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From philanthropy to developing solutions to social problems

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Ayala Corp., defines Corporate Social Responsibility as “doing your business responsibly.” It is going beyond compliance to the law, by becoming the supplier or service provider of choice (provision of quality goods and services), employer of choice (fair to employees, compliance with labor laws) and neighbor of choice (going beyond business to serve their communities through corporate citizenship), says Zobel de Ayala. Corporate Social Responsibility, which can include corporate efforts from outright donations to advocacies, is really about giving back. Some firms hold tree-planting activities while others come alive after natural disasters strike by sponsoring or organizing rescue and relief operations. Ayala Corp. is considered a CSR pioneer in the Philippines. Margarita Zobel de Ayala donated the land in Manila where La Concordia College now stands after she saw the need for girls to get affordable but quality education. The company was the first Filipino firm to institutionaliza philanthropy in 1961 when it put up Filipinas Foundation, which is now known as Ayala Foundation. Today, almost every company in the Philippines–from telcos to convenience store chains–has a CSR component. Many Philippine companiesare involved in projects related to education, the environment, poverty, health and disaster aid. Most of the countrys leading corporations have increased their relevant activities in recent years, and many of them have established foundations. Even foreign companies are involved in CSR initiatives. The 15-year-old League of Corporate Foundations is a network of over 70 operating and grant-making corporate foundations and corporations seeking to provide business solutions to social problems in the Philippines through corporate social responsibility. The group planted around 600 cupang and narra seedlings in a five-hectare area at the Ipo Watershed, and has committed to take care of the area, which is now called the LFC forest, for the next three years. The watershed is not only a critical source of water supply for Metro Manila, but also an enhancement of the biodiversity in the municipality of Norzagaray and the whole province of Bulacan, said Helen Orande, executive director of LCF. ‘Kabalikat’ Two of the country’s top telecommunications companies, Globe and Smart, have CSR efforts that are worth mentioning. Smart’s CSR programs are directed toward Education, Environment, Community Building, Health, Disaster Preparedness and Sports and are integrated, one way or another, in the conduct of business unit activities. The entire CSR effort of the company falls under the “Kabalikat” program. “We ensure that partnerships continue to evolve with various stakeholders in the communities that Smart has been working with, particularly in the areas of education, community building, disaster preparedness, environment and health. Kabalikat emphasizes that initiatives are crafted hand in hand with the communities, often involving their participation in various stages, from development to implementation, to evaluation and monitoring,” said Ramon Isberto, head of Smart’s Public Affairs Group. Smart has teamed up with over P1,000 elementary and high schools nationwide through its SmartSchools , Doon Po Sa Amin, Communiteach and Journ.PH programs. For the tertiary program, SWEEP, Smart works closely with over 50 colleges and universities all over the Philippines. This network, along with the company’s NGO partners and adopted Gawad Kalinga communities, serves the “bedrock for our other projects on environment, livelihood, health and disaster preparedness,” said Isberto. Since 2003, Smart’s education programs have trained over 40,000 students, teachers and external partners in the field of technology. Theseseven livelihood programs have helped five communities in social enterprise development that maximizes web and mobile technologies, giving indirect benefit to thousands of families. Kabalikat programs on health, disaster preparedness have made impact on tens of thousands of individuals who have availed of Libreng Tawag or have been extended relief in times of emergencies. The company’s treeplanting activity has also resulted in more than a million seedlings nurtured, giving livelihood and hope to watershed communities all over the country. My Fair Share The My Fair Share program of Globe Bridging Communities, the corporate social responsibility arm of Globe Telecom, in partnership with social enterprise Gifts & Graces Inc., helps small producers such as women sewers of Caritas Manila, Pamana Pag-asa Boni Producers Cooperative in Mandaluyong, and Kaibhan Womens Association in Bulacan, integrate into the Globe Telecom value chain. The My Fair Share eco-bags are sold for P99 at all Globe Business Centers nationwide and through the Globe Online Shop. The My Fair Share eco-bag project is an initiative that empowers the entrepreneurial poor while taking care of communities and the planet. Globe and Gifts & Graces have the shared goal of promoting fair trade, micro-entrepreneurship and improving lives, said Rob Nazal, head of Globe Corporate Social Responsibility. To date, Globe has sold over 16,000 eco-bags which amounts to P1.4 million. Our work is focused on empowering community-based micro-enterprises. Communities have the skills. As a fair trade organization, we go beyond the provision of livelihood opportunities. Part of our engagement with our partners is a capacity building program for the communities which will help strengthen their entrepreneurial capacities,” said Greg Perez, executive director of Gifts & Graces Inc. Beyond providing market access to small producers, Globe also extends ICT infrastructure support such as netbooks, Globe Tattoo Mobile Internet and Fixed Internet subscriptions to Gifts & Graces, Inc. Globe will also assist community-based producers in gaining access to cheaper communications and financial services through BPI-Globe BanKo and the Globe BridgeCom SIM. “Because of the huge demand for the eco-bag, weve also tapped more communities such as Pamana Pag-asa Boni Producers Cooperative and Caritas Manila to help with the production. Pamana is a cooperative of urban poor families who craft products out of upcycled canvas and tarpaulins and whom Globe is helping by donating used tarpaulins and other materials that can be remade into quality handicrafts. Caritas Manila, on the other hand, is the lead Catholic agency for social services and development of the Archdiocese of Manila,” added Perez. CSR used to be an alien concept for many companies. These days, CSR efforts are integrated into the entire organization, especially its profit-making aspects. But Corporate Social Responsibility is not just about planting several trees or donating money to a cause. It is about caring for others despite being in business. Toyota Motors Philippines chairman Dr. George S.K. Ty said,“We derive our resources from society. So, we should accordingly give back to society.”
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