Nation building, one community at a time

In a country that needs all the help it can get, the involvement of business, whether big, medium or small, is essential. The Philippines is blessed with a great number of companies who have made it part of their mission to invest in the communities within which they operate.

While there are still many corporations who have token CSR activities as part of either compliance or marketing/branding efforts, there are those who have made Corporate Social Responsibility an integral part of their operations.

Whether a company is still in the compliance / branding mode of CSR (think philanthropy and doleouts) or grown into one that has fully embedded CSR into the corporate structure, communities improve. As we have said earlier, every little bit helps.

There is a difference between the two types, it is clear that the latter provides more, and lasting benefits to the community. The bigger benefit, however, lies in the benefit back to the company.

Creating Shared Value

The concept of creating shared value is based on the principle that social development is strongly tied in with economic development. The two go hand in hand– thus, true CSR must go beyond the old concept of simple philanthropy.

Sustainability is perhaps the biggest benefit of CSR based on creating shared value. The fact that business and philanthropy overlap ensures that the practice and benefits are long-term.

Because it is long-term, it invites participation from the different stakeholders in a corporation– investors, employees, donors from outside, and most importantly, the members of the community it benefits. Done right, a CSR program based on the concept of creating shared value often ends up with the community itself being its biggest participants.

Nestlé Philippines, for example, has a strong CSR program involving farmers from the coffee-growing regions.  Called The Nescafé Plan, it involves farmer training, soil assessment, providing coffee plants and a buy-back program. Using this plan, it not just provides much-needed jobs and economic development to the areas it serves, it also has managed to embed responsible sourcing as part of its corporate structure.

The Ayala Foundation has several efforts based on this principle as well. At the forefront is the UP-Ayala Techno Business Incubator, which aims to identify, develop, and promote social entrepreneurs who provide innovative solutions to social problems. As their site states, the UP-Ayala TBI ‘does not only support business start-ups working in the field of technology, but also those that seek entrepreneurship opportunities focusing on clients who belong to the base of the economic pyramid.’

The dearth of good jobs have left around 10 million Filipinos who are either unemployed (three million) or underemployed  (seven million) as far back as 2012, with the number increasing by around 1.3 million every year. Filipino companies have stepped up not just in the hiring process, but in educating the people and preparing them for quickly changing environments where the skills produced by the education system are often not relevant or quickly become obsolete.

Relief, Recovery, Rebuilding and Growth

In a nation that experiences around 20 typhoons a rainy season that brings calamitous floods, and various disasters annually, the contribution of corporations and their CSR efforts have been vital for the survival and recovery of the country.

San Miguel Corporation, at the forefront of the CSR movement in the Philippines has already breached the 1 billion mark in CSR spending as far back as 2012., more than half of which were spent on rebuilding homes for victims of Typhoon Sendong.

Yolanda, the strongest typhoon recorded in these times, is a wonderful example of how the country’s business communities have stepped up to bridge the gaps in the government’s programs. 

Rebuilding in Leyte for both houses and schools was a united effort of countless business, large and small alike.

The Rise of Social Media

The rise of social media has also proven to be a key ingredient in the growth of CSR efforts in the country. Social media has not just helped encourage participation and volunteerism from employees and other participants, but it has increased the value of these efforts toward building corporate and brand image as well aside from serving as an effective communication, feedback and engagement tool.

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