Importance of Professionals in Corporate Social Responsibility – Fiinovation

The advent of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in India opened new avenues for employment for people belonging to the social development sector. The mandate under the Companies Act, 2013 made it a more focused area for the businesses which might look at CSR in a strategic manner. Hence, the effectiveness of CSR initiatives lies in the hands of CSR professionals who are well versed about the concept and can utilize the initiatives for benefiting the organization.

It has been observed that in most of the businesses, there is still no CSR department, rather it’s the Human Resource department or the senior management which takes care of such initiatives, that too because of mandatory compliance. When called to enquire regarding the CSR department, most of the times the calls are answered by the HR and not by the CSR committee members. This brings us to the question that, are the businesses really serious about giving back to the society or considers CSR as a tick-box exercise?

The presence of CSR professionals in the organization is definitely an indicator of the seriousness of the initiatives. There are several benefits attached to having a CSR professional within the organization. Not only it provides chances to improve the social return on investment, but also improves the communication of CSR initiatives to the stakeholders. As a brand, businesses look to increase their consumer base and market outreach. CSR definitely provides an opportunity to boost the brand value, and the CSR professionals do play a significant role in devising implementation strategies.

Globally, leading CSR professionals have moved one step ahead and are looking not just to initiate ‘give back’ projects, rather incorporate the concept of being a responsible organization across the value chain. They help the corporate communications department to put a number on the value that has been created through the CSR initiatives. It is always recommended to not to give the job of handling the CSR manager position to someone in the HR or any other department, so that there can be a complete analysis on the social return on investment.

With increasing competition among the businesses, CSR could be an innovative mechanism to differentiate a brand from its competitors. The increase in effectiveness of the CSR programmes due to the presence of CSR professionals is definitely a motivating factor for the socially responsible investors. It is also due to the increasing demand of CSR professionals in the businesses and business foundations that several b-schools have started offering degrees in CSR. It is expected that in the years to come, the businesses which doesn’t have CSR professionals will look to recruit them to optimize their social return on investments. Hence, for a CSR professional the future seems to be bright in terms of employment opportunities, but their definitely will be more pressure on them with greater responsibility towards the organization and society at large.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

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CSR Contributions – Is it a Burden for the Companies?

Despite global turmoil, India continues to emerge as one of the fastest growing investment destination in the world. The Indian government’s efforts towards ‘policy reforms’ and ‘ease of doing business’ are major steps directed to meet the demands of its citizens. Socio-economic growth of the nation is directly linked to profitability of businesses. Without growth, the domestic consumption is not likely to increase. This is one major reason for the businesses to invest their share of profits in activities that are aimed to benefit the marginalised sections of the society.

Although, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is mandatory in India for businesses falling under the CSR ambit, yet the attitude of the Indian companies have not changed much. Businesses are mostly interested in earning profits even after realising that businesses can sustain only if communities prosper. Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company suggests that companies who are mandated to contribute towards CSR are merely focusing on compliance, rather than impact of the initiative.

In such a situation, when there is not much visible impact, the companies tend to believe that funds have gone wasted. Hence, CSR becomes a burden for them.

It is understandable that while the CSR spending went up from Rs 8,330 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 9,882 crore in 2015-16, the utilization of funds and overall social outcomes have not been quantified or reported. As per experts, it is important for businesses to understand and measure the impact and return on investment of CSR initiatives. Research has also suggested that the rise in contributions by the larger businesses is related to partnership with implementation agencies, mainly CSOs for execution of the CSR programmes. It is noteworthy for the companies facing challenges in CSR to understand that partnership with CSOs help boost compliance of the law.

Effectiveness of the CSR programmes can also be determined through monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment studies. The companies must understand the purpose of CSR and actively engage in its implementation. It is not a matter of compliance, rather it’s about their survival. Companies should be looking to leverage the initiatives to build their brand image. Through CSR, the government is also trying to push the rural development agenda to spur economic growth. As per the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the CSR process which is perceived as burden by the businesses in India can help double the income of farmers. Hence, in this collective effort to eradicate poverty and boost socio-economic growth, businesses should play a pro-active role through collaborations with the civil society organisations.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Sustainable Development and Natural Resources – Fiinovation

Over the last three decades we have seen the world’s population rise up to 7 billion putting lot of pressure on the earth’s natural resources. Political stability and good international relations have lead to higher growth but at the cost of destruction of natural resources that are useful to man in technological, economical and social circumstances. There has been unplanned destruction to meet the consumption needs of billions of people. As the developing countries try to match up to the levels of developed economies it has become essential to look into conservation methods for long term economic benefits.

The thought of sustainable development came into the foray as development methods of the past generations came under severe scrutiny. Fiinovation understands that there is a conflict of thoughts where on one hand there is a view that fundamental change needs to take place and there should be shift from what should be extracted and what should not be extracted from nature based on materialistic demands. This will actually connect the humans to the ecosystem. On the other hand their is a moderate view that development in the present context means keeping a check on the destruction of environment due to human activities, so that the basis of modern development is not destroyed.

In recent times we have discussed this over and over again and came to the conclusion that the moderate view seems to be more appropriate method to go about. But that raises a question, Do the developing countries need to do more than what the developed countries did when they were developing?

The answer to that is yes the developing economies will be the next super power because of what decisions they take now. They should be cautious that in this development race there won’t be any shortcuts, and the one who’s development agenda is based on sustainable lines will rule the world in the coming years. In the future years, we will see the present day developed countries becoming more and more dependant on the developing countries as their natural resource reserves will all be consumed. The developing countries thus now have to become more strict about the environment strategies as well as international relations. Sustainable development will only happen with mutual cooperation of all the stakeholders. The behavioral patterns of consumption of non-renewable resources should be reconsidered as soon as possible. Fiinovation advises that sustainable development can only happen if all the nations together impose the policy of reasonable consumption of natural resources and the permanent regeneration of natural resource reserves.

Rahul Choudhury

Fiinovation

Do the developing countries need to do more than what the developed countries did when they were developing?

Do the developing countries need to do more than what the developed countries did when they were developing?

International Day of Forests – Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

International Day of Forests, observed for the first time on March 21, 2013. It was decided under a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 28, 2012. To be held each year on the 21st day of March, the occasion is intended to be one of the world’s leading global platforms for people with an interest in forests and climate change to share their views and work together to ensure forests are suitably incorporated into any future climate change mitigation and adaption strategies.

Forests have been an integral part of human civilization since time eternal. They are a shroud of sustainability and protection for our planet. It is very deeply tumultuous to witness the apathy of the human kind towards such a vast resource which supports life on earth. It is strange since the Earth doesn’t need us to sustain, we need its resources to be alive. The thin blue line, called the atmosphere, a few meters thick, is what sets “The Earth” apart as a unique planet compared to rest of its family in the solar system.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities(UN.org).They play a key role in our battle in adapting to and mitigating climate change. Forests contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air. They protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, we are destroying the very forests we need to survive. Global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change(UN.org).

Each year more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost. This is roughly the area covered by England. When forests vanish, so will go the plant and animal species that they embrace, which is 80% of all terrestrial biodiversity. They play a critical role in fighting climate change, global warming. Deforestation results in increase of 12-18 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, almost equal to all the CO2 from the global transport sector. Healthy forests are one of the world’s primary ‘carbon sinks’. Today, forests cover more than 30% of the world’s land and contain more than 60,000 tree species, many of them are yet to be unidentified. They provide food, fiber, water and medicines for approximately 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest people, including indigenous peoples with unique cultures

But its seems that man has lost connect with nature. For majority, livelihoods does not depend on forests and rivers anymore. But for those, it does, like the forest communities have been facing the challenges of displacement, man animal conflict and loss of livelihood in last few decades.

Experts are yet to reach consensus on the continued poverty of the natural resource users. However, it appears that the social systems from which they arise are quiet spontaneous, and justify the socialist view of environmental problems reflecting ‘unequal distribution of resources’ eluding a lasting solution. The Forest Rights Act, 2006 (commonly referred to as the FRA) is an important platform for improving the livelihoods of the Forest dependent people(FDPs), by decreasing their vulnerability through secure land rights(mainstreamweekly.net).

Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. understands that despite the FRA, livelihoods of the people living in the forests have not improved. Should we believe that the time has come for them to leave the forest environment altogether? Surmise and surrender to the whims of the states and population pressures to allow the never-ending displacements, loss of livelihoods, cultural extinction, disintegration of their society, and become victims of all kinds of atrocities, for the development of others (non-tribal’s) in the name of industrialization and development? The approach that Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. suggests to be adopted includes redefining the idea of development and have a sustainable course of action for future which is inclusive in nature rather than exclusive. All stakeholders including those who live thousand of kilometers away from forests should be a part of this.

Ultimately its the children on who hold the key to understand the preserve our Biodiversity because we don’t inherit this planet from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.

By : Joyita Bhattacharya Pathak

Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd

"The Earth"

“The Earth”

Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. – Strategizing CSR- Creating Shared Value

The winners of the blog contest Strategizing CSR – Creating Shared Value

 # Suhail Haque, Senior Programme Manager – Livelihood

Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. – Strategizing CSR- Creating Shared Value

Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. believes that in many situations, strategy is synonymous with ‘important’. If you want something to be taken seriously, label it ‘strategic’. Having an action plan is all well and good, but a ‘strategic’ plan really has an impact! Actually, strategy is importance in practice.

How does a new idea or practice become strategic?  How do actors make this happen?  What are the consequences of this process? And what does the term ‘Creating Shared Value” mean?

It is a strategy for developing the future market while also strengthening economies, the market place, communities and the company coffers. CSV is a powerful concept that can prompt companies to think differently about their approach to social and environmental issues.

Although even cursory observations suggest that labelling a new idea or practice ‘strategic’ can provide it with legitimacy and thus facilitate its acceptance within an organization. Most agree that enterprises should protect and enhance the rights and interests of employees, consumers, creditors, communities, environment, government, and other stakeholders except shareholders as much as possible as they pursue and create profits for shareholders. From a view of strategic management, it is understood that stakeholders are individuals or groups that can affect or be affected by the implementation of corporate strategic aims. According to Marsden (1996), it is easier for enterprises with social responsibility to recruit new employees who sustain their loyalty to enterprises. CSR can benefit both the enterprise and the stakeholders and the society in the same way. As CSR can generate real interests for enterprises, especially the support for the main business, it can help to improve enterprises’ effects, what is helpful to improve corporate social responsibility (policy, progress) to a strategic level. CSR is the society’s hope for enterprises fulfilling their obligations. The society hopes enterprises should not only realize their missions in economy but also obey laws, follow ethics, and benefit public interests. Therefore, the complete CSR includes enterprises’ economic responsibility, legal responsibility, ethical responsibility and philanthropic responsibility. Businesses are capable of implementing responsible behaviours as they pursue their profit-making activities. Arguably, Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. understands that CSR can enhance a firm’s competitive advantage as it helps to build trust and reputation, as it increases sales, reduces the costs and minimises risk. Therefore, CSR may lead to synergistic value creation. Businesses can create shared value opportunities by reconceiving products and markets, by redefining productivity in the value chain and by enabling local cluster development. A shared value approach requires particular areas of focus within the businesses’ context (workplace) as well as looking after society’s interests (comprising the environment, marketplace and the community) for the firm’s self-interest.  Of course, the enterprise’s performance must be continuously monitored and evaluated in terms of achieving the desired economic results. The efficient operational processes are aimed at adding value to the firm itself. Arguably, when an organisation does well, there would be more available jobs in the community, would address unemployment issues which would result in more tax contribution to authorities.

Suhail Haque – Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

* The reason for the selection was: Quality of content and simplicity of the text.

Having an action plan is all well and good, but a ‘strategic’ plan really has an impact! Actually, strategy is importance in practice.

Having an action plan is all well and good, but a ‘strategic’ plan really has an impact! Actually, strategy is importance in practice.

Taking Down Cancer – Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

As we observe World Cancer Day on 4th February, it is essential we use this day as a day to debunk some myths that shall allow the world to become cancer free. Many people believe that there is no need to talk about cancer and as the symptoms of the diseases cannot be detected. However, that’s not true; if cancer is detected at the right time, then we can prevent 30% of cancer cases. Today it has become necessary that everyone is aware of cancer and dismiss the myths that are attached to the disease. The primary goal behind observing this day is to reduce the number of people dying due to cancer by 2020. Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd, a research organization working in social development to promote health and hygiene, believes cancer awareness and cancer care is must to make the country healthy. Thousands of lives can be saved through cancer education and raising awareness.

The campaign to educate and raise awareness cannot be done by the  government alone  rather individuals will play a crucial role in reaching out to majority of the people. People can raise awareness through social media platforms and engage in discussions over cancer prevention. Awareness can be raised through wall posters, e-posters, wall graphities etc. In the rural areas, where technology has not been able to penetrate as much, volunteers need to speak to local communities about cancer prevention. However, it is easier said than done and that’s we at innovative financial advisors design social development projects to create awareness about different health related issues in rural areas. Community sensitization sessions are conducted on regular basis in different parts of the country with the help of leading civil society organizations. Awareness is created among local communities through focus group discussions and rallies with an aim to remove myths around cancer. Innovative Financial Advisors also builds local capacity to help families of patients to cope with the disease. Corporate houses that take up health as their CSR activity should focus on providing cancer treatment for people who find it difficult to access. Apart from investing in cancer care infrastructure, corporate houses working in cancer prevention in terms of drugs and equipments. Efforts need to be directed towards devising inexpensive cancer tree options that will allow many lives to be saved. Information related to cancer should be disseminated among people and everyone should unite towards this cause. Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. believes that it is an opportunity for everyone to unite our voices towards this cause and reduce the economic burden of cancer on the future generations.

Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. 

Complex Ideas, Simple Solutions: A Solid waste management initiative – Fiinovation

Fiinovation engages in developing simple solutions for complicated problems, striving to address environmental conservation, livelihood generation, health and educational enhancement holistically in the proposals it designs. “Swachdhara” is one such initiative. It addresses the problem of solid waste management in Ujjain. Ujjain a major pilgrimage in India observes huge influx of millions during various religious occasions. These floating population and poor waste management infrastructure paralyze the city’s hygiene completely. The unorganized sector of rag pickers goes around cleaning the city to some extent to earn their daily needs. This duty free service to the environment and civic society is never recognized and even looked down upon.

The project “Swachdhara” proposes initiatives where constitution and alignment of Rag picker’s Federation would be undertaken with sustainable waste management practices and through value addition for sustained livelihood security. Capacity building of the rag pickers, community sensitization and participation forms an integral part of the endeavor. Thus the interventions suggested incorporate training the rag pickers on safe and scientific techniques of waste collection, waste segregation and recycling techniques in collaboration with appropriate government institutions and experts from research organizations. Subsequently the videos and photographs of the training would be screened in all the municipal wards for awareness generation and community sensitization so that the community appreciates and participates enthusiastically towards making Ujjain a cleaner city. This would initiate a major behavioral change among the community.

As per the project design meetings would also be organized with participation from government stakeholders, members of residential associations, business associations for consensus on improving the waste collection, segregation and recycling strategies adopted in the area. In-order to improve the insufficient infrastructure of waste collection, segregation and recycling, the rag pickers would be capacitated with gloves, brooms, scoopers, handcarts, mini dumper, and waste recycling machines. Each one of them will be employed to cater to 200 households respectively for door to door household collection. They would also be instilling in the community household level segregation and hence will collect segregated waste. In lieu of this nominal fees would be collected at household level. This would inevitably lead to rise in their income and purchasing capacity. Bank accounts of these rag pickers would be opened in order to instill in them a savings habit. This would provide economical security in the long run. Furthermore, large bins would be placed at equal intervals on the streets to enable dumping of segregated wastes from shops, restaurants, educational institutions and commercial buildings. The dumper truck would enable efficient waste collection and transportation following fuel efficiency routes. The biodegradable waste would be taken to compost generation unit.

The compost generated would also be sold to consumers who may be from the city or from the rural areas in the outskirts of the city. Moreover facilitation of direct linkages would be established with recycling units of non biodegradable wastes through the concerned NGO. These non bio degradable wastes would be sold to the recycling units by the rag pickers themselves eliminating the interference of the middlemen. Additionally, the conclave between the bank and the rag pickers federation would enable them in withdrawing loans for setting up their own waste up-cycling units. Thus by all the above means earning of the rag pickers would definitely increase and is sustainable. The concerned NGO would also be engaged in making linkages between government hospitals and the rag pickers. This would enable them to be aware of various free health facilities, have health cards, and avail free medical aid. Regular and specialized health camps will aid in improved health condition in their squatter settlements. Improvement of literacy rate would also be undertaken for both the children and adult population of the rag pickers family. Since income has been already ensured, the rag pickers need not to take their children for waste collection. The children of the rag pickers would be enrolled in nearest government schools.   Measures through different government schemes would be taken up for these underserved children in collaboration with the school authority to prevent drop outs. Adult literacy classes would also be conducted in the squatter settlements. Such a holistic approach ensuring livelihood security, environmental conservation, literacy rate and improved health condition can prove to be an exemplary work to be followed in other parts of India.

Fiinovation designs such projects through converging CSR and CSOs visions evidently delivering sustainable, equitable socio economic development, environmental conservation, livelihood generation and improved literacy.

By – Dr. Abira Dutta Roy

Fiinovation

Project SWACHDHARA

Project SWACHDHARA