Empowering communities through CSR

The prosperity of a country is determined by the quality and the welfare of its various communities. Only when there are balanced growth and sustainability in the community can a nation truly achieve greatness.

While most of us are primarily focused on the welfare of our families, we need to be equally responsible for the development of our communities.

The Government of India has launched several programmes over the years to address the needs of various communities across the country. But the problem is gigantic and hence it alone cannot solve the problem.

This is where CSR can be an effective tool for creating sustainable development with a strong focus on social performance.

In fact, last year in 2020, as coronavirus continued to spread across India, many private and public sector companies stepped up CSR efforts to help struggling communities fight the pandemic. According to research by CRISIL, 84 out of 130 companies analysed had contributed Rs 7,537 crore, just between March and May 2020.

However, there are many areas of intervention on which CSR spends could focus for a holistic approach.


Improving the standard of living of villagers:

As India is going through the process of globalisation and modernization, many villages are left behind, while the urban centers get the major chunk of attention. Improving the standards and self-reliance of the villagers at the same time preserving their lifestyle, can add great value to the larger development of the country.

Organisations can focus their CSR strategies by partnering with successful NGOs and community based Organisations (CBOs) and work towards upliftment of rural societies.

Wipro is well-known for its large contribution to society through its Wipro Foundation. Many of their projects are long-term multi-year programmes that are focused on build the capacity of the communities in terms of higher awareness and developing a higher degree of self-reliance to handle their own requirements.


Empowering them with employability:

Youths in villages and slums face extreme hardships in terms of opportunities for being useful to society, as they do not have the necessary skills to be employed or be entrepreneurial.

Focusing on setting up long-term projects, where students after school or college can train themselves to be productive members of society, can uplift the morale of the economically weaker communities.

Mahindra & Mahindra in partnership with Naandi Foundation initiated Mahindra Pride School. The idea was to recruit semi-educated youth from the villages and urban slums, train them and get them corporate jobs.


Educate to recycle:


When resources are hard to come by, recycling is the best method to adapt. Especially in rural, marginalized and unprivileged communities, adapting to renewable energy, waste management and resource conservation initiatives can make big difference.

Tata Power runs a programme called the Adhikaar which aims to inform, enable and empower marginalised communities. In collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation, they set up the Tata Power Renewable Microgrid Limited (TPRMG) to enable access to reliable and renewable electricity for 25 million Indians.

In another example, the Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF) manages the ‘Water for Public Good’ programme. The objective of this programme is to empower local communities to govern water resources and enhance farm-based livelihoods through the adoption of judicious water management practices. Since 2010, HUF has supported grassroots interventions in 53 districts with 23 NGO partners across over 4,300 villages in India.


Innovative farming methods

Although India is an agriculture-based country many farmers in villages still use outdated and ineffective methods that bring them very low yield. Educating them with innovative methods and providing them tools will empower them and enrich the whole community.

Over the past years, Coca-Cola India has built significant inroads into the farming community with its focus on good agricultural practices that provide forward linkages to the Indian farmers. Fruit Circular Economy (FCE) is a step towards addressing the issues of low farm productivity, poor technology adoption and fruit wastage by harnessing the higher productivity potential of fruits – both at the farm as well as processing level.

To truly put meaning behind any CSR project, the objective should be set on long-term development of aiming to empower weaker communities. Strategies inclusive of both aspects can deliver a much prosperous and equitable sustainable society that can help India to grow better and sustainable.