There’s more to business than just profit

All businesses exist to make a profit by providing a certain product or service. However, there is more to a business than just profit generation. According to the King 3 report on good corporate governance, a business has three fundamental areas of focus.  These are; Profit, Planet and People.

The profit area of focus is self-explanatory and has to do with the business’s ability to remain liquid. The planet area of focus deals with the environment and the responsibility of a business to preserve it. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, is the focus area on people. This area of focus deals with a company’s responsibility to its immediate environment, particularly the people who reside in it. It has to do with uplifting the community through giving back in any way or form.

There has been a strong focus by big corporates over the past decade on social responsibility which may have left smaller businesses wondering whether they are required to give back too. There is no requirement, it is a voluntary service provided and is not limited to opt-in based on business size. Businesses of all sizes are able to give back to a charitable cause and thereby uplift their immediate community.

How does one go about it? Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is more than just throwing money at a charitable initiative randomly. It is a committed long-term relationship built around the mission of the business. The first step is to evaluate the business and identify its vision. Once established, align this vision to a suitable charitable organisation. This is followed by appointing a team or individual who will be responsible for fostering a good relationship. Most importantly, the business needs to identify its commitments and make sure that these are realistic and time-bound. Lastly, once implemented, businesses should constantly evaluate the progress of their CSR initiatives and seek to improve on the performance thereof.

To kickstart this seemingly daunting process, a few Cape-based initiatives have been identified below:

BEN (Bicycle Empowerment Network South Africa)

The Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) South Africa was established in Cape Town in 2002. In simple terms, the core mission of BEN is to address poverty and mobility through the promotion of the bicycle in all its forms. The initiative imports used bicycles and distributes it among previously disadvantaged areas along with proper training on bicycle safety and maintenance. Donations to the organisation goes towards the cost of purchasing a bicycle and the related items such as shipping, helmets, tool sets etc. Assistance does not only need to come in the form of monetary donations, it can also be the donation of relevant general cycle items such as used bicycles, helmets and other safety equipment, mountain bike wheelsets as well as bicycle trailers and attachments among others. Should your company have offices across the country, BEN has 17 Bicycling Empowerment Centres around South Africa. Since its inception, the organisation was able to distribute over 12 000 new and used bikes to those who needed it. Moreover, the organisation is able to help address job creation and the access to it.

Ikamva Labantu

Around 30 years ago, Helen Lieberman began a tiny program to help mothers and children after she was exposed to the effects of poverty in her surroundings. The program grew into an organisation and is known as Ikamva Labuntu. The organisation helps thousands of people in need in South Africa through support, information and resources. The main aim of the organisation is to make communities in South Africa self-reliant. To this end, it builds and supports crèches, schools, senior and youth centres, programs for the disabled, skills training and building initiatives. In addition, Ikamva Labantu makes use of the services provided by social workers, occupational therapists, community fieldworkers, nurses and teams of volunteers. In order to continue providing support and upliftment to those who need it, Ikamva Labantu relies on donations received from individuals and organisations. Should the broad and vital cause of this organisation align to yours, you can assist with donations as well as by spreading the word on its existence and initiatives.

Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust

The Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust was founded in 1994 after the Red Cross War Memorial, located in Rondebosch, was near to closing its doors due to a lack of funding. The Trust provides the hospital with funding in order to carry out its various projects ranging from capital, equipment, research and training to funding paediatric healthcare projects outside of the hospital. All of these projects have a major impact on the lives of children in need of care across Southern Africa. There are many ways in which businesses can help the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust. One of the most common, and possibly the most valuable, is the donation of funds – whether it be in their own capacity or through the hosting of a fundraising event. In addition, businesses can also volunteer their time with projects by becoming a Friend of the Children’s Hospital Association.

By actively undertaking CSR initiatives, businesses are not only able to easily build its brand by positively influencing its reputation and raise its public profile, but also attract and retain valuable staff members seeking to make a difference to society. Furthermore, customers and investors are naturally attracted to companies who have a degree of social responsibility and gives them a good reason to support you and your business.