Tuesday, September 26th, 2017
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An efficient approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investment is likely to produce the most constructive results for both these businesses and society as it is likely to establish the most efficient and effective distribution of resources from the perspective of not only the firm but also society. CSR extends beyond the door of company into the local community and involves a wide range of stakeholders in addition to employees and shareholders.

Corporate social responsibility is also about the arrangement and combination of services in their local setting. Companies contribute to their community investments and welfare schemes by providing employment to the special persons, utilization of skilled labour clusters, and to contribute in the process of getting skilled the community people. On the other hand, companies depend on the health, stability, and prosperity of the communities in which they operate. The reputation of a company at its location, its image as an employer and producer, but also as an actor in the local scene, certainly impacts its competitiveness.

Socially and environmentally responsible policies provide investors with a good indication of sound internal and external management.

The aim is to increase long-term profits through positive public relations, high ethical standards to reduce business and legal risk, and shareholders' trust by taking responsibility for corporate and social actions. CSR strategies encourage the company to make a positive impact on the environment and stakeholders including consumers, employees, investors, communities, and others. In Pakistan, institutional social responsibility concept and its implications with their internal and external dimensions have made valuable contributions to this regard. Fauji Foundation, PAEC Foundation, etc. are a case in point. On the other hand, dozens of multinational corporate companies of various business sectors, Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs), and other private national companies have their CSRs in their corporate policy.

The CSR is titled to aid an organisation's mission as well as a guide to what the company stands for its stakeholders and community to gain balanced and sustainable development for creating an alliance for progress.

Despite progress in relation to UN's Sustainable Development Goals over the last few years, a large proportion of the Pakistani community still remains in poverty, and indeed to be graduated from poverty. These people, mainly women, often lack both the necessary skills and capital to lift themselves out of poverty.

Under the umbrella of Government of Pakistan, BISP (Benazir Income Support Programme) has emerged as a largest cash transfer programme in the history of Pakistan; it has established a comprehensive social safety net through integrated UCTs, CCTs (for education), livelihood, microfinance, health and insurance schemes/initiatives for the vulnerable society of Pakistan. Nevertheless, consistent struggle to pull out 7.7 million families living below the cutoff score 16.17, a national registry of the socioeconomic status of almost 27.36 million households, and 155 million individuals across Pakistan; the Pro-Poor Public Private Partnership Developments can be projected as a spring board to graduate the poor segment from the poverty.

The debate on cash transfers versus assets has already been under reflection for innovative financial inclusion, income generation and livelihood interventions, targeting the ultra-poor. By addressing both the lack of assets and skills, the piece of social innovation through Pro-Poor Public Private Partnership ultimately is aiming to help the poor graduate from extreme poverty.

Although, the cash transfer schemes have their significance at one hand. As far as national social protection schemes are concerned, the hands on skill-based training and coaching component, and asset-based micro-financing interventions cannot only be efficient but cost-effective approach also. In this regard, the Public Private Partnerships have the value-added potential to achieve the poverty alleviation goals.

A livelihood intervention providing productive assets and skills training to the poorest people will support them transfer into more stable self-employment, increase earnings and substantial reductions in poverty can be achieved at large.

Employment opportunities especially for the women in poor rural villages are inadequate. The concept of Agro Buddies and BISP-CSR partnership development interventions are more civic and pro-poor. Through agricultural support initiative, students of agricultural universities will assist and provide coaching to the BISP Beneficiaries' households to improve their overall crop production and trade. The Corporate companies in Pakistan have the golden opportunity to extend their CSR activities in collaboration with BISP and its beneficiaries through integrated partnership development for income generation, livelihood, health, education and assets based interventions for the poor section of society.

"All of us - the private sector, civil society, labour unions, NGOs, universities, foundations, and individuals - must come together in an alliance for progress. Together, we can and must move from value to values, from shareholders to stakeholders, and from balance sheets to balanced development. Together, we can and must face the dangers ahead and bring solutions within reach." - Kofi Annan

(The writer is a development practitioner. Studying as M. Phil Scholar in Government & Public Policy from National Defence University Islamabad, and serving as Assistant Director at Benazir Income Support Programme)



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