The 2022 Chairman’s Difference Makers Awards, sponsored by SAPRO, recognises SAICA members who are #differencemakers in various areas of business and society – those who have breached the gap between being good and being excellent.
The awards acknowledge members who make decisions that provide sustained prosperity for all and help shape communities, economies and society while applying the highest standards of ethics, integrity and accountability.
The most precious asset all businesses share is the Earth. The efforts individuals and businesses make to sustain this vital resource are not only necessary but also make good business sense. The Sustainability award honours people who make sustainability an integral part of their business. It is someone who is actively involved in sustainability activities and purposefully works towards achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Belinda Carreira CA(SA), chief financial officer and head of sustainability for Emergent Africa is a seasoned businesswoman with a wealth of experience.
After qualifying as a chartered accountant with Deloitte in 1998, Belinda has been fortunate to have travelled extensively and worked in other parts of the world including London.
Her primary focus has always been on value creation, strategy, people and sustainability. Belinda’s stakeholder-centric approach is key to her strategy of building long-term sustainable partnerships which can be successfully employed in servicing clients in all industry sectors.
In addition to her role at Emergent Africa, Belinda founded her employee wellbeing company, WELL, in 2018. Belinda has a passion for health and wellbeing and believes people are the most valuable asset any organisation has. She, therefore, enjoys finding new and innovative wellness solutions for organisations and delivering these with outstanding service excellence. “Without good health, it is impossible to function at our full potential. To me, good health and well-being are vital for effectively achieving all the other SDGs. The objective of this SDG is to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages’. Our physical health and mental well-being determine the quality of life we can live and influences the health and mental wellbeing of those we come into contact with each day,” she states.
Belinda also co-founded #SustainableSA in 2020, a project now sponsored by SAICA. Recognising the fact that action only achieves results when it is informed, measured, reported on and rewarded, #SustainableSA provides regular updates on South Africa’s status on achieving each SDG; education; highlights of key actions needed to be taken; and relevant tips and tools for reporting.
“The project works in collaboration with strategic partners and experts to provide focused monthly information on each SDG,” explains Belinda.
“In South Africa, we have ‘pockets of expertise’ on the SDGs and I wanted to bring these together, to share their wisdom on a consolidated platform, to enable the transformation of decision-making, and to enable more resilient and sustainable business models,” she continues.
Belinda has also set up and established the Sustainability Advisory business at Emergent Africa. “This business is now in its second successful year of operation and continues to grow from strength to strength. I am driven to ensure that all businesses incorporate Sustainability into their Strategies and that Boards and Shareholders receive the feedback and insights they need.”
It is through Belinda’s day-to-day work that she aims to help businesses and communities achieve the UNSDGs and also assist them to address Climate Change and Environmental issues by incorporating them into their overall strategies, developing sound reporting, managing the related risks and opportunities and entering into new green technology business ventures.
Receiving the Sustainability award was an immense honour for Belinda. “It is significant to be recognised by SAICA. Hard work, commitment and dedication to improving the lives of others and helping to ensure we maintain our natural resources while being optimistic and innovative is not always easy. There have been some very challenging times,” she admits. “Building new businesses and projects is one of the hardest things I have had to do. The endless hours of work, late nights and personal sacrifices are something we never talk about. It is incredible to receive acknowledgement for my work. Making a sustainable difference, yielding positive business, social and economic returns mean everything to me.”
She is grateful to Saica and her incredible team at Emergent for helping her turn her dream of building a sustainable world where all people and our planet prosper, into a reality. “I acknowledge where we are and admire the hardships we’ve overcome and I know there’s still so much to achieve. It is only through working together that we will be able to successfully build a sustainable future for everyone. Nations are only built when their people are united and working towards a common goal. Be a part of the change you want to see.”
In the future Belinda would like to help not only South Africa but also other countries in developing low carbon economies by successfully finding, investing in and implementing new innovative green technologies. “I would like to see every household in South Africa have access to reliable 24/7 electricity generated from clean energy sources by playing a part in developing the Renewable Energy sector and ensuring there is a just transition.”