What You Ought To Know About The CII CSR Summit & NGO Mela 2015


CII CSR Summit & NGO Mela 2015

Big buzz in the room…. Many hopeful and expectant participants…. Looking forward to the first ever conference since the mandate on the CSR spend organized by CII in Bangalore. And the theme was very relevant “Social Impact through Partnership between Governments, Corporate and NGOs”. More than 200 people were gathered and 40 plus NGOs had setup their tables in the NGO Mela. Spread over half a day and power packed with some of the big names who are involved in influencing the transformation and hopes of CII playing big role in driving the change in owning the issues in the society. This looked like a great beginning. And we also want to be part of it.

After the Companies Act was passed in 2013, corporate social responsibility became a priority for every big company in India.

Our consulting company Vardaan advices corporates, not for profits, social enterprises for maximising returns, capacity building to create social impact. This year, we decided to attend the CII conference to see how we could improve our impact assessment skills. This is what we found out.

The Bigwigs Speak Out

As we made our way to the venue of the Summit, we noticed the presence of more than 200 participants.

One of the speakers for the day was Rajni Mishra, the Chief General Manager of SBI. Being a Government-owned bank, the SBI has a 1% CSR spending mandate as opposed to private-sector companies which need to spend at least 2% of their annual revenues on CSR activities. According to Mrs. Mishra, the SBI had spent around Rs 15 crore on building toilets for schoolgirls around the country. She also emphasized the need for programs like Swachh Bharat that aim to make small but meaningful changes in society. According to her it was a great example of partnership where various bodies could work together and bring huge transformations through such programs in the overall development of the nation.

Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education had a different take on the subject. Mr. Pai was of the view that corporate needs to focus on business and as part of growing their business they need to engage themselves in environmentally sustainable work. However with the mandate in place the best way to bring about change is for groups to work together. He shared the story of how one man’s dream to not have even one child go hungry paved the path for Akshay Patra and its successful story. He stressed on the importance of CII playing a stronger role in bringing groups to work together on causes; if we have to bring about a significant change in society.

NGOs Need Better Ways To Gauge Impact

One major topic discussed in the conference was about building the capacities of NGOs to better understand the impact of their projects.

The Centre For Social Initiative and Management offered a few interesting impact assessment models to consider. This organization works with NGOs to help them accomplish their long-term goals and has an impressive roster of clients. Rang De, one of CSIM’s clients, shared their impact assessment story with us. Although their efforts were commendable, we weren’t really sure as to how they arrived at certain conclusions.

There was a lot of talk about quantitative assessment at the conference, but we still feel that there’s more to it than just that.

Bridging The Skills Gap

The other main topic of discussion was the shortage of skilled labour. Most of the participants at the summit found that dealing with this problem was not as easy as it seemed. One idea was to bridge the skills gap by building sustainable partnerships between NGOs, corporates, and the government—many were still skeptical, though.

However, the story of Labournet Services resonated well with the audience. GayatriVasudevan, the CEO of the organization, explained how Labournet is today a platform for unorganised labour sectors to develop skilled workforces. She’s accomplished this by working with both the private sector and the state to create relevant and industry-specific training modules. Others too felt that Industrial Training Institutes were essential to tackling to this problem, but stressed the challenge in finding employment for the newly trained. In this vein, Bosch, the German MNC, shared some of their vocational training models with the participants.

On the whole, the CII conference turned out to do exactly what it was to supposed to—it brought together a bunch of CSR-friendly organizations and hosted an enlightening discussion on how to maximize the impact of various CSR initiatives.

And at Vardaan, we’ll be working hard to make sure our insights help your programmes in every way possible.