Is it worth involving the Corporate Sector in development?

The corporate sector is in business for profit; tend to look at any spending of resources in terms of profit they can get; and fail to understand social development goals and/or NGO activities. These features are well known. But they do have resources that can be effectively ploughed into the community for its development.

NGOs stand to gain by -

  • being efficient and productive
  • engaging the commercial environment in their outreach.
  • influencing companies to be socially responsible
Companies also stand to gain by -
  • being seen as socially responsible
  • actively participating in social development and nation building
  • enlightened self-interest - poverty eradication benefits the corporate sector in the long run.
  • raising employee morale.

What then are the corporate resources that can be tapped?

Transfer of skills through staff secondments, providing executive time and training in -
  • General management - planning, budgeting, systems etc. for community organizations/NGOs.
  • Marketing - product design, developing marketing strategies etc. for income generation programmes.
  • Technical - production methods, construction, agriculture extension etc.

Access to markets by -

  • Distribution tie ups (by "piggybacking" products of income generation projects on company's products).
  • Preferential purchase of products such as raw materials (mainly from agricultural produce such as honey and herbs), packaging material (cardboard cartons, plastic labels), consumables, stationary, office supplies etc.

Usage of company infrastructure such as -

  • Medical facilities for referrals, camps etc.
  • Conference facilities
  • Communication facilities such as fax and telephones
  • Equipment such as photocopiers and computers

Creating employment opportunities by -

  • Employing the disadvantaged (persons with disabilities, for example)
  • Developing/supporting ancillary units employing the disadvantaged.

Financial Support -

  • Funds to cover specific capital projects
  • Funds for operating costs
  • Appointing NGOs and/or community organizations as company authorised distributors with margins and discounts.

Donation or discounts on products and assets -

  • Company manufactured products
  • Used assets

Abstracted from:
"NGOs and the Corporat Sector: The Rewards of Lateral Thinking" by Shankar Venkateswaran in EXCHANGES, December 1995

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