National Business Initiative (NBI)

  • About

    The National Business Initiative (NBI) was established in 1995. It is a voluntary group of leading national and multinational companies working together for sustainable growth and development in South Africa. NBI members are committed to demonstrating responsible business leadership and action in shaping a sustainable future.


    • 110 companies.

    Shared Members with WBCSD

    • (25) ABB, Anglo American, ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton, BMW, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Deloitte, ERM, Eskom, General Motors, Holcim, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, Nestlé Group, Mondi, PricewaterhouseCoopers, SABMiller, Sasol, Shell, Toyota, Vodafone, Volkswagen.

  • Activities

    Building the Business Case

    • Creating platforms for businesses to share and communicate best practices.
    • Works on an Enterprise Development project, which focuses on creating collective platforms for sharing best practices, value chain sustainability and work opportunities for youth.
    • Acts as an advocate on behalf of members on critical matters such as the role of business in society, skills, energy efficiency and environmental policy.

  • Action2020-related Activities

    Climate Change

    • Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). NBI supports the CDP, which measures and tracks the performance of major companies listed on the JSE 100 Index in their gathering and publishing of data, setting targets and putting measures into place to respond to climate change. The project focuses on governance, risk and opportunity identification and emissions management. It has also encouraged greater investor focus on climate change. The 2013 report was launched on 28 November 2013, and South Africa took second place behind the Global Fortune 500 in terms of response rate. NBI has completed an analysis of the last five years of CDP data and will publish an infographic reflecting the progress business has made since the inception of the CDP.
    • Mitigation Support. The World Resources Institute (WRI) has partnered with the NBI to build capacity with NBI members and broader business to reduce GHG emissions. The project includes the sharing of best practices through case studies and supporting companies to improve voluntary reporting and preparing for government-mandated reporting.
    • Energy Efficiency Leadership Network (EELN). The NBI focus on energy efficiency is built around driving both individual and collective and action by companies through the Energy Efficiency Pledge. This requires companies to adopt a coherent, strategic and action-oriented approach in implementing energy efficiency. The EELN has provided capacity building training for network members on energy management, which assists companies in addressing energy efficiency through an energy management and energy systems approach. This prepares them for meeting future government-mandated processes that require companies to produce and report energy management plans in line with the SANS 50001 protocol.
    • The Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) Programme. At the beginning of July 2013, the NBI was awarded ₤8.6 million from the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) to implement a countrywide programme of support to improve energy efficiency in the South African private sector. The project aims to reach: 63 large companies with an energy expenditure of R45 million and above; 1,075 medium-sized companies with an energy expenditure between R750,000 and R45 million; and 2,625 small companies with an energy expenditure below R750 000.
    • The NBI’s Infrastructure Demand and Utilisation work stream focuses on providing thought leadership on key infrastructural issues and providing platforms for business, government and other key stakeholders to engage around relevant issues.
    • Partners with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the South African Cities Network, the Economic Development Department and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency to run the Infrastructure Dialogues.
    • With the support of the Foreign Commonwealth Office, the NBI completed a project to explore barriers to low carbon finance and build awareness and capacity based on this study. The study polled the perceptions of more than 50 finance and project specialists and the results were well received within the finance and project development community. This work has recently received a boost, with the Green Fund of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) awarding the NBI a R2.5 million grant to continue the work on green economy finance.
    • The South African Treasury released a carbon tax discussion paper in 2013, after which the NBI hosted a carbon tax road-show in three major South African cities as well as a carbon offsets workshop in Johannesburg.


    • The Water Disclosure Project. The 2013 Water Disclosure Report was released in April 2014 and included responses from over 30 companies, representing a steady increase in participation since inception in 2011.
    • The NBI is seeking to broaden its scope of work on water in 2014, for example through building the strategic business case for water risk in South Africa and disseminating a discussion paper on water pricing. This information would provide businesses with access to tools and methods for water measurement, as well as the capacity to implement the measures and interpret the results.

    Basic Needs and Rights

    • The NBI is the host of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) Local Network in South Africa. The NBI expanded its work on social sustainability through the UNGC framework and platform. The UNGC 10 Principles, covering human rights, labour protection, environmental protection and anticorruption, identify specific areas that continue to pose significant risk to companies in South Africa.
    • The South African new Companies Act (2008) acknowledges the situation and requires a Social and Ethics Committee of the Board to report on the implementation of a range of development issues that include the 10 UNGC Principles.

    Skills and Employment

    • The NBI’s Pathways to Employability is an organising framework to facilitate meaningful partnerships between employers and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. It aims to 1) Enhance the institutional capacity of TVET colleges to deliver quality programmes that meet the skills demands of both national and local economic demands; 2) Build a sustainable system, in partnership with industry, for students and college lecturers to access structured workplace learning.
    • The Johnson & Johnson Bridge to Employment programme helps young people by introducing them to a broad array of careers in health care and helping them make informed subject choices in grade nine as well as preparing them for further and higher education and training, as well as for the world of work, business and economic activity. This programme will be expanded into other sectors in what is provisionally being called the Skilled Youth Programme.

  • Government Engagement and External Collaboration

    • A fundamental aspect of the NBI’s modus operandi is to act as a “bridging organization” between business and government, building trust by working collaboratively within practical partnerships.
    • Examples of existing relationships with government entities include those with the Departments of Energy, Environment, Water, Finance, Science and Technology, Public Enterprises and the Department of Higher Education and Training. Government relationships also include some provincial departments, such as Eastern Cape, and the Economic Development or Education arms of the provinces.
    • Played a catalytic role in establishing organisations or initiatives such as the Business Trust and Business Against Crime, and high-level programmes such as the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA).
    • The NBI is the focal point of the UNGC Local Network in South Africa.

  • Collaboration with Global Network Partners

    • Malaysia.
    • Mauritius.
    • Zimbabwe.
    • Planned collaboration with Chile in 2014-2015 through the Water Work Cluster of the WBCSD.

Global Network Collaboration


Action2020 Engagement