Leading health insurance company partners with Fiinovation

 A leading private sector health insurance company in India entered into a strategic partnership with Fiinovation, a top Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consulting firm, and Pinnacle Skills India, an NGO that works towards empowering youth through skill development and education.
The programme’s key objective is to provide skill development opportunities to women from financially disadvantaged communities in 36 districts across 8 states of India Under this collaboration, Fiinovation and Pinnacle Skills will extend their services to facilitate the corporation’s social welfare project for training the youth to take up the roles of General Duty Assistants (GDA).
The project’s mandate includes community mobilisation through awareness activities, setting-up training centres for skill development, and ensuring employment opportunities. The complete CSR portfolio will be managed and monitored by Fiinovation. Pinnacle Skills India took the responsibility to arrange for ‘On-Job Training’ of the beneficiaries, in hospitals, and multi-speciality clinics.
Upon completion of the training, the beneficiaries will be duly assessed and issued certificates by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Sector Skill Council and provided with job placements as GDAs.
Speaking on the launch, Dr. Soumitro Chakraborty, CEO, Fiinovation stressed on the need and importance of women empowerment and their skill development. He stated, “There is a serious decline in women workforce participation due to lack of opportunities, safety and other social stigmas. We want to contribute towards making a social and economic change.”
“Percentage of working women has declined over time. With 36% of women being employed in 2005-06, the number has decreased to 24% in 2015-16. This decline must be a major concern for economy and society at large. Owing to the high gender inequality at the workplace, there is an urgent need that calls for an overhaul. It goes without saying that we need to shift focus towards education, skill development and employment opportunities for women, more aggressively than before. Our society has to adapt and let them take their rightful positions, which they deserve. For the greater good, if more women become part of the paid labour force, it will help raise India’s GDP by an additional 18% by 2025,” Dr. Chakraborty added.
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Breach of CSR provision and its consequences

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility has evolved through various phases in India. Traditionally, the CSR initiatives were deeply ingrained by family values and traditions. The businesses followed the concept of charity and focused on benefiting the employees and their families or setting up educational and healthcare institutions. Gradually, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility transformed and changed business perspectives.

Businesses incorporated the concept of shared value proposition and corporate sustainability in their DNA and realised their responsibility towards communities within which they operate. Partnerships between a business corporation and social action groups in providing financial and other resources to support development plans, especially among disadvantaged communities are formed.

India became the first country to mandate Corporate Social Responsibility under Schedule VII, Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013. Under the Schedule, the companies are mandated to spend a minimum of 2% of their net profit for social development such as sanitation, education, eradication of hunger, poverty and malnutrition, conservation of heritage, art and culture and vocational training. After the mandate, although few companies continued to do social good with much enthusiasm, leeways in the CSR provisions and lack of effective monitoring brought into limelight instances of CSR Complaint and forged CSR reporting by reputed corporates.

To strengthen the laws governing CSR under the Companies Act 2013, the Government of India has amended the Companies Act, 2013. The new Companies Act  Amendment bill 2019 was passed in both the Houses of Parliament, and past President’s approval on the 31st of July, it became an Act within Section 135. Until now, if a company failed to utilise the CSR expenditure in a given year, the Board members had to specify the reasons for not spending the amount in the CSR report. Therefore, it was comply or explain. Under Section 135 (5): Board will have to spend at least 2% in every financial year. If not spent, they will have to report and specify the reasons for not spending the amount.

After the amendment, every company is now entitled to explain the expenditure on CSR. If the amount is unspent during the one year window, the companies will have to transfer the money they fail to spend in that year to an “unspent Corporate Social Responsibility account”, from which they can draw within the next 3 years to spend on CSR activities. This transfer has to be done within 30 days of completion of the financial year, wherein the money was supposed to be spent. This special account has to be opened in a scheduled bank. If a company is still unable to spend the amount within that period of 3 years, it can transfer it to a Govt fund specified in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, such as the PM’s National Relief Fund, within a period of 30 days of the 3rd financial year-end, failing which fines and imprisonment clauses will kick in.

The Amendment states that “if a company contravenes the provisions of sub-section (5) and (6) of Section 135, the Company shall be liable for fine, which is between Rs 50,000 to Rs 25 lakh. Officer of such company who is in default is liable for 3 years imprisonment or a fine between Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh, or both.

Though the new amendment seem harsh for many small businesses and MSMEs who already suffer from human resource constraint, large corporates will now proactively ensure compliance with CSR requirements and pay more adherence to the deployment of CSR Funds. Further, companies will now be encouraged to spend the unspent amount sensibly, instead of rushing it on one financial year.

Written By Team Fiinovation

Fiinovation Assisting Corporations and NGOs in Natural Resource Conservation Projects

Fiinovation is committed towards conservation of the natural resources from the last eight years. This year, understanding the need of promoting water conservation, rainwater harvesting and plantation, Fiinovation through its CSR-CSO Partnership practice assisted Uflex and Aroh Foundation in implementation of CSR initiatives in the national capital region. The project will be carried out for the next three years where the capacity of the local communities will be build to conserve and optimize the natural resource base.

The project is being funded by Uflex which is one of the largest flexible packaging company in India. Aroh Foundation is engaged in implementation of the project and have been chosen for the same after thorough scrutiny of credibility and previous experience of similar projects.

The Uflex project is being implemented in two villages of Gautam Budhha Nagar and is estimated to benefit more than 400 farmers. The project will involve construction of in-situ and ex-situ rainwater harvesting structures to address the water scarcity concerns of the people. Aroh Foundation is known for their work in the social development and environment restoration and will help the farmers build field bunds and farm ponds to arrest rain water. The project will also include organic and inorganic mulching to protect the degrading top soil and plantation drive.

Other aspect of the project is the horticulture production which shall be grown in the community and individually owned land. The specific activities will be beneficial for the livestock also due to availability of fodder all year round in the implementation area. The farmers will also benefit from the plants bearing fruits.

Fiinovation expects that the project will increase the ground water levels due to increased percolation and therefore, there will be better availability of water for domestic and agricultural use. There are plans for implementation of similar water conservation projects across India, especially the drought hit regions. Today, such initiatives are not only beneficial for the farmers but has become a necessity. It is inspiring to see corporations such as Uflex investing their CSR funds towards environment conservation and sustainable development.

Let us hope that through the water conservation projects, India will be able to resolve the water crisis in  future. Fiinovation urge corporations to focus on partnerships for implementation of similar CSR initiatives.

Why is Monitoring and Evaluation Important for your CSR Project?

What Does Monitoring and Evaluation Mean?

Monitoring is a routine and systematic value of any component part of an organization collection of information against a plan. The information might be about activities, products or services ,users, or about outside factors affecting the organization or project.

Evaluation is about making judgments about the value of any component part of an organization or its products, services or benefit, or about the organization as a whole.

Organizations use monitoring and evaluation for two key purposes:

  • To learn about their own activities and results, and to support internal planning and development.
  • To be accountable to their stakeholders.

Organizations need evidence of their efficiency and effectiveness for funders, commissioners and investors. They also need to communicate achievements to a wider public. Charities are now specific required to report the achievements of the charity over the year. However, the role of monitoring and evaluation is providing learning and improving the organization is of equal importance.

M&E Framework in the Project Program Cycle

Graph2-1

Role of government in Corporate Social Responsibility in India

Corporate Social Responsibility in India has become increasingly popular. Corporates under the CSR Policy in India have started to realise the importance of social good and its impact on the social, economic and environmental development. The evolution of CSR in India has made sweeping changes in the corporate governance system of the country and indicates the intention of the government to move from control and place the onus on the management of the company.

The 2013 Act, significantly changed the way companies function. Before the mandate of CSR policy in India, CSR was merely a concept of charity carried out by businesses and philanthropists with strong religious sentiments. Corporate Governance was deeply influenced by family values, traditions, culture and religion and also by industrialization. The wealth of businesses were spent on setting up religious, educational and health care institutions. The Impact of CSR on the society in India was difficult to access.

It was after the mandate of Companies Act, the govt formulated laws and enforced corporates under the companies act to spent towards socio-economic and environmental initiatives. With the legislative mandate, the contributions of companies in this direction are now becoming more streamlined. The framework laid down under the Section 135 along with rules therein, the CSR mandate under the Act is an attempt to incorporate Company innovations in technology, expertise and knowledge for the social development of the country. CSR initiatives undertaken by companies are expected to provide innovative solutions to the social, economic and environmental challenges.

With the involvement of the Government, various methods to implement better CSR Practices within the private sphere was generated. The Government raised awareness and build capacities for CSR among various companies and stakeholders which implies an important role due to the largest voluntary nature of CSR. Govt provides important information to the private sector through initiatives through its websites that inform companies of CSR and its role in business and society. CSR Reports and Govt-Sponsored guidelines help businesses in addressing individual concerns that may be prevalent within their industry and practices.

In order to seek clarity or gain insight into prevalent issues and how to solve them, the corporates can refer to the online resources of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Indian govt is also involved in standard-setting through the provision of policy frameworks, which encourage companies to improve their performance beyond the minimum legal standards. In order to promote the development of the sector through CSR initiatives, the govt drafts CSR policies and regulations for various industries at the National level, encouraging strict monitoring of the law.

In order to improve the national CSR standards within businesses, an effective partnership between govt and the private sector is considered one of the effective ways. With the laying down of minimum CSR standards and encouraging companies to reach beyond the minimum threshold, Govt involvement can ensure that social objectives are followed through and CSR initiatives are carried out to an appropriate standard.

The major objective of CSR is not only to serve the economic, but also social and environmental objectives of a CSR intervention. In order to achieve the maximum results from an intervention, coherent efforts between govt and business are required to promote the objective and bring improvement in CSR practices.

How CSR Audit can help the corporations to assess the impact of CSR project?

Impact Assessment (IA) is a vital component to assess and analyse the effect of the project activities in the lives of the beneficiaries. It enables the organisations realise the relevant economic, social and environmental impact of a project. The practice precisely focuses on learning and analysis.

If we talk specifically about Fiinovation CSR Services,we work on various steps of a CSR Project .

1.Partnership Management

2.Policy Design

3.Monitoring & Evaluation

4.Impact Assessment.

5.CSR-CSO Partnership

6.Social Return on Investment

Fiinovation Company is based out of New delhi and operating since 2008.

Our approach of embedding common indicators of impact assessment and economic valuation has set us apart in the sector and has created a unique niche for us. Throughout the IA process, it’s important to employ the realistic methods and tools depending on the project, its vision & mission, output/outcome of the programme, Monitoring reports, Evaluation reports and any other documents available.


Fiinovation Pvt. Ltd also helps in the development of an indicator matrix which allows recommending sustainability - mapping which is followed by a well-drafted Impact Assessment Report.

The Impact Assessment process at our organisation include the below steps, while it may vary at different firms, but our Fiinovation Reviews & uses the most practical and tested methods.

1. Review of intervention and the planning process

2. Dedicated consultations with targeted stakeholders

3. Thorough Area exploration

4. Rigorous consultation with various departments within the organisation

5. Analysis of findings and data collation

6. Summary and presentation of findings of the IA report

7. Forwarding IA findings to the Board

8. Publication of the IA report (as per partner's requirement)

Fiinovation Assisting Corporations and NGOs in Natural Resource Conservation Projects

Fiinovation is committed towards conservation of the natural resources from the last eight years. This year, understanding the need of promoting water conservation, rainwater harvesting and plantation, Fiinovation through its CSR-CSO Partnership practice assisted Uflex and Aroh Foundation in implementation of CSR initiatives in the national capital region. The project will be carried out for the next three years where the capacity of the local communities will be build to conserve and optimize the natural resource base.

The project is being funded by Uflex which is one of the largest flexible packaging company in India. Aroh Foundation is engaged in implementation of the project and have been chosen for the same after thorough scrutiny of credibility and previous experience of similar projects.

 

The Uflex project is being implemented in two villages of Gautam Budhha Nagar and is estimated to benefit more than 400 farmers. The project will involve construction of in-situ and ex-situ rainwater harvesting structures to address the water scarcity concerns of the people. Aroh Foundation is known for their work in the social development and environment restoration and will help the farmers build field bunds and farm ponds to arrest rain water. The project will also include organic and inorganic mulching to protect the degrading top soil and plantation drive.

 

Other aspect of the project is the horticulture production which shall be grown in the community and individually owned land. The specific activities will be beneficial for the livestock also due to availability of fodder all year round in the implementation area. The farmers will also benefit from the plants bearing fruits.

 

Fiinovation expects that the project will increase the ground water levels due to increased percolation and therefore, there will be better availability of water for domestic and agricultural use. There are plans for implementation of similar water conservation projects across India, especially the drought hit regions. Today, such initiatives are not only beneficial for the farmers but has become a necessity. It is inspiring to see corporations such as Uflex investing their CSR funds towards environment conservation and sustainable development.

 

Let us hope that through the water conservation projects, India will be able to resolve the water crisis in  future. Fiinovation urge corporations to focus on partnerships for implementation of similar CSR initiatives.

Fiinovation – Fighting Climate Change with Education

After watching the movie Ice Age III, my daughter started asking all sorts of questions like the reason behind climate change, impact of global warming, measures to reduce the impact and so on. Unfortunately, I also didn’t have the answers to many of her questions. Our children hear a lot about climate change through media, but it is largely absent from school science curricula and therefore, they have no credible outlet to ask their own questions.

All of us know that children are among the most vulnerable to climate change. Its direct impact can be seen on the educational provisions with increasing frequency of extreme weather conditions like flooding, cyclones, storms, heat waves and drought. Over the time, gradual environmental changes such as rise in the sea level, salination, changes in season patterns, desertification, soil erosion, etc. are also deteriorating the livelihoods, and reduce household incomes and eventually, forcing parents to send their children to work to support the family rather than school.

Fiinovation is a research organization working on addressing climate change and it believes that it is the biggest challenge of our time and need to be taken very seriously. It is the burning issue of discussion in various conferences and meetings around the world. As a result, majority of research studies on education and climate change have been focusing on the impact of climate and its associated environmental changes on schooling. However, the debates and arguments continue to emphasize on technical solutions or ‘knowledge transfer’ but ironically, without involving with education.

Realizing the seriousness of the issue and its impact on children, Fiinovation started exploring the connection between climate change and education. Why I am emphasizing on education of children is because children have enormous potential to assimilate knowledge and they are the disseminators at home and in the neighbourhood. I think it is high time that Corporations too should think about the serious investment plans in the sustainable development of our country.

The need of the hour is to be proactive and give every opportunity to our children to learn and observe the effects of a changing climate with innovative technological based applications .We may invest for the sustainable development of our planet and allow our children to shape the world that soon will be theirs.

Dr. Seema Pawar

Fiinovation

Fiinovation Reviews the Concepts of CSR and Sustainability

Although the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability go hand in hand, there exists a thin line of difference between the two that makes it imperative to distinguish one from the other.

CSR is basically the responsibility of the corporations to give back to the society in which they operate. While concept of sustainability focuses on utilization of resources without compromising the needs of the present and future generations.

Both the concept can cater to reduction of pollution, water scarcity, preserving the environment etc. Yet, as per the concept all corporate social responsibility activities need not be sustainable. However, there are many of the view that catering to any sustainability issue is already a responsible act.

Although the concept of corporate social responsibility with respect to the Companies Act, 2013 is a bit different from what is perceived in the west. In India that activities that comprises CSR are listed under Schedule VII. Therefore, a clear distinction has been made between corporate social responsibility and other activities.

Now if a company considering energy efficiency as part of sustainability then that would not be considered as CSR in India. An expert suggests sustainability more as a mandatory requirement, sustainability is perceived as a business specific approach that benefits the business itself in the long run.

Fiinovation reviews that corporate social responsibility and sustainability although sound synonymous but pertain to and influence different groups of the society. The politicians or the government at large is more concerned with the actions of the businesses with regards to their CSR.  Driven by compliance, CSR is quite debatable a topic on the other hand sustainability is actually driven by responsibility to work towards preserving the environment and achieving sustainable growth.

Fiinovation understands that many companies like Reliance, TATA, HCl are taking initiatives to provide education to underprivileged children like the Shiv Nadar foundation is helping thousands of children to achieve a better future through their numerous schools. Similarly many companies such as Nestle, Phillips, and Tata etc are working towards becoming 100 per cent renewable company.

Fiinovation believes that the above discussion does reflect on the differences between the two concepts but the reality is that neither of the two can exist in isolation of the other. Both CSR and sustainability operate in symbiotic relationship with each other. One cannot become a sustainable company without respecting social and environmental norms. A CSR initiative lacking the sustainable view is a half hearted effort on the side of the corporate, merely designed to spend the allocated funds to comply with legal requirements. It’s when sustainability is brought into the ambit of social responsibility there occurs a paradigm change.

Fiinovation understands that both the concepts might overlap each other at some point but it is important to understand the distinction between them.

Written By – Kshitij Gupta

Published By – Fiinovation

Fiinovation Reviews – CSR Expectations in the Financial Year 2016-17

Fiinovation comprehends the growing CSR initiatives by corporates both private and public have placed a number of expectations to be met in in the fiscal year 2016-2017. Introduction of legislations have penetrated the framework of businesses and audit of the CSR initiatives has made the entire process a lot more transparent. All these factors have given a momentum to the CSR initiatives of both the private companies as well as public ones. Here are a few expectations form the CSR initiatives of companies in the year 2016-17:

  • Employment Opportunities – As recognized by the Finance Minister, this area is one the crucial ones and needs to be focused on an urgent basis. It is therefore expected that a combined effort of both the PSU and private sector companies will elevate the employment rate in the country. Fiinovation believes the companies through their CSR livelihood projects can definitely improve the skills of the communities and also create employment opportunities.
  • Cleaner Environment – The success of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has prompted the necessity of taking it to a higher level this year. The funds accumulated in the Swachh Bharat Kosh last year with the help of corporates contributing under their CSR initiative were around 42.6 crores. The number is expected to increase substantially this year. The government is urging companies to invest more on environment initiatives.
  • Employment Creation – The “Make in India” campaign is likely to see a number of startup cropping up this year that will provide gainful employment to a plethora of unemployed youth. The Kaushal Vikas Yojna focused towards the same issue of unemployment is expected to see a substantial contribution from corporates. Companies can also connect their CSR initiatives with Make in India which can generate employment. In addition this there is also an expected increase in the funding of SMEs by big corporates as compared to last year.
  • Rural Economy – Both private and public sector recognizes that the need for development of infrastructure in the rural economies and therefore the CSR activities will be centered around the model of uplifting the same. Efforts are expected to be channelized in the areas of micro irrigation and finance. Educating the people in the field of finance will provide a ready pool of skilled force that can be provided gainful employment in the banking, insurance and microfinance sectors. Companies like HDFC are moving in this direction of sustainable growth and are expected generate substantial employment and infrastructural development in the rural sector in alignment with the goals of the union government.
  • Education – It is likely that education which has been a major area of CSR investments will continue to remain one of the top most priorities of the companies. There are chances that few companies will contribute towards higher education and research. Fiinovation believes that quality of education will also be an area of focus.

Therefore, Fiinovation understands that in the future CSR activities will be more strategic as predicted by analysing the current trends. Even if these estimations do not fall in place at the end of the year, CSR audit provides enough assurance to the community at large.

Written By – Kshitij Gupta

Published By – Fiinovation