Corporate Social Responsibility and Rural DevelopmentUkuyila
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to the voluntary investment of a company in social/economic projects focused on advancing society with regard to housing, education, health care, food security, job creation and the environment.
CSR, therefore, forms an integral part of the ‘give back’ strategy of any company that has the capability of planning and developing such programmes. Contributing towards the betterment and upliftment of society and maintaining harmonious relationships are seen as important – both on business and societal levels. In a nutshell, it means understanding the important connection between good work and improving profits.
The needs of rural development:
- Building infrastructure and establishing public services and communication.
- Improving education as well as health standards and living conditions.
- Generating employment opportunities across a range of industries.
Benefits for companies
While rural areas hold tremendous potential for investment and expansion for business, there are certain challenges that remain, namely a lack of electricity, power insecurities, poor literacy, traditional ways of thinking, ignorance of new technologies, water scarcity, lack of adequate transport, and the lack of interest and motivation among many to stay in the rural areas.
Despite this, companies that look past these problems and express a willingness to work in partnership with government to implement rural plans, or set up their own initiatives, are most likely to create satisfying ‘win-win’ situations. The benefits are considerable, both immediate and long term.
- Making a difference: Helping people to improve their lives is both motivating and satisfying. Seeing real results over time is important for future generations that may well be future customers. There are sub-standard living conditions across South Africa, and the government cannot manage every aspect of this alone. Therefore, partnerships of purpose are essential, offering valuable involvement and growth.
- Motivating your staff: The new vogue in work ethics is working for a company that contributes to good work. When a company demonstrates an ethos of upliftment and improvement of the lives of the poor, this in turn motivates staff to increase productivity because they see real value in their work. Choosing a workplace can have as much to do with improving societal issues as it does about salary. Many people want to be involved in helping to improve the standards of the poor and to be associated with a company that can prove a sound track record in such projects.
- Corporate image: Improving your corporate image is vital in today’s business world. Building trust with new and existing clients depends on reputation. This, in turn, depends on how a company is seen to contribute towards change within the broader context of its community. Creating that positive image creates greater trust in your products and services. Any company with strong, well-managed CSR programmes has an advantage over companies that do not have such policies in place.
- The broader benefit: Improving the rural component of a country helps the overall economy. Growth prospects that are highlighted and driven in rural areas will help to improve sales, investment and trade in general. Such activities can only help the economy to grow thereby creating opportunities for further investment and jobs. This, in turn, contributes towards the success of any company directly associating CSR policies with rural projects.
The road ahead
It is becoming the norm for good governance and social involvement to work in tandem with business strategy. Whereas before, only shareholder benefits were considered, many organisations now plan ahead with all stakeholders in mind, including their employees, customers, suppliers, the environment and the community – and ultimately the planet.
- Business trends and standards are aligning with the importance and value of CSR, which is proving that high moral standards impact significantly on the bottom line. And there’s no greater persuasion than that.
- South Africa has been highlighted as having great economic disparity – a situation that provides tremendous impetus for programmes to provide greater and equal access to basic goods and services.
- Education and entrepreneurship, in particular, offer a wide spectrum of opportunities to launch CSR initiatives that will not only empower local people, but take corporations forward on the buoyant mix of philanthropic vision and delivery of results.
- Options for partnerships between government, corporations and non-profits abound, and offer the way forward for organisations at all levels to become involved.
Managing projects, seeing results
At Casidra, we take this responsibility extremely seriously not only on an organisational level, but also on an individual (employee) level. The nature of work that Casidra does amongst the communities is primarily about social upliftment.