With better support to livelihood sector, CSRs can uplift the nation

India is home to some of the richest people on the earth, and ironically, it is also home to the poorest of the poor as well.

According to the Brookings report, about a decade ago, India had approximately 73 million people who were living in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty equates to a severe lack of access to even basic livelihood like proper shelter, good food, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, etc.

However, the Indian government over the years has taken great strides in pulling out literally millions of Indians out of poverty. From 54.7% in 2005, they helped reduce it to 17% in 2020.

Yet there is still a long way to go, and they cannot do this by themselves.

Indian organisations have definitely pitched in and have been addressing various livelihood issues relentlessly. According to an analysis published by CRISIL Foundation, the main focus for many companies in the past year was on improving education, healthcare and livelihoods. In fact, these accounted for 75% of the total spend on CSR. In the financial year 2019-20, in terms of both, number of companies spending (1,030) and proportion of total spend went up to 36.16% from 35.03% of the previous year.

Here are some of the issues that require more support.

Restoring livelihoods

In an increasingly crowded world, some kind of disaster is always around the corner. Earthquakes, cyclones, floods, forest fires, pandemic, you name it, we've seen it all in barely last 5 years. Any kind of disaster always strikes the poor in the worst possible way, destroying their meagre livelihood. That's why having a committed project that aims at restoring some dignity back into their lives is important.

Aspire Systems India has partnered with World Vision India to support one of their landmark project, ‘Restoration of livelihood’ and focus on COVID-19 affected households in few small towns in Tamil Nadu.

The programme aims to help 100 beneficiaries with livelihood options based on their needs, such as the supply of agriculture inputs, livestock, setting up of small shops, etc. The restoration efforts will help the beneficiaries in enhancing cash flow in the community to meet the daily consumption expenses and improve food and nutrition security among affected and reverse migration households

Empowering women with equal opportunities

For long women have been suppressed and held back citing various patriarchal reasons. It is time we create an inclusive society and change our attitude towards women as a weaker sex and provide them equal opportunities. Empowering women will transform individual lives, families ,societies and nations in a broader context.

Hindustan Unilever's 'Project Shakti' is an initiative that aims to financially empower and provide livelihood opportunities to women in rural India. The Shakti Entrepreneurs are given training for familiarisation with many of the company’s products and basic tenets of distribution management. This programme has helped Shakti Entrepreneurs gain selling skills, become self-confident, improve their self-esteem and learn communication skills.

Creating self-reliance through skill enhancement

Being a country with more than one billion population and having a significant under-skilled youth is just a recipe for disaster. Setting up long-term skill enhancement programmes will not only empower the poor to a better livelihood but also uplift the society greatly.

National Aluminium Company Limited, (NALCO) has set up various skill enhancement centres in different parts of the country it operates, to improve the employability of women and youth. Some of the training are beautician course, food and nutrition, tailoring, motor winding, pump maintenance, farming etc.

Welfare of the farmer is welfare of the nation

If agriculture goes wrong in a nation, everything will eventually fall. That’s why farmers are one of the most valuable members of the society.

In India, agriculture is the source of employment for more than 50% of the population, accounting for nearly 16% of its GDP. However, in the last few decades, India's focus on investment has shifted from farming to IT and other sectors. Thus, the Indian farmers have been lagging behind in many areas are not educated and thus are not adapted to technological development.

Mahindra & Mahindra has launched the Krishi Mitra project, in partnership with several NGOs, where it helps small and marginal farmers by educating them in updated techniques in farming. The project also provides various services leading to improvement in agricultural productivity, for the advantage of the farmers.

Besides initiating several individual projects aimed at improving livelihoods, many organisations from various sectors have come together to create a first-ever multiagency partnership called India Livelihoods Collective (ILC). Its sole objective is to scale-up livelihoods interventions in farm, non-farm and urban jobs ecosystems. It will also facilitate innovative solutions in rural livelihood opportunities in partnership with technology incubators and social businesses.


Image Source & References:

The start of a new poverty narrative (brookings.edu)
Annual Report (brookings.edu)
Sustainability in CSR Projects for Village Development - India CSR Network
Home | India Livelihoods Collective (ilc.org.in)
Infographic: Education, livelihood draw most CSR spend | India News - Times of India (indiatimes.com)
Opportunities for women | Sustainable Living | Unilever global company website
National Farmers Day 2020: Top CSR Projects for Farmers' Welfare in India - The CSR JournalIndia Development Review (idronline.org)
Project Shakti- CSR Projects India (csrbox.org)
CSR Initiatives Benefitting Farmers in India - The CSR Journal