Access to Safe Drinking Water, the Sustainable Way

PepsiCo Foundation has awarded two grants, totaling $76 million, to sustainable water and sanitation efforts by WaterPartners and Safe Water Network. The PR release describes each program. WaterPartners will use the award to implement their WaterCredit program:

The WaterCredit program in India has two main components: first, to provide traditional grant funding directly to local non-government organizations to install pipes, faucets and storage cellars in impoverished communities, reaching some 60, 000 people. The second component is to establish a loan fund that will empower communities to expand access to safe water for an additional 60, 000 people over the course of the three-year project. This model produces a “multiplier effect” for impact based on a single source of funding and is the first time PepsiCo Foundation has applied micro finance as a strategic vehicle to advance water and sanitation improvements.

The idea of building community-based water supply projects through a combination of grants and loans is new to the water sector. Until now, nearly all water projects facilitated by other organizations have been funded entirely by grants, even when the individuals served by the project have the means to share costs.

Bridging microfinance and water is a topic that NextBillion.net covered earlier this year, so this is a connection that is working well in some regions and with the support of different organizations, such as ACCESS Development Services and Hindustan Unilever Limited. The vision behind this is that communities may not be able to afford methods that purify water and make it safe for drinking, but using microfinance models allows them to collectively take a loan and repay until they eventually purchase the system. Continue reading

[TC-I Call to Action]: NASSCOM Foundation Social Innovation Honours

NASSCOM Foundation, the CSR branch of NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Service Companies), is launching a Social Innovation Honours award.

The annual Honours aim to showcase projects that demonstrate best practices through exemplary use of ICT in areas of social transformation. This honour is a celebration of innovations that bring about social change and development through the application of cutting-edge technology.

There are categories for non-profit, for-profit, and government organizations in India to enter their projects for consideration. If you have a project that uses cutting edge technology to affect education, health, employment, or the environment, this may be a great opportunity to share your success. Applications can be submitted from now until October 20, 2008. The winners will be announced at NASSCOM Foundation’s Leadership Summit in February 2009. You can find more details here and download the application here.

Helpyourbody, a Piramal Healthcare Campaign

The Piramal Group, a research and diagnostics firm based in Mumbai, is partnering with the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), NGOs, and more than 25,000 doctors across India to create a new campaign called “helpyourbody.” As LiveMint reports, helpyourbody is a

crusade against chronic diseases, aiming to provide affordable medicines in rural areas.

The programme… will emphasize on imparting knowledge on healthy food for healthy body and target each and every individual.

Through the three phases of knowledge, action, and care (which is the Piramal tagline), the campaign will first work to partner with thousands of doctors, then make “helpyourbody” tests available and employ detection camps, and finally build communities and involve local NGOs.

Dr. Swati Piramal, Director of the Piramal Group, is quoted as explaining the dire need for this CSR initiative:

India is expected to be the chronic disease capital of the world with 70 million diabetics, 213 million hypertensive patients and 60 million suffering from arthritis by 2025. According to the WHO, the cost of chronic diseases, including welfare losses, is estimated to be Rs 15,01,200 crore by 2015.

With those those numbers providing motiviation, the campaign, according to the helpyourbody website, aims to minimize “economic loss by 2% every year and [earn]  the nation Rs. 67,500 crores by 2015,” as well as save about 1 million human lives.

Rs. 1000 Crore Social Responsibility Engine

Rs. 800 to a 1000 crore, that’s how much the Tata Group, one of the oldest and largest business houses in India spends annually on Corporate Social Responsibility [Via Economic Times]

The Tata Trusts control 65.8 per cent of the shares of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Group. The combined development-related expenditure of the Trusts and the companies amount to around four per cent of the Group’s net profit, its website said.

These philanthropic trusts have created national institutions in science & technology, medical research, social studies and the performing arts.

Previous coverage on the Tata’s CSR Efforts:

  1. Discover your inner Social Entrepreneur on the Train
  2. India’s CSR Leaders: How much can they really change?
  3. A New Software that Keeps Politicians As Honest as Possible
  4. Tata – Heart of Gold or Steel?

[Guest Post]: Enabling CSR at Synopsys

Editors Note: Guest Blogger Badhri is a hardware engineer at Synopsys India Private Limited, Hyderabad. He has formed a team for corporate social responsibility in his company and has been heading it for last two years. He strongly believes that awareness is the starting point for societal change. He writes at overtea.blogspot.com and is associated with targetingtheroots.blogspot.com. In this guest post he writes about the CSR efforts he initiated at Synopsys.

I am one of the numerous people who ducked the effects of recession at the turn of the millennium by going for a Masters education in the US instead of a software job in India. After seeing the effectiveness of the state apparatus (like the police’s response to emergency situations) and the trust people place in a public body (like the court of law), I have come to strongly believe that the same is possible in India too. I believe that the difference between the status of the two countries is dictated by awareness amongst us, the people; about our own rights, about the importance of our active participation in the society and most importantly the necessity to question our government. True, the change will not be instant, and awareness is not the only problem we face, but I sincerely believe that lack of awareness is the root cause.

After four years in the US, I returned to India to work for Synopsys. The time of my joining coincided with our management’s initiative to encourage informal interaction between various units of Synopsys by forming “employee activity committees” with different non-business objectives. One of them is a team for corporate social responsibility. Realizing that this is an opportunity to implement my “enlightenment”, I volunteered to head the team.

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Social Responsbility in IIMA’s curriculum?

Its about time the country’s top business school started incorporating social responsibility into its a curriculum (I would think its probably running late by a few years). But, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) is going through a once in a decade syllabus revision process and one of changes include a asking students to take up a two-week internship with social organizations [via ET]:

In order to highlight the need for coporates’ social responsibility, the committee feels that students be given an option to join a social organisation for internship in their first year. However, students not interested in joining social organisations may opt for writing a case study as an option.

IIMA should learn from other leading business schools in India and abroad which have done a lot more to integrate social responsibility into their curriculum. For instance, SPJIMR, the Mumbai based business school has mainstreamed a fairly well recieved internship program where students work with NGOs and social ventures during a part of thier summer. The key is to make social responsibility a core part of the discourse, not just an additional requirement forced upon the students.

TC-I Tidbits

  • In 65 days, 70% of Gujarat’s villages will be linked with Broadband connectivity, promised Chief Minister Narendra Modi[via iGovernment]. Lets see if he comes through. He cant fool us here at TC-I, our correspondent Prerna is in Ahmedabad as we speak. Staying with promises, the Chhattisgarh government proposed to electrify 79 villages using Solar Energy identified under that Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) project
  • Just learned that Ashoka is running a Geotourism challenge in partnership with National Geographic. The deadlines for submission are already up (sorry we missed it). But you can vote on some cool ideas, including this one by Dhan Foundation, focused on rural tourism.

Evening Edition

For your reading pleasure:

  • International Relations: The India-Africa summit kicked off with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promising to ease access from the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Said Singh, “under this scheme, India shall unilaterally provide preferential market access for exports from all the 50 least developed countries.”
  • Green Energy: As we have been covering in this space, green energy is becoming hotter and hotter in India. Kenersys, a newly formed wind-energy company (owned by Pune based Kalyani Group), has received an investment from First Reserve Corporation, a leading energy-focused private equity firm [via VC Circle]
  • Business Education: XLRI becomes the first Indian business school to become a “part of a UN global initiative promoting corporate social responsibility, values and ethics”. The school is now a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a global framework for incorporating CSR into curricula and research [via Calcutta Telegraph]

Coca-cola to go water-neutral

As reported by GreenBiz.com,  Coca Cola plans to reshape its water consumption practices for its beverages in order to operate in a more socially responsible manner throughout the world.

 The report, “Drinking It In: The Evolution of a Global Water Stewardship Program at The Coca-Cola Company” follows the company’s efforts to achieve “water neutrality” across its worldwide operations while facing challenges from global water quality, availability and access.

Using surveys at various points along the product stream, Coca Cola has developed an integrated strategy to address their water usage.

This year, the company has set a goal of becoming the most efficient company in the world in terms of water use in the beverage industry. It plans to be fully aligned with global wastewater treatment and reuse standards by the end of 2010. It will support projects and investments that focus on rainwater collection, reforestation, protecting water sources and local access to them and the efficient agricultural use of water.

Most Indian companies dont really care about Social Responsibility: Report

Karmayog refers to itself as a “unique free platform for concerned citizens – for social and civic issues”. The organization has published what might be India’s first ever rating of the CSR initiatives of the country’s 500 largest companies. (via ProPoor.org)

The detailed methodology for the rating process can be found here. Companies were provided a overall rating of between 0 and 5, where a rating of 5 implies that the organization has a robust CSR program (note: there is no mention of impact). However 46% of India’s largest 500 companies rank zero in terms of terms of social responsibility (they have no CSR programs).

This implies that close to half of India’s largest companies don’t real care about social responsibility. Quiet shocking?

Eat it up … the less discussed aspect of sustainability

One ongoing topic on this blog appears to be the need to be forever conscious of the consumption dilemma that arises due to expanding markets to untapped communities, specifically BoP and the rural populous. Providing the fringes with first rate technologies and products to better their lives is an integral part of the development quest, but it comes with its own costs.

Triple Pundit writer AS directly discusses this issue with regard to the new effort for building globally sustainable businesses by talking about how consumption itself must also become sustainable.

I want to discuss something that rarely gets discussed in the sustainability world but which I think is going to be a subject of increasing attention. It’s the fact that sustainability is really a two-sided coin. On the one side is sustainable production, which is what all of us in business like to talk about–how companies can get leaner and greener. But on the other side is sustainable consumption, which is something that we don’t talk about much.

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