CBI
CBI
Pakistan

CSR: less corporate than it sounds

According to CBI senior programme manager Don van Luijn (left), implementing CSR in developing countries starts by making work processes more efficient and environmentally friendly and ensuring that workers are treated properly and fairly. “Together with SIMAP (Surgical Instrument Manufacturers Association) we are helping Pakistani SMEs meet international standards and in the certification process, which is both a cornerstone of CSR and a precondition for further progress.”

Pakistan

The implementation of CSR entails looking beyond the product. In Pakistan this often means making sure factories are clean and safe and that working conditions are good. These may not be visible in the end-product, but European importers are more likely to consider them necessary. Little things can make a huge difference, explains Van Luijn. During a CBI visit he met a Pakistani entrepreneur who was wasting hundreds of litres of cooling water every year, instead of reusing it. “Entrepreneurs will understand production improvements that increase efficiency and lower costs, but to make a CSR policy sustainable it must become a priority for entrepreneurs themselves.”

Pakistan

Bart Slob, CSR programme manager at CBI, says CSR is essential for SMEs in developing countries. A problem is that European importers usually go for the lowest price, which puts Pakistani entrepreneurs under enormous pressure to be both competitive and CSR compliant. The key is what happens backstage, in exporting companies and their suppliers. “What’s the point of successfully implementing a CSR policy if your suppliers still use child labour? Full CSR penetration calls for a trickle-down approach: if one company embraces CSR the rest will follow. But they need a little push.”

Adding value

CSR is a crucial part of the training that CBI gives Pakistani SMEs, says Slob. It has many levels, but we must work from the bottom up. “If done correctly, CSR will improve companies’ competitiveness and help them enter the European market. It will become a tool for adding value to their products.”

Pakistan

Making CSR an important focus point in Pakistan takes time. At the start of 2013 CBI held a two-day CSR workshop and, together with NPO (National Productivity Organisation of Pakistan), made further plans to help 18 Pakistani companies improve their CSR policies. “CBI can help companies in developing countries improve and make a difference in the area of CSR, but when all is said and done it’s the companies themselves that have to make that difference.”

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