In today’s increasingly interconnected world, businesses have the capacity to play a vital role in transforming people’s social, cultural, and economic lives, while working in partnership with their respective Government and NGOs. Creating a more inclusive economy and reducing large-scale poverty in a country such as India can be undertaken collectively with a company’s profit-generating approach.
Embassy envisioned the Corporate Connect Program as an opportunity to champion collective action in the space of CSR. We created the Program in 2017, which aims to bring together corporate occupiers of our owned business parks with a shared vision for the building communities around where we work, thereby optimizing a combined developmental impact.
By working together to achieve progress on macro issues such as education, the health infrastructure in the country, and gender inequality, companies through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives can help the Government facilitate a greater reach and scale to uplift, for the betterment of people and to create a positive social impact in urban India. Social change and its impact landscapes beyond the reach of a single organization, therefore it is essential to recognize the impact that multiple organizations are capable of bringing in by identifying common mandates – collaborating is key to ensuring the effective implementation of CSR initiatives especially on a large scale.
The benefits are numerous, firstly of course, the extent of reach and subsequent impact. Besides, there is a lesser chance of underutilising resources as the collaborating companies bring in greater efficiency, experience, and there is considerable learning from each other’s mistakes. Businesses focus on a better social return on their investments. There is greater encouragement in terms of innovation, the creation, implementing successful models in addition to leveraging various strengths and skillsets of individual organizations.
Underpinned by the philosophy – “together we can do more”- Embassy has successfully mobilized 23 corporate partners for 50 projects in the sphere of education, health, public spaces enhancement, and Covid-19 relief, by demonstrating the success of collaborations with its corporate occupiers with amplified efforts and scope. Our holistic health & hygiene program for Government Schools saw an extensive outreach under the Corporate Connect initiative. Since 2016, we have been championing preventive health awareness in Government Schools, in building a generation of students with improved lifelong resilience to disease.
With the efforts of our corporate partners in the sphere of health, we provided free health check-ups and maintained records of more than 4,000 students in 14 Embassy adopted Government Schools. It was soon discovered that, with the attendance levels in schools dropping and a recurring pattern was being noted each year. Moreover, it was observed that there was a general lack of understanding of the basic preventative measures required to combat common health programs across. As a result, we established a 7-step holistic health & hygiene program that provided an entire gamut of support right from preventative measure to basic awareness, daily maintenance and clean drinking water to thorough and comprehensive health screenings and medical interventions if needed in some cases.
Since then, we have scaled our program to benefit over 26,000 students across Bangalore, Pune, and Noida in 2019. In 2020, combatting the spread of the Covid-19 virus, we were able to impact around 45,000 students while reaching Mumbai, Chennai, and Hosur as well. Embassy activated its Corporate Connect program to collaborate with corporates to come forward and contribute to our Community outreach initiatives. Our existing strong relationships with our corporate tenants and Government authorities while adding more corporate partners to our health consortium, has led to the success of this program.
On the contrary, corporates working in isolation of Government departments and agencies however do not seem to have the same level of impact which can be created through collaboration. We have found that alignment with the Government maximizes value for communities and the environment, especially underprivileged, and avoids any duplication of efforts. In most cases, the Government also has its existing networks, infrastructure and carried out need-based assessments on ground for a better understanding. Utilizing their expertise ensures greater efficiency and effective results. While executing CSR campaigns, companies must invest a great deal of time in identifying and selecting beneficiaries – supporting Government programs, which are often more credible, which in turns saves time and effort.
While creating a platform for Corporates to collaborate, Embassy along with several other corporates approached the Government of Karnataka Department of Education to augment the ease of working with the Government. The entire process was collaborative in nature, with Embassy at the forefront, that allowed for constructive inputs and led to the creation of Namma Shale – Namma Koduge app. This app generates greater transparency for donors while serving the needs of Government Schools. For donors, they will have the option to select the sector that they would facilitate, be it is through material or monetary donations, and ensuring a clear process for Corporates to conduct their CSR initiatives while in tandem with the Government’s larger mandate.
As CSR continues to be an ever changing constant, one thing becomes clear – collaboration is needed if positive social change on a national scale is ever to be realized. Closing gaps between corporates, as well as with the Government usually results in a win-win situation. Corporate collaboration is instrumental, provides a channel for innovative solutions, is a medium for skilled manpower to implement existing government schemes and has great value to those who it impacts.
Author: Ms. Shaina Ganapathy, Head of Community Outreach, Embassy Group