In the new series of NSN Connect 2022, we focus on “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India: The Big Picture.” Ms Meena Ragunathan, a CSR Specialist, is the eminent guest of the six-episode series. She is an expert in the Development Sector and has decades of experience setting up and leading Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments for big organizations. She has recently authored a book on CSR – ‘Doing Good: Navigating the CSR Maze In India’.
The third episode in the series focuses on Beyond Funding: CSR in Skill Development and Vocational Education.
Here are some of the highlights from the episode. To watch the full episode, please visit our YouTube channel.
Episode 3- Beyond Funding: CSR in Skill Development and Vocational Education
In the third episode, Ms Meena Raghunathan talks about CSR in skill development and vocational education, how Non-profit organizations and NGOs approach corporates for skilling and education, and how CSR positively impacts various skilling initiatives and impacts entrepreneurship and skill development through CSR.
While discussing the significance of using CSR funds for skilling and education, she remarked that one of the most important relationships in the emerging CSR ecosystem is between a corporation and an NGO. Most of the time, there is a lack of complete trust between the two parties, and the relationship becomes complicated. Corporate entities believe that, because the law is so complex, NGOs cannot comply with its requirements.
To understand CSR law, NGOs must:
- Ensure the CSR budget of the company
- The requirements of reporting they have to face
- Kinds of feasible activities
- Recognize the decision-maker
- Understand the company they are approaching
For NGOs to know if the company is interested in skilling initiatives, they need to:
- Follow the skill proposal
- Focus on kinds of skills and their areas of expertise
- Geographies/ locations the company work in
- The core area of expertise the company can provide for the NGOs
As most companies want to contribute, not only through funds but also share their technical expertise and developing custom proposal items. Companies are willing to seek good NGO partners, but NGOs need to present the case in a way that will help them apply the concept so that the collaboration can have an impact.
Companies conduct extensive due diligence on NGOs since it is difficult to determine whether an organization is reliable or trustworthy. For smaller NGOs to be trusted and acknowledged, they must exhibit their credentials, including the names of the board members, the partners they have worked with in the past, the impact they have successfully demonstrated in the past, and the impact assessment reports.
CSR projects run from April 1st to March 31st. As a result, NGOs need to speak with the company directly to find out about the CSR committee meetings, the approval of the project, and the financial cycle. For the ITI system in India, a corporation can enter and install the most recent equipment, because ITI equipment is typically three to five generations old. For students to gain experience it is crucial in dealing with real equipment in the real world. Hence, the ITI needs to evolve.
Additionally, apprenticeships are a crucial component that the Indian government is actively attempting to promote. However, companies are not utilizing this opportunity because they are unaware of what an apprenticeship is, how it operates, and what benefits it may receive from the government. So, in addition to improving the atmosphere in the classroom at ITIs, apprenticeships are another method to transition to a more practical approach in a factory environment.
Impact investing anticipates significantly higher returns than a traditional business, including environmental and social benefits in addition to modest financial gains. Impact investing slightly follows a different path, skill training institutions receive funding from it, but the CSR funds must be used for the skilling, with no expectation of a return.
CSR funding can aid in fostering entrepreneurship as well. It is possible, for instance, if someone requires a small amount of money to start their business; in this case, it may be considered lively assistance. Giving sewing machines, which is a conventional CSR philanthropic charity act, which will improve the person’s life as a structure-free charitable gesture. It is very viable to provide funding to pre-selected individuals with appropriate results and impacts that are afterwards assessed.