Businesses can use their core competencies to come up with sustainable corporate social responsibility programs that help uplift the lives of the underprivileged.
This new paradigm of how business can do good was put forward by Globe Telecom president and CEO Gerardo C. Ablaza, Jr. at the recently concluded Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Week Expo organized by the 59-strong League of Corporate Foundations.
Ablaza said that by including social issues into the development and execution of core business strategies, companies have the opportunity to contribute to the development of marginalized sectors of society and turn them into consumers and active participants in nation building. This way, CSR efforts go beyond promoting good public relations and become sustainable solutions to social problems.
The Ayala group, for instance, has integrated CSR in its corporate strategy. The parent company actively manages its portfolio to ensure that investments in property, banking, telecommunications, water infrastructure, electronics and information technology deliver innovative and high quality products and services to its stakeholders.
“In the Ayala group, we believe that the daunting task of leading our country to progress does not rest solely on the shoulders of government,” explained Ablaza, “One of the better ways of participating in national development is the effective use of our core products and services to uplift the lives of the Filipino.”
Meanwhile, programs driven by the Ayala Foundation and Ayala subsidiaries and affiliates are focused on education, information technology, livelihood, microfinance, and community development”‚”areas that not only reflect the companies” core values but also form part of their core competencies.
In the case of Manila Water, its flagship program Tubig Para Sa Barangay has not only improved water supply, addressed health and environmental issues, and enhanced the quality of life in underserved communities, it has also reached a substantial market and reduced revenue losses from illegal connections and leaks.
Bank of the Philippine Islands has extended credit of over P60 million to non-profit institutions, cooperatives and micro-entrepreneurs. BPI Foundation also trains small and medium enterprises to help improve viability and profitability.
Ayala Land’s Dagdag Kita sa Pamilya program conducts livelihood training for the unemployed. This also helps ensure that its property developments would continue to have vibrant neighboring communities.
At Globe Telecom, the Bridging Communities, or BridgeCom program is focused on community leadership and development, education, information technology, and livelihood.
Ablaza cited the case of Brgy. Bolton, a farming and fishing community eight hours away from Davao City that has begun to struggle with increasing unemployment and migration of its skilled workers to the city. Globe Telecom, in partnership with ABS-CBN Foundation, created the BridgeCom sa Bayan training program in local governance and business development. As an offshoot of this, three store owners have started a Globe Autoload Max business and community leaders have defined their own micro-enterprise plans.
In another case, G-Cash, a service that allows payments and fund transfers through mobile phones, is now being tapped by the Rural Bank Association of the Philippines to facilitate loan amortizations and deposits for its microfinance borrowers.
According to Ablaza, BridgeCom addresses the needs of two major underserved sectors: the entrepreneurial poor who have the capacity to become successful business people using the Autoload Max platform, and micro-credit institutions and cooperatives through G-Cash. While these cases are unique to the Ayala group, Ablaza said that businesses can follow similar paradigms that deliver returns for its investors as well as society at large. By shifting CSR from charity and ad hoc forms of support to more strategic programs, business can make a real and lasting impact on society.
As Ablaza said: “Nothing brings greater joy and fulfillment than the knowledge that we have offered our talents and efforts in helping others stand on their feet and live their lives with dignity.”