How Standard Chartered is driving impact where it matters the most in India
Puja Padul, the daughter of agricultural labourers from a village in Solapur, Maharashtra, was pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree. However, she suffered a traumatic head injury in a road accident and developed diplopia (double vision) and a squint in both eyes, which cast a cloud on her future. Elsewhere in the state, in Nandgaon village in Raigarh district, Wanita and her two daughters walked long distances just to relieve themselves, because they couldn't afford to construct a toilet.
The stories of Puja and Wanita are the stark reality of millions in India who continue to battle challenges in accessibility and affordability of basic services in healthcare, sanitation and education. Making a positive difference to the lives of people like Puja and Wanita is Standard Chartered, through its CSR initiatives. It helped Puja get access to eyecare services to restore her vision, and Wanita to build toilets just outside her house.
Aligning with its philosophy of ‘Here for good’, over the years Standard Chartered in India has put in place community investment that focuses on health, water and sanitation, education, employability and entrepreneurship.
Seeing is Believing by Standard Chartered programme, which makes eye-care accessible to low and middle income communities, has benefited millions of people. It is now working towards declaring 3000 villages blindness-free and opening 200 vision centres over the next two years, which is expected to benefit 6.8 million people. Yet another equally powerful initiative has been its Water Sanitation Hygiene Education (WASHE) programme, under which it has installed water ATMs to enable easy accessibility. It has also implemented water resource management projects in drought-prone areas to enable local communities to devise water planning, assessment and conversation strategies. Over the next three years, the bank is looking to support 75 villages, half of which will be in water-stressed districts in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Under the WASHE programme, it has enabled construction of proper infrastructure such as toilets and installed sanitary pad dispensers and created awareness about topics such as menstrual hygiene in schools and communities.
Futuremaker’s by Standard Chartered programme is helping provide education and life skills to thousands of adolescent girls. With a focus on building capacity in the eye health sector, it is creating a workforce of high-quality eye care professionals. Standard Chartered is also looking to set up 10 career academies across India to help them gain skills in the BFSI sector.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all sections of society, but it has been tougher for the socio-economic disadvantaged. Being a bank that has always believed in doing good beyond just banking, Standard Chartered undertook a three-pronged approach of providing meals and rations, restoring livelihood opportunities and creating linkages to market and financial institutions and also supporting the research and development efforts to battle the pandemic. In fact, it was the first corporate to support IIT Kanpur for the research and development of an indigenised, affordable, invasive ventilator prototype, which is now available commercially. It also provided protective gear for health personnel and health workers at the frontline of the pandemic supported the setting up of ICU beds along with ventilators, and donated Rs 15 crore towards battling the COVID 19 pandemic in the country. These efforts positively impacted over 1.3 million people.
To briefly sum up, driven by its vision to be the world’s most sustainable and responsible bank, Standard Chartered, through its well-designed CSR initiatives and support to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, has shown the potential and impact of its commitment to being ‘Here for good’.