The Suraya’s are giving back to society through their firm’s Foundation – The Suraya Foundation
The business landscape has completely changed and businesses are no longer judged solely on their financial performance indicators such as profit, turnover etc. Globally, entrepreneurs are rated as successful based on a wide range of indicators with the most important being how they connect with communities found in areas in which they operate.
And Suraya Property Group, a Real Estate company incorporated in 2006 by Kenyan entrepreneurs Peter and Sue Muraya, has proven itself to be a good and responsible corporate citizen by making great strides in giving back to society.Under a careful and well thought-out corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, the fast-growing company has managed to implement initiatives aimed at benefiting society both in the short- and long-term.
“It is no longer business as usual. Well-managed organizations have to define their roles in society by applying social and ethical standards to their businesses where profit is not an end to itself. The big question is, what are you doing to put a smile on the faces of the needy in society,” Sue, who is the Group’s Director, told the Metropolitan Property in an interview.
The firm, through the Suraya Property Group Foundation, has initiated projects through which it has supported the provision of water and sanitation facilities to rural schools in Kenya.Even though they are yet to fully put in place the organizational and management infrastructure they envision would drive the Foundation in years to come, and with a full board yet to be constituted to run it, the Surayas have hit the ground running.
Already they have built over 30 toilets in three schools, rehabilitated several classrooms, dug boreholes and paid school fees for several students.Yet, even before the setting up of the Foundation, the couple has been paying school fees for needy children for long now. Courtesy of their generosity, a number of needy students have already graduated from university and close to 20 others are in secondary schools, tertiary institutions and university. “We, as a company, were keen on positively impacting on the lives of not only just our relatives, but also society as a whole’’ she explained. It is a task, they felt, needed a structured way of implementing rather than being carried out in an adhoc manner.
“We had to sit back and ask ourselves, what do we do to have a balanced approach in addressing economic, social and environmental issues in a way that would benefit the wider community?” she explained the birth of the Foundation, which was registered hardly two years ago. And so it was not surprising when, on one visit to her rural marital home, she noticed that the Kaburugi Full Primary School’s 800 pupils had no permanent and clean toilets.
The school was their natural first point of call given that it is here that Peter, Suraya’s Chief Executive Officer had his primary education.“We decided to build 20 permanent toilets complete with urinals in the school,” she explained in a voice rich with joy at giving back to where the seeds of their success in life were first planted. We, as a company, were keen on positively impacting on the lives of not only just our relatives, but also society as a whole.
Peter and Sue join pupils from Mugecha Primary School
They then moved to the neighbouring school, Mugecha Primary School, and did the same by building toilets, besides drilling and equipping a borehole.With the availability of abundant water, the pupils’s hygiene standard has been enhanced and the entrepreneurs have set their eyes on spreading their goodwill to the country’s other counties.“We intend to replicate this across the country and we are already in touch with State agencies such as the Commission of Revenue Allocation to gather data on the neediest rural schools with poor sanitation and see how we can support them,” she said.
With funding support from Suraya Property Group, Sue is confident of making a huge impact in the society as she leverages her immense expertise in construction. “We are exploring ways of involving contractors to tap into our synergies and economies of scale to put up as many toilets and boreholes as possible in deserving schools in the country,” she said.
In a move aimed at ensuring sustainability, Sue, an accomplished Fashion Expert who holds a Bachelor of Arts (Fashion Design) degree, is leveraging on the fashion design industry to supplement the budget for the Foundation’s initiatives. In this regard, she intends to run an annual fashion and design event to be unveiled shortly whose proceeds will go towards funding this noble cause.“Our goal is to scale up the Foundation in the long run to include the establishment of a training facility for fashion and design in order to not only tap talent, but also help the needy in society,” she said.The training facility will incorporate an ornamental wing and artifacts that can be showcased to the market. This will help communities earn income as well as provide a remarkable opportunity to nurture talent.
The Foundation has, however, faced a myriad of challenges in its short period of existence. For instance, no sooner had it put up the toilets in their rural constituency, than rumour mills hit the ground insinuating that she could be eyeing a political seat.“I don’t intend to venture into politics. We just want to assist the needy in society as a way of expressing our gratitude to what society has enabled us to achieve so far,” she said categorically.
With the provision of clean toilets,urinals and water in schools, Sue is confident that they would have made their small contribution in fighting waterborne and bacterial infections that affect learning in rural schools.
The toilet block & borehole constructed by The Suraya Foundation at Mugecha Primary School
“We envision a healthy society across the country because most of the diseases are easily preventable with a simple hygiene. This will no doubt help in improving education standards in the long run,” she concluded.
Some of the chairs and tables donated by The Suraya Foundation at Baba Dogo Sacred – Catholic Church- Primary School.