GUEST BLOG: CSR, entrepreneurship and medical aid

CSR | Fri 1 Apr | Author – Business & Finance
medical aid medicine poppet with a camera

By Sana Khan, commercial contracts attorney at Arista Networks

The final instalment of Sana Khan’s seven-part CSR series tackles entrepreneurship and medical assistance – and sums up her advice so far.

Sponsoring entrepreneurship is another CSR initiative that has sustainability at its heart. A large private-sector organisation is best-placed to encourage entrepreneurship and provide support for entrepreneurial people, as well as businesses that need the extra assistance to help them grow that bit more.

This assistance can be through supporting the services or using the products of a new entrepreneurial business, through guidance and advice, by recognising the business as one to watch in the future, or by simply providing monetary assistance to a business in need of funds with which to expand.

Not only that, but you can run competitions and awards encouraging entrepreneurial ideas, especially among students, and provide a variety of rewards for those who are successful – for example monetary assistance, internships, resource assistance, guidance and so on. This way you are encouraging people and businesses to think outside the box and consider how they can establish a successful business in the community – and as a result benefit the people involved, the business and the community directly.

It is important to note that any assistance that you promise to entrepreneurs carries a legal obligation to see through your promise or risk legal problems and adverse publicity through legal proceedings being brought against you. It may also be worth entering into a separate agreement with the entrepreneur or business of your choice, outlining in detail the terms of your relationship and support so that no unwarranted expectations are placed on your business.

IMPROVING MEDICAL ASSISTANCE

Larger organisations can have a particularly positive impact in providing assistance with medical support. This can be either through the running of a medical assistance programme by providing supplies, medical personnel, clinics, equipment and so on, or through the delivery of education programmes in improving sanitation and treating common curable illnesses, with which many developing and under-developed countries often have problems.

You need not directly provide the assistance, but your provision of medical assistance may be implemented in the most efficient manner through partnering with other organisations and agencies. Large pharmaceutical and medical companies often base CSR initiatives on providing some sort of medical assistance to those who need it the most, given that it fits the overall aim of their organisation the best.

Customers are increasingly expecting large corporations to be more philanthropic and socially responsible in communities affected directly and indirectly by the actions of the organisation

Providing medical assistance does not have to directly relate to medical matters and could relate to other issues that indirectly raise the quality of healthcare. For example, providing clean sanitised water to communities will improve quality of life. The same applies for educating communities on matters such as simple sanitation procedures, for example.

Care needs to be taken when supplying anything that can relate to medical assistance as you are potentially increasing your risk exposure: someone could be injured or suffer an adverse reaction through your medical assistance, despite your best efforts. This can be devastating for the reputation of your organisation.

SUMMARY

Customers are increasingly expecting large corporations to be more philanthropic and socially responsible in communities affected directly and indirectly by the actions of the organisation. It has reached the level that most large organisations have some sort of CSR initiative in place – whether they are good and effective is another matter. Just a quick search on large organisations will show whether they have some socially responsible measure referenced in their annual reports or websites. If you are involved in a large organisation it is highly recommended that you create some sort of CSR initiative, as you will quickly fall behind the curve against your competitors.

India, through its Companies Act 2013, has introduced a legal obligation whereby organisations that pass a certain threshold in annual revenue are obliged to invest a certain amount in socially responsible initiatives. It is only a matter of time before other countries start introducing a similar legal requirement. The new EU Directive on Non-Financial Reporting has already started to move the EU’s legislative and regulatory regime in such a direction. It is therefore better to start a CSR initiative before being legally obliged, as this will look better for your organisation overall.

The expectation to be socially responsible has started to trickle down towards SMEs, whose actions can directly affect a community given the often-personal nature of their business (for more information see my ebook).

Customers are becoming more demanding and want to see why they should support a particular organisation in its provision of services or goods in comparison to its competition. One way to further differentiate your business is to show that your organisation is more socially responsible and aware than the next business, which will give the customer or client a feel-good factor in choosing to go with your business rather than a rival.

In this highly competitive world, every little positive differentiation counts towards ensuring your business’s survival!

Photo (above): poppet with a camera
Part one: Thinking about CSR in a new light
Part two: Building a community around your business with CSR
Part three: CSR, the environment and your business
Part four: How workplace CSR can help human rights
Part five: Crowdsourcing your CSR ideas
Part six: Bringing technology to places that need it most

About the blogger

Sana KhanIrish barrister Sana Khan is commercial contracts attorney at Arista Networks, education programme director for the Irish Chapter of Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) and a lecturer on corporate governance at Griffith College Dublin.

She provides innovative CSR initiatives that can be implemented by large organisations and has released an ebook on the subject matter of Business Social Responsibility: CSR for SMEs.

Sana can be reached by email with any queries.