How Corporate Social Responsibility can Actually be the True Partner of the Government in Solving Several Social, Economic, Political and Geopolitical Issues

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    The companies’ Act, 2013 made it mandatory for Companies with a turnover of more than 5 crores to contribute a minimum of 2% for their CSR activities. A reputed media house immediately turned to me for my opinion, and the first thing I said was, “why only for big companies?”

    In my previous article titled “how any industry should be driven in this customer-centric 21st Century”. [Link here]. In that article I had attempted to throw light on making the right investment decision to build a reputable business rather than a lucrative one. You can build a lucrative business with a capital-driven game, but you can build a reputable business with a value-driven game, which in turn has to be anyways capital-driven for your own sustainability, health and growth.

    Before going any deeper into the article, let us recapitulate how a government machinery actually functions. If you look at the business behind that, every machinery focuses on capitalizing on those who are already educated and empowered by already created jobs or businesses and raises money from them in form of tax, which it invests on those who need to be empowered to join those already settled and self-sustainable, so that the government can bring more people under the tax ambit, and enhance the national infrastructure and bringing the best comfort, security and justice to the people, which is the ideal goal for any progressive nation.

    In reality, we do not see that. All we see is, failed appeasement, which turns out to be unjust, with others crying foul, resulting in failed projects and initiatives, and all the comfort, security and justice-providing infrastructure development coming to a standstill, and the tools to accelerate the nation-building activities on paper, and the elected government jumping to its plan B – appeasements.

    Fortunately, we should be really thankful to the great stalwarts of policymaking who proposed the 2% minimum mandatory CSR contribution. My question is, why not everyone? After all, your business interacts with the society for solving a particular challenge of theirs, and that’s why you are relevant. You need to work on more ways to enhance the value you drive around your business, so how can you create more value? By having a socially-driven connect with the value you try to generate, which you re-adjust for your capital constrictions and implement your business accordingly. So, you can build more capital by generating value from the most unexpected avenues and thereby building your reputation from there.

    Let us now analyze what I am saying, issue-wise:

    (I) EDUCATION: With your visionary investment in sick schools [which aren’t financially sustainable], you create learning opportunities for more people. Small companies cannot always invest huge amount of money, so they can always keep a part of their innovative learning products for those financially crippled schools. By doing this, you are supporting programmes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which you can show in your investor pitches and advisements and raise more capital, generate more revenue and keep getting donations for that particular initiative you took.

    (II) UNEMPLOYMENT: See how you can solve the problem of education, and then work on skill-building. Create tools around your products. Work with your partners, clients and other stakeholders to have the most distantly relevant enterprise innovation from your side, and you can join NSDC or state government initiatives and get them implemented. Again, the same perks – respect in front of investors, customers and enablers.

    And, with Education and Employment, you actually empower a lot of people to come to the mainstream of life and refrain from being anti-social, thereby indirectly solving the problems of more criminals and terrorists in the society. All you need to see is, how you implement them.

    And, never think yourself to be alone. If you find yourself to be alone, join your business communities. Be part of business network organizations. Support startup and SME communities in a way that you generate more business and value out of them, which you can use to generate more revenue and more capital investments to do much bigger things.

    And, all you need to do in order to start, is:

    (I) Invest on intelligence about your industry. See the best industry practices. See how the society interacts with those practices, and then see how you can develop more people to be your customers, and work on further customer development.

    (II) Chalk out a special enterprise product from your end.

    (III) Build your product and get a team for that specific product so that they consider the product their own and implement it with you.

    (IV) Invest on marketing your product and what you are doing to make it relevant for everyone you see around.

    And, see your share prices increasing.

    The PPP model of governance is the real empowerment tool for both the government and the companies themselves. It empowers the government to implement its tools and programmes for the betterment of the public and ensuring that they remain under the taxable ambit and more people can be brought under the ambit. It enables a business to have more partners, fans and admirers who in turn get converted into customers.

    So, tomorrow do not think your CSR liability as a liability or a burden, but as an opportunity. Be a socially responsible business and help build our nation.

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