Organisers said over 60 companies from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda submitted their projects before the deadline last January.
A consultant from Africa Practice, Mr Teweli Teweli, said judges from the region and Europe went through submission from the 60 plus companies and shortlisted 17 including Exim Bank Tanzania Limited, Serengeti Breweries Limited, Swissport Tanzania Limited, Vodacom Tanzania Limited, Tigo Tanzania Limited and Kibo Palace Hotel.
"We have had a very encouraging participation this year with the number of companies reflective of the sizes of the economies. Kenya and Tanzania have had the strongest showing because they are the region's biggest economies," said Mr Teweli. He pointed out that judges were looking for sustainable, community involvement and improvements made by the projects to community life and not necessarily how much was invested by companies in such initiative.
Bank M's Head of Corporate Affairs, Mr Ambrose Nshala, and The East African newspaper Brand Manager, Ms Nancy Wambui, said the competition is growing bigger as more companies submit their entries saying their companies will continue supporting the biannual event.
"The sheer number of entries this year shows just how much CRS initiatives have grown in East Africa in the last two years and we are really pleased with the quality and quantity of the submissions," said Mr Nshala. Nation Media Group's Ms Wambui said the award will involve South Sudanese companies next year and possibly Zambia too as the region's media powerhouse seeks to extend its wings to central Africa.
A statement released by Bank M on Monday indicated that 17 companies have been shortlisted in four major categories with Unilever leading the pack with three nominations, Sarova Hotels and Bedi Investments Limited also appearing twice.
Other companies in the four categories of Best Workplace Practice Award, Environmental Excellence Award, Most Sustainable and Responsible Business Practice for Supply Chains Award, Most Sustainable and Scalable Community Investment Award and Award for Innovative Partnerships include British American Tobacco, AAR Uganda, Tullow Uganda and Standard Chartered Bank.
Other shortlisted companies are Kuoni Private Safaris East Africa, Coca Cola Central, East and West Africa Unit. "The second Bank M East Africa CSR awards also included a fifth category, the Elvis Musiba Award for Innovative Partnerships," said Mr Nshala saying Mr Musiba who passed away in 2010 after presiding over the maiden competition as Chairman of judging panel and awards secretariat.