, which by the way has become more resilient, and has transformed our focus from Short-Term Profitability to Long-Term Value creation, for all stakeholders. For instance, our FinTech company NanoBNK was conceived and now operates in consideration of value creation on the capitals of the IIRC framework, and also aligns with UN SDG Goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 & 17. NanoBNK co-creates projects with stakeholders, and uses technology to bridge the gap between the banks and unbanked population. Our platform is already live in Cameroon and now being deployed in the remaining 9 signed African countries, and well on its way to tackle the Financial Inclusion challenges in Africa. We are now entering into our next phase, Funds Raising to allow us to scale to 25+ countries, and again Integrated Thinking remain a guiding tool!
BSD: Finally, what do you recommend to companies that are starting their journey towards Integrated Reporting based on your own experience at Anglo African?
Ali: It is a journey, while at first, it is time consuming and companies may not get it right, it is important to embrace this initiative and persevere, as the benefits are massive. We have people out there who can assist on this journey, make sure that companies understand the basics first and gradually put them in practice within their team, so that at the end of the day, Integrated Thinking is instilled in them.
Ali Jamaloodeen is the CEO of Anglo African Enterprises. Anglo African recently won the Non-Listed category 4 times in a row, at the PwC Corporate Reporting Awards 2019. NanoBNK, their Fintech subsidiary was nominated for their first Integrated Report, and alongside LUX in a new category: Sustainability.