This article is the first in the line of the social innovation conversation that I had initiated in the morning today by a short post. Corporate Social Responsibility is the new business buzzword in corporate circles regarding sustainability reporting and with the advent of ISO 26000- a voluntary standard concerning compliance to social norms and sustainable development. Shell was one of the first companies to adopt a triple bottom line approach towards reporting after the Southern Nigeria delta fiasco in the 1990’s when a civic movement towards emancipation of the oil rich but development poor was quelled by the military regime of Gen. Abacha and Shell got a bad name as these were their development block leases. There were allegations regarding poor environmental pollution control practices and corresponding health impacts found in the Delta by Harvard Medical School Researchers.
Initiatives such as the Global Reporting Initiative are compelling MNC’s to go green via regular sustainability reporting which covers Social aspects as well as Environmental parameters. The current CSR paradigm is towards compliance and getting branding brownie points; its essentially green washing, where the Sustainability Managers are marketing men and orient every dollar spent on social projects into an ROI metric based on eye balls garnered! The trans formative social enterprise/community development movement in the Philippines is called Gawad Kalinga founded by Bro. Tony Meloto. GK in Filipino language means to “give care” or “to award care”. GK partners corporates such as Shell and paint manufacturers/construction material providers on a co-branding model to catalyze social impact beyond tokenism and green washing. GK builds sustainable communities and provide sustainable livelihoods which the Filipino Governments in succession have not able to render in the grossly biased remittance based economy. Bro. Tony features in Shell advertisements and enables a win-win model for both.
In the Singaporean Context, corporates can tie up with Aidha or the World Toilet Organization to gain visibility as well as implement wide scale social impact in communities in South East Asia. Work Integration Social Enterprises can tie up with MNC’s to enable inclusive job creation (The Singaporean Government has a ComCare Fund to seed fund SE’s).
Grameen Movement in Bangladesh has opened Social Businesses with Danone to sell nutrion food to the BoP market at an affordable rate and has transformed communities with Grameen Phone. Corporates should use CSR as an instrument to create social capital in the communities that they operate, moving beyond the odd campaign here and there.
This next level of CSR and Business- Community Engagement is vital to providing services that are non existent in many third world nations. Governance in Singapore is the envy of many countries globally as it is the biggest Social Enterprise itself!