Corporate Social Responsibility has been harrowed upon for a considerable amount of time now and the government has been mulling over mandating a specific part of the budget of a company to be kept aside for CSR. The revised Companies Bill which mandates the CSR spending will be placed in the parliament during the Budget session this year which is around the corner.SoulAce is a company specializing in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility and working with the corporate and social sector. It helps companies to complete the process depending upon the stage of operation and works on conducting field level social need assessment, developing relevant CSR initiatives, joint implementation along with the NGO, 3rd party social impact assessment, sustainability reporting and training.
The Stepping Stone
Founder, Adarsh Kataruka
Coming from a business family, Adarsh Kataruka was always keen on pursuing his own venture; the only difference being that he didn’t want it to get into a traditional business. “The venture had to be socially relevant, which creates overall value”, says Adarsh.
After completing his Bachelors in Economics Hons from Delhi University, Adarsh worked with McKinsey & Co where he stumbled across the basic idea for SoulAce. “I further built on the idea through research of the current practices in India and abroad. During my MBA from MDI, Gurgaon, I also worked with a professor on developing and fine-tuning the idea”, elucidates Adarsh. In this way, the idea which was conceptualized in 2007, started fulltime operations in 2009 after a thorough research.
The team at SoulAce comprises of senior experienced professionals and young individuals coming from various backgrounds. Having a strong team, expansion had to follow.
Apart from CSR for companies, SoulAce extended their services after a year. “We started with CSR for companies but later we were also being approached by NGOs to work with them in professionalising their operations and creating self sustainable social projects for them. Therefore it was a natural progression for us as we already had the expertise in the field. Regarding Healthcare, we were assisting companies in CSR initiatives dealing with healthcare as well. We saw opportunities in this sector, and therefore engaged with experience healthcare professionals to build a strong team for specialised healthcare services”, explains Adarsh.
Having worked with the leading names across categories like GAIL, IndianOil, FICCI, SEWA and Aditya Birla Group, SoulAce have gained enormous competency. There are multiple models involving primary and secondary research comprising of social tools which have been developed in-house and are bench-marked against global standards to form a strategy.
“We do not focus on creating board room CSR strategy but our team works on the field at village level in planning and understanding the ground reality. Different tools and frameworks for field studies are developed which is based on the project thrust areas’, says Adarsh.
SoulAce’s Take on CSR
Increasingly companies have started realizing the importance of CSR from their business perspective and their long-term sustainability and therefore are giving importance to CSR. CSR is being perceived differently by all kinds of companies. Here are the broad viewpoints:
- Some view it as pure philanthropy of giving back to society
- Many multinationals, view it as a PR exercise
- For PSUs it is mandatory and many have started taking it seriously but largely driven by community initiatives
- Some companies are integrating sustainability concepts in the company DNA
We do lot of hand-holding for companies and educate them on why CSR is important and guide them through the process. Our idea is to make the money spent having significant long-term impact, which is relevant and also transparent.
Obstacles along the way
“CSR is still not a department in many companies with decision-making powers, which makes it difficult to progress fast on proposals. As there are representatives from all departments and understanding of CSR and Sustainability is currently low, decision-making takes time from the client side”, says Adarsh. This is an obstacle but as always, clearing an obstacle turns it into an opportunity. With awareness on the rise, the problem will soon start to dilute opening up new vistas for SoulAce.
Entrepreneurs can gain further insight into CSR from this post by Jacob Verghese, an eminent expert in the social sector. More about SoulAce on their website and drop in any questions regarding CSR and SoulAce in the comments section.
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