The idea of CSR is still at a preliminary level in Bangladesh. A mindset of CSR practice centred on philanthropic activities is one of the biggest challenges we often face.” – S.M. Nazmul Ahsan Sarup, Senior Manager – CSR, Epyllion Group
What challenges did you face while working with CSR in communities around Bangladesh?
The idea of CSR is still at a preliminary level in Bangladesh. The mindset around CSR is still associated with philanthropic activities, and this is one of the biggest challenges. Absence of business models with social concerns at its core in CSR programmes is the main obstacles to creating a sustainable impact. When a CSR project targets a community, the biggest challenge is to understand their perspective. Additionally, most CSR projects undertaken by corporates remain unapproved and unexecuted due to a lack of engagement and involvement with government and non-government organisations.
How can other sectors (government, media, non-profits, etc.) help companies create more effective changes within our communities?
At present, we are facing unprecedented problems in terms of the environment, healthcare, and on economic fronts. We have failed to solve problems like poverty and climate change by investing in ineffective endeavours. When we think of solving a socio-economic problem in, we usually rely on government and non-government organisations to come forward and take the initiative. Business entities are usually left out of the discussion around solving socio-economic crises. Stakeholders should understand that the ability of the corporate sector to create sustainable profit will also help in creating sustainable models for socio-economic development.
What are your thoughts on the future of CSR in Bangladesh?
Thanks to the fourth industrial revolution, CSR will play a vital role in business sustainability. According to past industrial revolutions, we can see that environmental and social welfare were neglected, which has costs us significantly in terms of environmental sustainability and establishing a welfare economy. The benefits of our economy has yet to reach the masses. In the long run, our investment will be worthless if we cannot solve the issue of environmental degradation and poverty. Fortunately, now we are taking into consideration the cost to the environment and society when developing our businesses. From that perspective, we can say that in the near future, we will integrate CSR as a part of the core business and as part of a profit-making mechanism that also solves socio-economic problems in the long run.