Power of collaboration in CSR

Shaina Ganapathy, Head of Community Outreach, Embassy Group, says corporates should align with government and grassroots organisations to see deeper impact of their CSR activities.
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With today’s world increasingly interconnected, businesses have the capacity to play a vital role in transforming people’s social, cultural and economic lives, while working in partnership with the Government and NGOs. Creating a more inclusive economy and reducing large-scale poverty in a country such as India can be undertaken hand-in-hand with a company’s profit-generating approach.

A total of 193 countries, including India, have adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which operates as a future global development framework to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity with collaborative action by government, businesses and civil society. Achieving this is a colossal undertaking.

To reach SDG number four - ‘Quality Education’, by 2030 for example is a challenge. At a national level, educational inequality gaps between public and private are wide and growing, with lower outcomes for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Government schools not only service the most deprived communities, they are notoriously underfunded. India’s total financial requirement far exceeds the government’s budget.

By working together to achieve progress on large issues such as this, companies can help the government and citizens through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, reaching the scale and impact required to lift millions of Indians and people around the world out of poverty. Different companies bring different sets of expertise to the table – when our resources are combined, we can achieve much more than can be done alone.

As companies have recognised that promoting social change is beyond the scope of a single organisation, identifying common mandates for collaboration is the key to ensure effective implementation of CSR initiatives.

The benefits are numerous, the primary being, of course, the extension of reach and impact. Further, there is a lesser chance of wasting resources with companies bringing greater efficiency to the table and learning from each other’s mistakes.

Businesses focus on those initiatives that give better social returns on their investments. There is greater encouragement of innovation, the creation and bedding down of successful and replicable models and finally, harnessing the various strengths and skillsets that each company boasts.

Our holistic health and hygiene programme for government schools saw an enormous increase in the radius of impact under our Corporate Connect umbrella – providing an example of the power of collaboration. Since 2016, we have been championing preventive health awareness in government schools.

With our corporate partner in health, we provided free health check-ups, and have maintained records for more than 4,000 students in 14 adopted government schools. It was soon discovered that, with attendance levels in schools dropping and recurring conditions being noted each year, there was a general lack of understanding of preventative measures to combat common health programs.

To combat this, a seven-step holistic health and hygiene programme was established that provides the full gamut of support - from preventive health awareness to daily maintenance and clean drinking water to timely detection.

Adding more corporate partners to the health consortium, and utilising a proven model while leveraging the strengths of the individual organisations brings about a community of corporates aiming towards improved and enhanced social change, and thereby leading to its successful implementation.

Corporates working in isolation of Government departments and agencies, however, prove to be less effective. We have found that alignment with the government maximises value for underprivileged communities and the environment, avoiding a duplication of efforts. In many cases, the government also has existing networks, infrastructure, and has carried out needs based assessments on the ground. Utilising their expertise ensures greater efficiency.

While executing CSR campaigns, companies invest a great deal of time in identifying and selecting beneficiaries – supporting government programmes, which are often more credible, saves precious time and effort.

While CSR continues to rise, one thing becomes clear – collaboration is needed if positive social change on a national scale is ever to be realised. Closing the gaps between the machineries of corporates, as well as with the government, usually results in a win-win situation.

Corporates are able to create greater value for those they aim to impact, while contributing innovative solutions and skilled manpower to existing government schemes and programmes. An opportunity is being presented to companies around India to work together, look at the bigger picture and learn from one another, all while creating a lasting social and developmental impact.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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