Aeris communications has been investing heavily in forming partnerships with academia, social entrepreneurs and NGOs to provide them with tools enabling data analysis and productivity enhancement or bringing right-sized, affordable solutions to the social sector worldwide. Shweta Berry, CSR Head of the organisation talks to India CSR on their initiatives, objective and future plans. Excerpts:
How long has the company been participating in CSR initiatives?
Aeris announced the launch of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practice in India at Shastri Bhawan, Ministry of Social Empowerment & Justice in May 2016. This was done in alignment with the company’s mission to use IoT technologies to enhance the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people and promote more efficient use of the planet’s limited resources. Aeris is devoted to improving the lives of those in need and encourage better use of limited resources.
As part of our CSR initiatives, we have been investing heavily in forming partnerships with academia, social entrepreneurs and NGOs to provide them with tools enabling data analysis and productivity enhancement or bringing right-sized, affordable solutions to the social sector worldwide. In the field of education, we have been actively facilitating IoT knowledge exchanges through Faculty Development programs and guest lectures for students in leading management and technical colleges and universities. Aeris IoT Centre of Excellence is running in multiple institutions (including IIT), across India.
Importance and objective of project on Water Conservation, such as Project TechNirmal & engagement with the Art of Living River Rejuvenation. What provided the motivation?
According to various study papers and analyses, India’s expected water consumption will be twice the available supply by 2030. If not solved, water shortage will harm the country’s GDP, resulting in a nearly 6% drop by 2050. Millions of people in the country are already experiencing severe water shortages. In the long run, the undersupply is anticipated to worsen as demand rises, with the world’s 1.4 billion people expanding at a rate of roughly 1% per year. Despite its importance in human life, industrialization has wreaked havoc on India’s water resources. Nonetheless, increased public awareness of the need for water conservation has paved the way for creative water-saving solutions. Aeris, too, is doing its part to aid water conservation.
Project TechNirmal is a CSR initiative launched by Aeris in partnership with Welthungerhilfe for water conservation through proper monitoring and tracking community-based work using a connected mobility solution. At present, there has been no initiative in mapping the water bodies by any organization using technology. Therefore, the TechNirmal project can pave the way for scaling up by different stakeholders, including the Government. The project includes training community leaders on how to monitor the water bodies being revived in the area using simple tools like their own mobile phones. This monitoring tool for water bodies will enable the communities to track the encroachment of water bodies and function as a social accountability tool.
Similarly, Aeris has been associated with the Art of Living since 2018. We have been providing IoT solutions for Impact Assessment of the River Rejuvenation Projects running in multiple locations in India, namely, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and support new projects undertaken in any part of India. Our sponsored devices are being used for mapping the local geology, and geo-hydrology enabling optimal planning of watershed development programs. In addition, our AerTrak platform has been helping the organisation track their vehicles for the optimal utilisation across multiple sites and ashrams.
Role of CSR towards the Progress of MSMEs in India
The concept of sustainable entrepreneurship is not complete and equitable without placing a high ranking on the importance of small and medium businesses as engines of inclusive growth and development.
MSMEs face numerous challenges like effective management of resources, difficulty in raising finance, lack of skilled manpower, lack of technology upgradation, difficulty in procuring raw material from domestic as well as foreign markets, lack of quality infrastructure, operational challenges and less focus on research and innovation among others. Corporate Social Responsibility is as a great way to address these problems.
Aeris has been promoting the understanding of the IoT technology ecosystem to companies, MSME and social enterprises for targeted social outcomes. We recently signed MoU with Sobus Insights Forum to address some of the above issues by unleashing technological and social innovations. By working together, we aim to economically, socially and informationally empower the under-served communities and social entrepreneurs in India with an innovation driven environment.
Also, during the pandemic, Aeris offered the AerTrak solution for free to MSMEs providing emergency services as well as hospitals and ambulance service providers so that they could manage their mobile resources efficiently.
What steps have been taken to ensure long-term sustainability of your project?
Aeris has the expertise to support social projects which require technology interventions. Aeris is one among the few organizations which has dedicated “IoT for Good” webpage and leadership position for CSR initiatives. We map our support initiatives and deliverables as per the action plan of the CSR partners. The success of the CSR initiatives is directly mapped to the project goals of the partnering NGOs. We commit to a long-term collaborative relationship as both benefits and impact assessments are more realistic when driven long term.
What benefits will society have with collaboration of Aeris and Sobus Insights Forum?
The social innovation segment in India requires support in capacity building and go-to-market strategies, leveraging new-age technologies. Our collaboration with Sobus Insight Forum will help unleash technological and social innovations that can usher in a new developmental model the world has not seen before. We will nurture social entrepreneurship among students, social entrepreneurs, and the larger community. We are committed to bringing positive impact by technologically empowering social entrepreneurs to fill in the gap left unattended by economic entrepreneurship.
Share plans for next 5 years
We are more focused on maturing our current engagements for ensuring positive outcomes on a large scale and keep evaluating new opportunities which map well to our philosophy of creating Positive Social Impact with Digital Empowerment to ENABLE: Application of Technology for Monitoring and Analytics, ENHANCE: Adoption Rate | Regular Usage | Service, and IMPACT: Masses
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