CSR projects at Samhita
Samhita Social Ventures has worked on a large spectrum of projects with diverse mandates. Our cause-agnostic approach and emphasis on social impact drives our ability to design programs that fulfill our client’s mandate and deliver maximum social benefits on ground.
Below is a list of different kinds of projects we have undertaken. These examples reflect the fact that effective CSR is not just limited to large-sized companies with substantial budgets. Several medium and small-scale companies have also found ways to benefit communities through their niche service offerings and products.
Impact assessment for a reputed foreign bank
Samhita, in partnership with TISS, led an assessment study to measure and evaluate the impact of a global financial literacy program implemented in India by an international bank. Our involvement covered a range of research functions, starting with designing a methodology, sampling, on-ground data collection, data cleaning and analysis, report writing and recommending improvements. Findings from this research study were utilized to contextualize and improve the delivery of the financial literacy program in India and set up systems for an integrated impact assessment within the delivery process.
Implementing effective waste disposal
Samhita is also working on the sustainability of the project by engaging the local communities and commercial complexes in the vicinity to streamline waste disposal systems beyond the company offices. The return of investment through recyclable products and by-products will help in revenue generation, increase in awareness levels for the stakeholders and directly affect the lifestyles at the BoP.
Developing and implementing CSR strategy
A multinational shipping company, with several companies and brands operating under them, approached us to develop a group-level CSR strategy. This strategy was to be designed to adhere to the global sustainability mandate as well as involve company-level CSR initiatives already being implemented.
Through our streamlined process of mapping stakeholders and causes, pointing towards current and potential regulatory mandates and suggesting a governance structure and framework for allocation of resources, Samhita put together a framework for the client to develop a CSR Policy. This group-level policy definition has led to individual companies under the group approaching us for implementation of their respective CSR strategies.
We are now working with these companies to design unique programs for their key stakeholders, define strategies to implement these programs and support on-the-ground implementation of selected programs.
Community needs assessment for power company
Our work with Powerica, a power generation company, involved conducting a community needs assessment at four villages around two sites in Tamil Nadu. Samhita undertook a gamut of activities from identifying needs of internal stakeholders to aligning them with the priorities identified by the community. The methodology adopted was qualitative, conducting interviews with key stakeholders within the company and also with authorities in the village (sarpanch, asha worker, anganwadi workers and the local doctor) and group discussions with villagers. As an outcome of this project, the company was able to identify compulsory education as a cause that was important to the community and also aligned with their internal expectations.
Designing employee engagement programs
Employee engagement is one dimension of CSR that has seen a huge pick-up in the last few years. Companies have begun to realize that one of the key ways to firmly entrench company values and build employee loyalty is to provide them with experiences that go beyond their regular deliverables and job descriptions.
For our client in the finance sector, the mandate was to work with NGOs in the education and livelihood spaces and we helped them identify the right set of partners and build synergies and checkpoints for both parties to effectively execute the CSR program. The employees volunteered to support the organization’s ongoing activities. For our client in the technology service arena, the mandate was to start a program with a set of high-potential employees and open them up to life-changing experiences and leadership opportunities that they could then bring back to their work and teams. Besides enhancing their skills in their core functional areas, the client wanted its employees to be seen as role models in society.
In this space, we are also working with another client that is a diversified conglomerate with businesses that include healthcare, life sciences, pharmaceutical, information management, manufacturing and real estate, thus having a very diverse employee skill set. The client also has a well-established CSR program with initiatives in healthcare, clean drinking water, education and rural employment sectors. The mandate Samhita has is to define an employee engagement strategy to design programs and governance structures to utilize employees’ skills from the group company to help support the CSR program initiatives, thus providing a platform for meaningful employee engagement in CSR, fulfilling the company’s goals of imbibing corporate values into employees, while giving them a sense of creating impact on the society.
Creating partnerships to test new technologies at grassroots
Our client, is a mobile technology company that provides strategic consulting and end-to-end solutions in application development for a variety of platforms. The Company had developed a technology solution that would enable organizations to collect, transfer and analyze a large amount data using low cost mobile phones in real time. The Company approached Samhita to help them select two NGO partners to whom they could donate this customized application. Samhita identified 45 potential NGO partners and worked with the Company to select two NGOs partners that had a large field level workforce that could optimally benefit from the grant. The grant included a customized mobile based application that met the NGOs’ needs, training for the NGOs’ staff, a website to view, analyze and extract data and support for 6 months.
This engagement was a prime example of how Samhita can help companies align their CSR activities with their underlying business. Our client’s donation helped them test and improve a new product, provided a critical solution to NGOs that significantly improved their efficiency and reduced program costs, thereby benefiting the communities that the NGO served.
Event-based fundraising for NGOs and causes
The founder of Schitzengiggles, a stand-up comedy group, approached Samhita Social Ventures for information on NGOs to whom they could offer their comedy shows for free. This resulted in an innovative program that organized stand-up comedy shows for various NGOs to use as fundraisers.
The CEO of The Bombay Store (TBS) also offered the store’s 100-seater space to host an event. The Bombay Store, India’s first contemporary lifestyle retail store with 12 outlets, was in the process of looking for ways to liven up its store space in South Mumbai through fun, interesting events that could draw new people and engage their existing customers.
Samhita has facilitated several events at TBS – music performances by children, a showcase of a socially-themed cookbook, stand-up comedy fundraisers, and an awareness event on the issue of child sexual abuse.
The advantages for TBS included substantial goodwill, press coverage, social media posts, visibility among potential customers and sale of products.