Covid-19: Is this the CSR propeller for private sector? Ashwajit Singh, MD, IPE Global explains
As coronavirus-caused Covid-19 pandemic continues to shake up the economies across the world, many big corporate houses are coming forward and leaving no stone unturned to offer help to the people hit by the pandemic.
As coronavirus-caused Covid-19 pandemic continues to shake up the economies across the world, many big corporate houses are coming forward and leaving no stone unturned to offer help to the people hit by the pandemic. Amid all this, Ashwajit Singh, Managing Director, IPE Global, an international development consulting company, tries to explain a big question - Is Covid-19 the CSR Propeller for the private sector?
Ashwajit Singh, Managing Director, IPE Global feels, "When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of Giving - This aptly summarizes the demands of the current pandemic and the need for corporates, private sector and philanthropic organizations to work together to fight the war against COVID 19."
Ashwajit Singh adds, "10 million-plus and counting. Around the world, as the infection tally increases the pandemic is all anyone can talk about. The crisis is testing families, communities, healthcare systems and governments. Across nations, it is being dealt with by governments with support from the private sector where the leaders are trying to protect their workers and, at the same time maintain business continuity. Several countries have already built private sector capacity into their COVID-19 response. England, France, Germany, the Lombardy region in Italy and South Africa, are engaging with the private health sector to increase testing and add extra hospital beds, ventilators and, health workers to augment their response capacity. Countries such as Australia and Spain have authorized government bodies to call for private sector support, equipment and staff as needed. The world over countries and organisations are stepping up their philanthropic efforts. As on June 26 total contributions received under the WHO Covid-19 Response Fund amounted to 724 million USD - nearly 41.6% - of the 1.7 billion USD estimated requirement till Dec 2020."
Moreover, Singh says, "India Inc. is no exception. The CSR spends by the companies has shot-up to provide relief funds, food donations, masks, sanitisers, and PPE kits. Recent findings by Crisil Foundation reveals that out of 130 companies analysed, 113 (or 87%) have pledged support either through cash or kind. Of these 113, as many as 84 (including support through the corporate group) have contributed an approximate INR 7,537 crore during March-May 2020 that can be classified as CSR spend. Over two-thirds of this amount (INR 5122 crore) came from the private sector companies. Interestingly Delhi and Maharashtra – the states most affected by the crisis - received the maximum contributions. With the government’s announcement on spends undertaken for fighting Covid-19 being a legible CSR activity, it may impact other causes India Inc. is supporting. But, there is no denying that the corporate sector is now a crucial partner in the war against the pandemic."
"Corporate India is contributing generously both financially and philanthropically - donating money, medical supplies and opening hospitals. According to WHO, a critical lesson from the 2014-16 West African Ebola crisis is that both the public and private sectors need to work in tandem to respond to such a global large-scale crisis. With nearly 70% of healthcare provided by private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes as per the National Sample Survey Office’s 71st round, the private sector in the country can play an even more important role in its response to Covid-19," Singh added.
"Corporates are proactively opting for a more hybrid approach. While tech companies are incubating medical technology, automotive companies are making ventilators, masks, sanitisers, there are others providing free cab-hailing services to medical personnel, subsidized e-learning services and daily food and ration to the needy by teaming up with NGOs. Across the world, governments, tech companies and health authorities are joining hands to find solutions to this health crisis," Singh said.
"The crisis is unprecedented. As the country is embracing the new normal, it is an opportunity for the corporates to expand their CSR footprint. Instead of opting for the easier route and putting their money into designated funds, they can take a more professional approach, forge new partnerships with NGOs and work with the local administrations to use their CSR funds more judiciously. Several companies have begun integrating Covid-19 response in their business operations itself rather than a direct monetary assistance. The efforts have begun and will not only complement the efforts of the government but also set a precedent for the future," Singh concluded.