“Commitment is the key to our success in CSR”
Deepak Iyer, Managing Director, Mondelez India, shares an insight into the company's CSR journey and the future roadmap.
Both the company and the community benefit from CSR initiatives. Do you subscribe to this?
At Mondelez International, we understand the intrinsic link between a company, the community in which we operate and the environment. Our path to create a positive impact begins by collaborating with communities the world over. Impact for Growth is our Global commitment to driving business growth, while bringing a positive change in the world. We empower the well-being of our colleagues, communities, farmers and consumers while making smart and sustainable use of natural resources to reduce our environmental footprint.
What are the key focus areas for your company's CSR?
Mondelez India has been driving positive change for over 50 years since 1965 through our partnerships with farmers to grow and harvest cocoa in the four southern states of India. Cocoa Life has transformed and impacted the lives of 100,000 Indian farmers in five key ways i.e. transforming farming, transforming communities, transforming youth, transforming livelihoods and transforming the environment. This journey continues to create a vibrant, strong cocoa supply chain while transforming the lives of farmers and communities.
In 2013, the company supported by the Mondelez International Foundation, started the 'Shubh Aarambh' programme and invested across seven states in India to undertake programmes focused on nutrition education, promoting active play and sports and encouraging growth of fresh foods - targeting the physical, emotional and social development of children between the ages of 7-14 years. As part of the programme we also work in our communities to provide safe drinking water including building pipelines, RO plants and hand pumps. As an environmentally responsible company, we have reduced our environment impact by decreasing our carbon, water and waste footprint by building greater efficiencies, adopting cleaner energy and undertaking environment greening projects around our manufacturing operations.
What is your company's CSR implementation method ?
The core 'Shubh Aarambh' programme is a three-way partnership between the company, and partner NGOs -Save the Children and Magic Bus. The partners deliver the programme on ground through local NGOs and directly. In addition, we partner with AFPRO to deliver our water and environment initiatives. The entire programme is centrally monitored by a team in our head office and overseen locally by our volunteers called Joy Ambassadors. This engages and encourages ownership by local teams in the on-ground activities.
What is your CSR team's strength?
One of our core values at Mondelez International is 'lead from the head and heart'. Our team both at our head office and at the local ground level certainly embodies this value. Partnering with our NGOs, we are able to plan, execute and deliver a large, multi-pronged programme; showcases the passion and commitment of the team. The team has done a wonderful job in bringing in relevance to our programme on ground, meeting the real needs of the communities, while keeping in mind our national targets.
What is your opinion of the current phase of CSR in India? What are the main challenges that the field is facing?
Companies in India have been partnering with communities and driving programmes for decades, but the biggest shift has happened with the introduction of the 2 percent CSR Law. The law encourages companies and new entrants to focus and streamline investments based on the identified needs of the country. This is a game changer, which will lead to more strategized investments for the most vulnerable sections of society and for key issues. A few large and dedicated NGOs have been leading the sector, but now many new and smaller NGOs have got the opportunity to scale up and lead programs especially in very remote location of the country. This is helping communities which were once beyond reach.
The real challenge is the ethical management of the sudden and large investments coming in and the execution capabilities for large projects. To address this companies and NGOs need to come together to proactively work towards an enabling environment, training, systems and processes to manage funds as well as projects for the greatest impact at minimal administrative costs.