Strategic CSR good for business, says Bank Alfalah CEO

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KARACHI: Strategic CSR and philanthropy could improve and enhance the image of business organisations and could also result in greater post-development demand for their products and services in communities they enable and support to improve standards of living, says Sirajuddin Aziz, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bank Alfalah.

Aziz tells CSR PAKISTAN that Investing in higher education is akin to investing in the leaders of tomorrow, an investment that will always bring high returns and many benefits in the years to come. Education and healthcare remain neglected in many parts of Pakistan due to insufficient public sector development programmes. Public sector spending on education amounts to a meagre two per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 19 per cent of the population is malnourished, and total healthcare spending is only four per cent of the GDP. The responsibility for developing these crucial sectors – the backbone of future socio-economic progress of the country – lies with the corporate sector.

“Pakistan is a nation that spends seven times more on arms than on schools. It has one of the world’s largest out-of-school population. The efforts for achieving our development goals are insufficient in comparison to the development gaps. Businesses and industries need to take more CSR initiatives and share the responsibility of improving the lives of a vast segment of our nation. This presents the corporate sector with a plethora of opportunities to gain strategic advantages through their CSR programmes,” says Aziz.

Strategic CSR and philanthropy could generate and channel more funds into community uplift projects, as well as bring benefits for shareholders. Community development and charity projects that mobilise the willing, energetic and educated youth of Pakistan and empower them to promote development causes, have the potential to tackle poverty alleviation, healthcare, education, child labour and other pressing development challenges at the grassroots level. The corporate sector needs to explore these avenues and look beyond cause-related marketing.

“Businesses and industries have the resources, knowledge, outreach and scale of operations essential for development in critical areas. They have the international exposure to take Pakistan’s development challenges to a global level and engage philanthropic circles around the world. We do not intend to belittle the corporate sector’s CSR efforts thus far. Private organisations have taken up crucial developmental roles. However, there is still a long way to go and new avenues of CSR and corporate philanthropy need to be explored,” Aziz says.

(Sourced from http://www.csrpk.com/)

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