• Rebuilding our nation through CSR

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    While the current administration is trying to rebuild the nation throughits war on drugs,truce with rebel groups, eradication of corruption in government, and improvement of government services, among others,
    businesspeople like mecan also contribute in this rebuilding process through our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This is the perfect time for businesses torethink their CSR efforts and ride the wave of change that is in ourmidst.

    Many companies around the world are becoming environmentally and socially responsible citizens, and they demand the same from their vendors. This is borne bydata from the Grant Thornton International Business Report, a leading mid- market business survey in the world,which reveals that 62% of companies in thestudy says that“because it’s the right thing to do” is a key driver in changing the way they conduct their businesses. This is based on more than 2,500 interviews with business leaders in 34 economies and insights from United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and Grant Thorntonleaders.

    But how do we apply CSR in the country?We are all made aware of communities, especially in Metro Manila, where people live in shanties along creeks and riverbanks that are teeming with garbage and filth.Is it enough that we go to these slum communities and distribute relief goods, books, and other stuff that don’t last?

    I believe that we can do better than that. What if we teach them how to fish and use their catch wisely such that during tough times, they’d be able to cope on their own? If each of the top 1,000 corporations in the Philippines, at least, would adoptanindigent community and help it develop livelihood programs suited to its environment in two to three years, then that would mean 1,000 communities becoming productive and self-reliant. This could jumpstart a revolution that could contribute to the rebuilding of our nation where everyone contributes to the cause.

    A good example is ecotourism; as the Philippines is ranked 14th, ahead of the US and South Africa, among countries that are the most ecologically diverse, according to the World Atlas. We have so many beautiful places that can be considered for ecotourism but are not taken care of and used properly because of lack of financial support or knowledge of local communities.A good CSR would be a business of adopting one of these communities, partnering with the government, and helpingthe local residents develop the biodiversity hotspotas a sustainable tourism enterprise for the local residents.

    Another example is partnering farmers with investors. Mr. Alex Buenaventura, the new president and CEO of the Land Bank of the Philippines, made a presentation in one of our Rotary meetings where he said one of his focus areas is developing the countryside by essentially professionalizing farming activities through partnerships with investors. I believe and I hope that the wonderful ideas he presented will succeed. If they do, our nation’s food supply will be more than sufficient, farmers will be empowered and perhaps our country will again be a major exporter of rice and other crops in Asia. This partnership may encourage the informal settlers in the cities to move to their rural hometowns or go back to the countryside where they can be more productive and thrive in a more dignified living condition.

    There are various ways that we in the business sector could help in rebuilding our nation through our CSR initiatives. We just have to understand and know the impacts of what we could do. We should not just do it because everyone else is doing it. We should do it for a good cause and make it count. It should impact the lives of many.

    Your CSR initiative may not directly impact your businesses but if it is sustainable(add values formation in your initiative to help make it sustainable), it will empower the people and will make them independent, environmentally and socially responsible citizens in the future. I believe your indirect gains will more than double your investments (i.e., time, effort and money). As they say, you reap what you sow.

    Creating, implementing and doing an impactful and meaningful CSR can be difficult. And so is rebuilding our nation. So let’s all hop in and ride the wave of change – together let’s help rebuild our nation through our CSR initiatives as we venture beyond the financials.

    Chris Ferareza is a Partner, Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 800 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to chris.ferareza@ph.gt.com or pagrantthornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com. For more information, visit our Website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.

    CHRIS FERAREZA

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