August 13

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Business and NGO partnerships: some insights from International seminar “Business impact on children rights” (Lima, Peru)

I am very thankful to have an opportunity not only to share my knowledge but also to learn a lot during my assignment. Last week there was an international seminar organized in Lima which tackled various topics related with business impact on children rights, NGO and business partnerships, CSR and other. The event took 4 days and there were many great presentations and discussions. I would like to share few insights that I took from this event for myself:

CSR is about eliminating negative impact of business. Before going to assignment I was not so much aware about differences between concepts of CSR and Corporate social Investment (CSI). It was really interesting to learn what the CSI is and that it is not the same as CSR though it is common to call any of the business contribution for the communities a CSR.

Corporate social investment origins from philanthropy as there was seen the positive impact to the reputation of the companies who had initiatives in this area. Terms CSI and CSR are still used interchangeably, but actually they are different.  CSR refers to organizations overall responsibility towards the business environment in which it operates. CSR describes the broader solution to triple-bottom-line matters of the 3Ps – profit, people and planet. CSI is only one of the components of CSR and aims to contribute for the communities to improve their quality of life. CSR involves not only CSI and is closely related to the decision making and the strategy of the core business. It made me think for the moment if all the CSR statements that I have seen in the websites of different companies are really CSR or just CSI initiatives? More than this one more thought I found very important. Usually any kind of activity has internal and external impacts which are both positive and negative. Being socially responsible is actually putting your effort to resolve or compensate these negative impacts (both internal and external). So if the company is starting some CSI initiatives that have a great impact on the community but are not related with the core business of the company is it CSR or more relates to philanthropy or PR? I think the “seed” is planted and these insights raised my interest to learn more about CSR and its impact to sustainability of the business.

The other interesting thought is the opportunity of synergy between business and NGO´s. No one argues these days that business needs to take in account more of social and environmental impact that their activity is resulting in order to maintain sustainability and grow in the future. This is where the NGO´s can be util – in order to better understand business impacts and developing CSR strategies that would be both closely related with the core business and have real ability to resolve the negative impacts of business. At the same time, business is very much result-oriented and has developed significant amount of know –how in terms of efficiency and efficacy.  It is much harder for NGO´s to reach such point due to the limited resources and their nature itself (high importance of the process itself and complicated measurement of efficiency).  So there is a lot of space for win-win partnerships in the future if both parties would start more constructive dialogue and invest more time to better understand each other’s needs and possibilities to collaborate.

Best wishes to everyone!

Ramunas