Capricorn Group supported the 20th annual Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa) Conference, held over the weekend of 4 and 5 November 2021 in Swakopmund. The BEN-Africa's stated mission is to strengthen the commitment and competence of Africans to do business with moral integrity. Her Worship, the Mayor of Swakopmund, Ms Louisa Kativa, opened and supported the conference, attended by both national and international delegates.
Capricorn Group sponsored the breakfast event that took place on Friday 05 November 2021. At the breakfast, Fishrot whistleblower, Mr Johannes Stefansson, received the Order of the Baobab award, and Naiole Cohen dos Santos (Co-founder of the Angolan Corporate Governance Association) received the Quiver award. In addition, later in the day, Alexis Habiyaremye received the Aloe Award for the Best Conference Paper. His paper was titled: “Racial capitalism, ruling elite business entanglement and the impasse of black economic empowerment policy in South Africa."
In her keynote address, Ms Azelle Verwey, Capricorn Group Head: Legal, Compliance & AML, said, “Capricorn Group, a leading financial services group operating in Namibia and Botswana, is particularly proud that we could be the sponsor of The Baobab Award Breakfast and the conference bags. At Capricorn Group, our purpose is to be Connectors of Positive Change. Therefore, we are delighted to be a link in the chain that enables this event and its subsequent impact."
Verwey further indicated that the pervasiveness of corruption in the operating context remains high, and the need for an ethical response and culture is acute. It demands government, business, and society leadership to improve transparency, governance, and general awareness of ethical practices and behaviour. She suggested that collaboration is significant, as much must still be done to achieve the mission to strengthen the commitment and competence of Africans to do business with moral integrity.
A concern that emerged at the conference was the lack of support and safe infrastructure for whistleblowers in the African context. Although most people know when to blow the whistle, a lack of support and infrastructure to safeguard them hinders them from doing so. Concerning national whistleblowing, the question, “To whom do you blow the whistle, and how are you then protected and supported," arose. Currently, whistleblowers are advised to leave the country in fear of threats. Furthermore, they must support themselves at their own costs since no protection from any government or organisation is made available. Mrs Verwey pointed out that she is moved by this situation and further elaborated that Capricorn Group has ensured a whistleblowing platform in the regions where it operates.
Capricorn Group representative, Mr Horst Simon, Business Risk Officer, elaborated that some constructive outcomes included the perspective that positive ethical behaviour is much more than ethical. It focuses on the reasoning that individuals must ask themselves how they are a part of the problem and in what ways they are part of the solution. Therefore, instead of strengthening the tendency to catch transgressors, we should acknowledge those doing right and reward them. In this way, ethical behaviour is promoted.
The conference is an international platform for stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, non-profit organisations, and academia, who came together and reflected on, discussed, and responded to the opportunities and challenges of conducting inclusive and principled business in Africa. This year the conference was titled: Inclusive and Principled Business: Ethical Values; African Stakeholders.