Helping Low-Income Communities Develop Resilience and Mitigate Risks Through Partnerships and Technology
Swati Jetli, Senior Corporate Volunteering Manager & Vice President at Swiss Re Foundation spoke to Rusen Kumar about the Swiss Re GBS India’s vision and key initiatives to build resilient societies among communities. Swiss Re GBS India partners with various NGOs and runs a skill based corporate volunteering and social leadership development program called Shine.
Through this interview, Swati deliberates on their aim to help low-income communities to develop the capacity to mitigate health, environmental and economic risks by nurturing long-term partnerships with like-minded charities and social entrepreneurs. She firmly believes technology & social innovation are strong enablers of social change in addressing disparate challenges at the grassroot level.
What is Swiss Re GBS India’s vision behind its CSR initiatives?
We believe in creating a purpose-driven ecosystem. Living up to our core vision of building resilient societies, all our initiatives under ‘GivingSwissRe’ are focused on natural hazards and climate risk management, access to health and quality education. Through these initiatives, we offer our partners tailored grant financing, access to expertise, capacity building and collaborative networks to create lasting impacts at scale. Furthermore, as a part of Swiss Re GBS India’s annual campaign, we partner with various NGOs and social entrepreneurs to drive change by encouraging a culture of service and volunteerism across our internal stakeholders.
How is Swiss Re GBS building resilient communities? Please describe the impact?
To realize Swiss Re GBS India’s vision, every year, we partner with various NGOs to support their high impact projects addressing challenges in our focus areas. . Under the NGO of the Year program, we engage with our employees to select a non-profit organization, which will be their NGO of the Year. The most preferred organization & their project receives a grant from the Swiss Re Foundation to create a difference in the society and employees are invited to volunteer for them on community days.
Working with multiple NGOs, we have been able to successfully create the following impact:
Supported Enable India in the Swashakthi Program, providing rural livelihoods for People with disabilities (PWDs) through ecosystem by creating 11 Garv Se centers for micro-entrepreneurship development. Supporting Akshaya Patra in providing mid-day meals daily for twelve months to 2100 government school children in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Supporting United Way of Bengaluru in installing 50 percolation wells in BBMP parks that impacts 15000 local population in Bangalore to address ground water shortage. Led NASSCOM Bangalore GCC chapter led Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) Project along with Forward Foundation that empowers 38 government schools with rainwater harvesting capabilities impacting 24,000 children. Collaborated with Bangalore Round Table India to distribute health and hygiene kits to 850 school children.
How does Swiss Re GBS India engage its employees in these activities?
In all our community initiatives, our employees form an important contributor. We are committed to leveraging knowledge, networks, and time of our employees through corporate volunteering by offering our colleagues volunteering programs that are relatable & meaningful. We offer them opportunities to engage with communities and help them become more resilient with diverse ways of giving back. In 2022, we have achieved in engaging more than 25% of Swiss Re GBS India workforce in volunteering and giving activities. For instance, 245 employees from Swiss Re GBS India participated in a 5km charity run organized by The Swiss Re Foundation in collaboration with The Akshaya Patra Foundation ensuring midday meals for under-privileged 245 kids for an entire year.
Tell us about Shine Program.
In partnership with the Swiss Re Foundation, Swiss Re GBS India runs a skill based corporate volunteering and social leadership development program called Shine. Through this program, a team of 8 handpicked Swiss Re GBS India employees’ team up with a promising early-stage social entrepreneur to help them with their business challenges and come up with a scalable business plan. The purpose is to articulate the value proposition and last mile impact for all concerned stakeholders. Together, they go through a structured and immersive six-month long learning journey, guided by business and leadership coaches.
The key objectives of the program are as follows:
Society/environment: Benefit the target underserved community or environment in line with our focus impact areas.
Social entrepreneur: Help them achieve their impact vision by making the skills & expertise of Swiss Re employees available to them for a period of six months, in addition to gaining a grant of up to INR20L.
Swiss Re employees: Develop purpose driven leaders by giving them entrepreneurial exposure in a social context.
So far, we have collaborated with Pure Paani, Bee Basket, SunBird Straws, HydroGreens and Carbon Craft Design in India. Each of them contributes to a broader objective of transformation to net-zero while creating inclusive income opportunities. Over the past 2 years, given its success in India, we’ve scaled Shine’s impact footprint in four other countries with Swiss Re offices.
What are Swiss Re GBS India’s plans for the next 5 years?
Our recent recognition for Excellence in Community Impact by SHRM has given us a strong validation that we are on the right track. We will continue to strengthen our social programmes that create scalable and meaningful impact to help low-income communities develop capacity to mitigate health, environmental and economic risks by nurturing long-term partnerships with like-minded charities and social entrepreneurs. We will continue to support like-minded partners & developmental agencies not just through grants but also, allowing them to learn, prototype and/or scale effective solutions so that the impact is sustainable.
We firmly believe in technology & social innovation as enabler of social change in addressing disparate challenges from the grassroot level and as such we are committed to strengthening Shine program to empower social entrepreneurs scale and realize their vision. We also look forward building more ecosystem partnerships to join forces and support large scale programs that can bring about systemic changes to major societal challenges in our focus areas. Last but not the least, we want our employees to be socially active and purpose driven – we will continue to involve them as important contributors towards our vision of building resilient societies
(India CSR Exclusive)
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