Roofings Group: A Steel Manufacturer Focusing on the Community and the Environment

Nashila Lalani talks about the importance of CSR for Roofings Group, a steel manufacturer focusing on providing quality steel products to Uganda and East Africa, and discusses the importance of preserving the environment and giving back to the community.

Interview with Nashila Lalani, Executive Director of Roofings Group

Nashila Lalani, Executive Director of Roofings Group

What is your company doing to give back to Uganda in terms of CSR?

At Roofings Group, we strongly belief in the African philosophy of ubuntu, which means “I am because we are”. It is not because of you, or because of me, it is because of us that we can be successful. Apart from always putting the environment within the company and the environment for our staff first, we always look at the environment around us. We look at the community around us, how it is thriving, and how we can improve it. Uganda needs to preserve its environment and the planet.

What do you practically do to preserve the environment?

We are the first company in this industry, the third in Uganda, that came out with a sustainability report. For reforestation, eventually, when you plant 100,000 trees per year, it will give you carbon credits. Our vision is to become a carbon neutral steel manufacturer

We have our Forever Foundations. We want our communities and our environment to last forever. We are thinking not just about now, but the generations to come. We have three main initiatives under the Forever Foundations. The first is Forever Forestry which deals with joining hands in regreening Uganda. We go by the motto, “a seed today, a forest tomorrow”. Then, we have Forever Education which is about putting children first. We strongly believe in our future generations and that we need to strengthen the education of the nation together. The last is Forever Health & Wellness. We are in love with life. We know that in order to be able to actually reach that phase of health and wellness in a third world country, we need to start at the bottom. We try to cover each step until we reach forever health and wellness at the top.

What are some examples of projects you do under these Foundations?

Today, we are working together with the International School next door to our company in a small village outside of the city. They are planting 200 seedlings for fruit trees. We also teach the community how to be self-sustaining. We are also are trying to educate the community on the importance of fruit and vegetables and the ease of sustaining yourself. Especially in the villages, there is a lot of land available and a lot of families have land. For example, Moringa is known as a superfood. It grows in four months, you can put the leaves in porridge, and it provides 2/3 of your daily vitamins.

What do you provide for education?

In education, we started a pilot program six years ago with a school in Namanve through our sister company. We started with 200 pupils and now have over 1,000. We had planned to start on the renovation of the school, but we have now gone deeper into the actual needs of the school such as medical camps, sponsorships, sustainable farming, small business projects, small finance, micromanagements, microfinancing, purified water workshops. It is very broad, but we really try to focus on one school at a time and provide everything from A to Z.

What have you done in health and wellness?

We work together with the Sickle Cell Foundation here in Uganda. Our Chairman is a board member as well. He chairs the organization meetings towards finding a better solution for sickle cell which is very prevalent here in Uganda and East Africa. Together with other partners, we are trying to find a cure as well as ways of making the lives of those that are infected more bearable.

Are you connected with other organizations or associations?

At Roofings Group, we prioritize working with other institutions. Our plan in 2020 is to work closely with Stanbic Bank. We are focusing on planting 15,000 trees in the first quarter of the year together with schools. We are also looking to find other key partners in the industrial area where Roofings Rolling Mills is. We want to build a stronger fund to solve issues here together.

What challenges do you face in that?

There are not a lot of challenges; rather, there are a lot of opportunities. There are so many opportunities in CSR that it does become a challenge of where to start. We need more people, more organizations, more individuals to strengthen our Foundations so that we can aim at the bigger issues.

Project yourself two to three years’ time. How do you see the Foundations? What do you want to achieve?

Through our Forever Foundations, we want to continue to achieve ubuntu, joining hands in strengthening this nation together, fighting deforestation, finding better primary needs to reach where we want to be, putting children first and making sure that each child has access to education. As Nelson Mandela once said, education is the best weapon to fight poverty. If you want to do a lot of good and you have big plans, you will never reach a point where it is good enough. There is always so much more to do. Our CSR starts within the company. We have spent millions of dollars on being environmentally friendly and we are ISO certified. We are the first company in this industry, the third in Uganda, that came out with a sustainability report. For reforestation, eventually, when you plant 100,000 trees per year, it will give you carbon credits. Our vision is to become a carbon neutral steel manufacturer.


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