Qualifying social work as CSR is a welcome suggestion but India Inc. needs to look beyond philanthropy

The passing of the Companies Act 2013 marks a definitive step by India towards institutionalizing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the final contours of the new law, set to come into effect from FY 2014-15, are given shape, India Inc. has asked the Government to allow the value of pro bono social work undertaken by their employees to qualify as CSR.

According to an Economic Times (ET) article today, “Include social work in CSR spend: India Inc”, leading Indian corporate houses have submitted a proposal to this effect to the corporate affairs minister, Sachin Pilot. The proposal outlines a national volunteering grid being created by a Tata Group led India Inc. task force and powered by a technology application developed by Infosys Technologies. The grid will match volunteers willing to work on social causes with NGOs that seek to benefit from their professional skills. The idea mirrors the practice in the US where such pro bono work is valued at US$187 billion. The proposal suggests that up to 10% of the mandatory CSR requirement could be met through such pro bono social work.

In India, CSR has traditionally been viewed through the lenses of philanthropy. This latest move to qualify pro bono social work as mandatory CSR, in essence reflects this traditional preoccupation. The valuable contribution of philanthropy in poverty alleviation makes this suggestion a welcome one. However, the realm of CSR is much broader in scope and philanthropy forms only a small part of it. Indian companies need to embrace the concept of CSR in its totality and integrate it with their core business strategies for achieving a balance of their economic, environmental and social imperatives (Triple-Bottom-Line Approach). In effect, India Inc. should deploy CSR as a powerful tool for evolving inclusive market based solutions which harbour the potential of creating deeper and more sustainable social and environmental impact.

What do Olympic athletes and developing country entrepreneurs have in common?

This Devex post talks about the need for an entrepreneurship enabling ecosystem in developing countries, as an integral part of spurring entrepreneurship as a means to enhancing economic growth. Like athletes, social entrepreneurs invest ‘blood and sweat’ in their efforts – their enterprises. Unlike athletes, they do not have enabling ecosystems. Realizing the significant role an entrepreneurship enabling ecosystem can play in bringing about integrated economic development, USAID is launching a new initiative called PACE, or Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship. Read more here.

UK: Allia raises £4.2million bond funding for Cambridge capital

Social finance charity Allia has raised a sum of £4.2million in bonds to pay for a Future Business Centre which will provide office and working space for a total of 50 charities and social purpose organizations in the UK. Read more here.

Five stages of grief for a failed social entrepreneur

This post by a social entrepreneur describes the five stages of ‘grief’ for a ‘failed’ social entrepreneur, someone who has not yet struck gold in his efforts to combine financial returns and social objectives. These stages include denial, blame, self-flagellation, learning, and finally, picking yourself up and starting again. Read more here.

China is fertile landscape for social enterprises

China’s industrial spirit is fanning the fires for a social enterprise funding ecosystem, at the same place where charities have failed due to corruption scandals. A strong entrepreneurial culture and the expectation that the wealthy must give back to the poor is supportive of the trend of emerging social enterprise sector in the country. Read more here.