Sushanto Mitra, CEO of Lead Angels has mentored and advised incubators such as FIIT, IIT Delhi and IIT Gandhinagar, and many successful startups such as Super Daily, Sedemac, IdeaForge and Atomberg. Mitra also serves BlueSky Sustainable Business as one of the Advisory Council Members.
In an email interview with India CSR, Mitra talks about Startups, social responsibility and assurance. Edited exerpts:
How important is it to integrate social responsibility as a fundamental requirement for startups?
Being an entity that is beneficial to society at large is a universal requirement and whose importance is only growing with time. As startups build enterprises for the future it becomes all the more important for them to ensure that their operations integrate this early in their operations rather than try to retro-fit it later.
Innovation is considered crucial for a startup. What social issues are innovations trying to address currently?
Issues such as the environment are big social concerns and many startups across the world are focusing their innovations in this area. Similarly, issues such as workforce wellness, gender equity and governance are areas where startups are developing innovative solutions for solving some of the issues.
What are your views on how ESG funds can use Assurance of Social Responsibility projects for evaluating startup investments?
These funds value ESG factors as a part of their investment analysis. Any assurance on these would help them to make better decisions. Startup investing is considered less analytical and more focused on soft factors. The more scientific it becomes over time, better would be the outcomes. Therefore objective Assurance of Social Responsibility could be a definitive value adds to this science of startup investing.
Should social value be included for valuation for startups
Many funds already use this in their evaluation and there is some evidence to prove that companies that rank high on this tend to perform better than others. While research in this area is limited, it seems reasonable to assume that it would benefit the evaluation process.
Do you think providing Assurance for CSR Projects is useful for Business? Why?
Businesses undertake CSR projects for both compliance and other purposes. If the projects do not meet their objectives either social or business then it surely needs a relook. Providing Assurance for CSR is one simple way to promote outcome based approaches to an area where activity rather goals met becomes a measure of success.