Corporate SA Isn’t Seeing A Return On Investment On Their Socio-Economic Spend: Here’s Why!
In a country where the economy is on the decline, and with over 30 million people living in poverty, Corporate Social Investment (CSI) has become a necessity in South Africa. The government has been urging the private sector to play their part in uplifting South Africans who need it most. And while private companies have joined the party with a reported R9,7 billion having been spent on CSI in 2018, it is merely a drop in the ocean when you take into account the R520 billion savings private companies in South Africa had accumulated by mid-2018. One could say that private South Africa simply isn’t doing enough.
But maybe our perspective needs to change. Instead of focusing on the amount of money spent, we need to shift our attention to how their socio-economic budget is spent. Companies operating within our borders may be spending what they think is a ton of money on CSI but not noticing a significant return on investment. The same could be said on the effects Corporate Social Investment has on communities. Up till now, there are very few companies that can confidently say they have made a sustainable change. Often, big corporates spend their money on short-term solutions that don’t bring about long-term change. It seems linking financial value to less tangible outcomes such as long-term community development and bettering the quality of life is a more difficult concept to grasp for corporate SA.
Most companies participate in CSI for compliance and BBB-EE points. But if they really want to make a difference and see a bigger return on investment that correspond with their efforts, then they need to aspire to creating real change. Systems change recognizes that more substantial investment may be required over a longer period and not overnight. Achieving this is only possible through collaboration and partnerships with similar organizations, to make bigger system targeted change instead of small projects. Part of this is encouraging corporate companies to align their socio-economic spend with their business strategy. This will spark a passion that will drive them to invest more time and energy into helping the communities around them. Furthermore, companies need to be selfless in their CSI initiatives. Instead of focusing on the good reputation it will garner, they need to be committed to creating sustainable change. It is only when they look at Corporate Social Investment from a wider perspective that they will achieve a greater return on investment that benefits all stakeholders involved.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
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