25th July, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: Companies have been urged to move away from charitable work and create social business enterprises in efforts to make the world a much better place to live in.
In making the call, QI Group of Companies Executive Chairman, Datuk Vijay Eswaran, says charity is a stop-gap measure that merely mitigates but does not offer a long-term solution to socio-economic problems.
In his special address at the National Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Social Business held here recently entitled Social Business – Making it Happen, he pointed out that charity had its own challenges as the cost of running them in certain instances was high.
The conference was organised by Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) and opened by Datuk Peter Chin, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water.
“In some charities, even if RM0.30 out of every RM1 went to the actual cause that would be good as the rest of the money collected would be eaten away by operational costs.
“This is because charity has become a business,” he said.
Hence, Vijay said economically, businesses had to view CSR in a different light as not merely a brand building exercise, but as an important vehicle to resolve social ills.
“There are three billion people on the planet who are living below the poverty line. Whatever businesses that are run, part of their profits must eventually be returned to society to help these people raise themselves above their economic challenges.
“This is why it is critical for businesses to carry out CSR in an effective and sustainable manner,” he said, explaining how Bangladeshi economist, entrepreneur and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Muhammad Yunus had put this into practice with his social business concept.
“In this world of CSR and corporate philanthropy, where corporations are struggling to find a productive and effective way of giving back to society without it being charity, it truly has found a niche.
“Following Yunus’ Social Enterprise model, French yoghurt company Danone, established GrameenDanone Foods Ltd programme in Bangladesh in partnership with Grameen Bank in 2006.
“The company agreed not to take out any of its profits but instead reinvest it to create new opportunities for the welfare and development of the Bangladeshi people, which is why it is called a social business enterprise,” said Vijay.
Highlighting the efforts of his conglomerate towards community development, Vijay explained that Vijayaratnam Foundation, the QI Group’s Malaysian CSR arm, has initiated a programme called Footprints which focuses on employee involvement as opposed to monetary contribution.
“Through the Footprints programme, we pair our employees with children from orphanages and underprivileged homes for a six-month period, to mentor them to become responsible adults and citizens,” said Vijay.
Through this programme, he said, his employees had managed to transform the lives of these children, many of whom continued to be mentored long after the initial six-month period had ended because of the bond that was fostered between both parties.
“The children become inspired and raise themselves above their challenges because of the relationship built with their mentors, and that is very powerful,” he added.
News Source: New Sabah Times