“I think CSR will cease to exist as something distinct for the core business of brands, and become ingrained in our very DNA, guiding each action of a socially responsible business.” – Bitopi Das Chowdhury, Country Head of Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing, Standard Chartered Bangladesh
How does Standard Chartered view CSR?
For 116 years, we have been providing banking services that help people and companies to succeed, as a result creating wealth, jobs and economic growth. We are committed to promoting economic and social development in Bangladesh and doing so in a sustainable and equitable manner. It is our mission to enable individuals to build a positive future for themselves and their families, while also facilitating their businesses to thrive, and deliver economic prosperity for the wider community. Supporting sustainable and responsible growth, which includes achieving the SDGs, is an integral part of our brand promise.
What motivated you to work to help our communities bounce back from Covid-19?
Standard Chartered is focused on enabling long-term economic recovery while addressing the immediate need to save and sustain lives. To meet the immediate challenges, we realised that we could play a key role in complementing the government’s efforts to provide aid and essentials to the people who were hit hardest by the pandemic. While addressing the immediate needs of the frontline workers is our first priority, we will also work with the long-term vision of co-investing in capacity building, while scoping out, structuring, and financing sustainable investments in healthcare infrastructure.
What other milestone CSR activities has Standard Chartered achieved?
Standard Chartered’s current flagship community programme, Future makers, builds on the legacy of our previous flagship community programme ‘Seeing is Believing, which tackled avoidable blindness. Globally, the project, which started its journey in 2003, has touched the lives of around 150 million people by funding 160 eye care projects in underprivileged communities. Another project close to my heart is our integrated livelihood initiative in partnership with BRAC in the ex-enclave communities in Lalmonirhaat and Kurigram. In 2016, Standard Chartered Bangladesh became the first international bank to begin working with the communities, with a focus on improving the quality of life in vulnerable communities. This was done by promoting literacy, livelihood generation, better hygiene and financial empowerment.
What are your thoughts on the future of CSR in Bangladesh?
Younger consumers are seriously concerned with social and environmental causes. They increasingly back their beliefs with their consumption habits, favouring brands that are aligned with their values. Brands today must not only align their values with that of their customers but also with their employees, and the society at large. In other words, I think CSR will cease to exist as something distinct for the core business of brands, and become ingrained in our very DNA, guiding each action of a socially-responsible business.