Trust, Inter-Dependence and CSR

We are an interdependent species no matter how we look at it. We need others to fulfill our simple and complex needs. We need a weaver to make our clothes, a farmer to harvest our food and a doctor to cure our ills – not to mention scores of other individuals and creatures who contribute to defining our state of being.

Like the cyclical nature of all things happening on this planet, what comes to us must go to others. Imagine the consequences if honeybees refuse to carry pollen grains on to their legs after they?ve had their fill from a flower, or the bee community refuses to produce more honey than it needs. The bee community knows instinctively that its own survival depends on what it does for the ecosystem it is in.

The banyan tree does not discriminate which creatures it will provide its shade to, and the wheat grain does not announce its rights of being consumed by a certain class of creatures. What nature provides, it provides unconditionally.

The least that we as human beings can do living on an interdependent and a naturally unconditional planet is to understand that our own survival as a species depends on how we let the good that comes to us flow onto others in whatever shape we can best transform it into.

Businesses & Abundance Creation

Businesses are evolved forms of individuals working together to create some sort of abundance that is beyond their immediate need. Companies that operate with the realization that their abundance must be utilized completely by the eco system they exist in, have cracked the code. But what businesses need to realize even faster is that the more this abundance is shared and the more people served this way, the more a company flourishes. In simplest terms, the more pollen grains a bee carries, the more chances there are for more flowers and fruits to be produced. This is beyond the ?job description? of the honey bee and yet it continues to do so after it has had its own fill.

Corporate Social Responsibility is achieved best when businesses get together with other businesses and especially social concerns (NGOs as we call them) and formulate relationships that are based on letting the abundance that they have formed with the help of others, flow onwards into society. A collaborative effort to engage into CSR is always better than an individual effort by a single company. A petroleum company that decides to serve the edu-cational needs of the community it employs and sells its products too, can effectively understand the needs of this community if it engages with an NGO working on education projects.

For the sake of serving and not for the sake of mee-ting corporate responsibility goals, organizations need to trust each other and the NGOs to fulfill the needs of the planet which in turn sustains them.

Interested in examples of Pakistani companies that have realized the power of sharing abundance with their eco systems? Here are some, out of I?m sure many examples, that I?ve personally come across:

Telenor is becoming increasingly well known for its Karo Mumkin campaign that seeks to explore and broadcast the work of Pakistanis who have dared to solve the problems around them using their own expertise and funds. The idea is to sponsor the feeling of hope and to enable Pakistanis towards achieving positive results in a catastrophic environment. There are numerous other CSR initiatives the company is engaged in which are not well publicized. For instance, when the terrible landslides devoured entire villages in Hunza, Telenor provided technological expertise, to young amateur digital cartographers in collaboration with other NGOs, for the areas to be mapped on google for quick access to information regarding relief activities and ground realities.

Mobilink; the cellular giant in Pakistan, is also engaged in multiple activities to share abundance. One of their CSR initiatives that I have personally benefited from has been the Flower Market of Lahore Cantt. What was once a motley crowd of highly talented and dispersed flower hawkers are now a group of sought after artists in a little arcade of customized shops. The shop fronts of the market have been built very aesthetically with traditional, carved wood finishings and the little corner is a treat for its colours, fragrance and reasonably priced, great looking flower arrangements selling successfully. These markets have also been established in Islamabad and Karachi. The idea behind making the market was to enable the vendors to sell at a centralized location without having to pay exorbitant shop rents.

The Hashoo Foundation is teaching women from Hunza and Gilgit the craft of beekeeping and hence enabling them to generate income as well as produce pure honey that the group plans to start selling in the market soon.

Concerted efforts like these manifest a company?s understanding that benefiting the eco system is for its own benefit. What we need is more of such examples to fill out huge need gaps in the society. Even little efforts go a long way in restoring the natural balance of our interconnected lives.

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Author Information

Afia is an Associate with Schuitema, a business growth and transformation consultancy based in South Africa. She has also been writing on media, culture and issues of social concern in various publications since a decade.

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