We have spent over 10% of our profit in CSR: Shaifalika Panda, CEO, Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation

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Written by Rusen Kumar (@KumarRusen) for India CSR News Network

NEW DELHI: Shaifalika Panda is the Chief of CSR (Special Initiatives) of Indian Metal & Ferro Alloys Ltd. (IMFA) and CEO, Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation (BIPFI). The BIPF is the social arm of IMFA was set up with a mission of enabling lives of the marginalised groups through sustainable and scalable initiatives. The foundation works in the verticals of Education, Water & Sanitation, Skill Development, and Health Initiatives with a special focus on women & children development.
Shaifalika-Panda_CEO-BIPF India CSR InterviewIn an exclusive interview with Rusen Kumar, Managing Editor of India CSR; Shaifalika Panda, Chief of CSR (Special Initiatives) of IMFA and CEO of BIPFI shared her vision on CSR and recent development of CSR in the organization. She said that her organization has spent over 10% of profit for CSR and she expects that this year the spending will be significantly higher. Here are the edited excerpts of the interview:

Tell us about Indian Metal & Ferro Alloys Ltd – IMFA Journey and business philosophy?

Indian Metal & Ferro Alloys Ltd. (IMFA) set up in 1961 is today India’s largest, fully integrated producer of Ferro alloys, straddling the value chain from mining to smelting. Its 187 MVA installed furnace capacity is backed by 258 MW captive power generation and extensive chrome ore mining tracts. Our operations are certified to international standards covering quality management, environment and occupational health & safety.

We adhere to the highest ethical standards and take great pride in being a reliable partner for all stakeholders; be it our customers, our employees or the communities in which we operate. For us it is always principles before profit and people before business.

Can you discuss your company’s CSR journey? 

Dr. Bansidhar Panda, the founder of IMFA, left a promising career abroad and came back to his home-state to set up an industry in one of the remotest corners of Odisha in the erstwhile district of Koraput, with a concept of inclusive growth. As the operations grew, so did the community initiatives. Starting with providing basic necessities like water sources and sanitary facilities way back in the 1960s, we had scaled up our community initiatives by setting up a KG to 12th English medium CBSE School, an Industrial Training Centre and dispensaries, by the 70s and 80s. Our founders have always believed that we should coexist with the communities and their effort continues to inspire us in “touching lives beyond business”.

Brief our readers about Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation and its mission.

The development landscape calls for collective action. Thus in 2011 IMFA set up the Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation with a mission to enable lives of the marginalized groups by implementing Sustainable & Scalable Interventions through strategic partnerships and multi sectorial approach. The foundation focuses on Education, Skill Development, Water & Sanitation, Healthcare and Women’s Empowerment.

What is the implementing method of CSR?

Each project is meticulously planned with time bound goals after mapping community needs.  Every aspect is approached with business-like professionalism. An experienced team, a robust governance (with implementation methodology and regular monitoring and evaluation) and a community partnership approach ensures transparency and efficient execution of all our interventions. Higher impact and sustainable growth remains our priority. To maximize impact in certain areas we have also entered into strategic partnerships with national & International NGOs as well as government agencies.

Do you have CSR Committee as per provision of the Law?

We have a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee as per provision of the Law. Our Board of Directors, CSR committee, management team and all employees subscribe to the Corporate Responsibility Policy. The CSR cell is headed by a Chief of CSR (Special Initiatives), responsible for planning out the annual agenda. The progress of implementation of these projects is reviewed every quarter by the CSR committee which reports to the Board.

What is your CSR team strength?

We have a team comprising of 30 qualified professionals. We also hire large no of community mobilizers at the ground level to implement programs and facilitate communication.  In addition to this IMFA employees also contribute their time towards CSR projects.

What are key CSR projects initiated at plant locations?

We have various ongoing CSR project is different locations. Let me briefly highlight some of successful projects.

Project Arogya Dhara-Preventative and Curative healthcare

  • Health services through dispensaries at sites
  • Periodical Health Camps in remote areas
  • VHN Days and Information dissemination for improved Maternal & Child health.
  • Awareness programmes for adolescents
  • Building infrastructure for health facilities (especially for women)

Project Su-Swasthya-Ensuring Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

  • Creating awareness to stop open defecation through CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) approach
  • Periodic Awareness sessions to educate community members & school children about safe drinking water & sanitation.
  • Tube wells & Piped water supply facilities in targeted villages
  • Toilets for communities and schools in rural areas for increased attendance

Project Sakshyam: Creating skilling and employment opportunities for youth

  • Therubali Industrial Training Centre offers vocational training for Electrician, Welder, and Fitter etc.
  • Empanelled with MoRD for conducting DDU-GKY Skill Program
  • Successfully running the Skill centers at Choudwar, Cuttack dist. for Sewing Machine Operators & at JK Pur, Rayagada dist. for Electrical, Fitter &Turner

Project Adhyayan: Education for All

  • Chinmaya Vidhyala Therubali, an English medium CBSE School
  • Prof. Ghanashyam Dash Scholarship for Higher Education to meritorious students
  • Support to tribal schools in districts of Keonjhar, Jajpur & Cuttack
  • Infrastructure support to schools in remote areas to prevent school dropouts & ensure regular attendance
  • Study material support for increased attendance at schools in tribal areas

How Project Unnati is empowering the women in Odisha?

‘UNNATI’ is a Self Help Group model which empowers women through financial and social inclusion. It follows a unique method of integrating financial training (savings & credits) & livelihood capacity building with life-skill trainings (on education, gender, health issue, WASH etc). The aim is to transform the lives of these women. To give them a voice in household decision making once they become an earning member thanks to their livelihood skills. Life skills training also helps guide their families to spend on important issues like health, education and hygiene. This project was recognized as a best case practice by GBC Health, New York in private sector engagement in India in 2013. Currently Project Unnati is being successfully carried out in Angul, Jajpur and Keonjhar districts of Odisha.

What are the key objectives of carrying such projects? 

We believe in inclusive growth. Hence the key objective is to achieve capacity building of the community. For growth to be sustainable it is imperative for the community to take ownership of their programs. The aim is to ensure quality of life – creating healthy not just happy families; providing dignity not just access to basics; and offering opportunities not just financial aid.

What are the communication strategies to inform stakeholders at IMFA?

I believe that communication is key to change. The more the stakeholders know about our programs the larger our reach becomes. In- house communication programs update all our employees as well as inspire more employee volunteers. We take pride in highlighting our projects through our quarterly newsletter and the BIPF Website. We also disseminate information through regular modes of communication via print & electronic media, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Our Annual Panel discussions involves all stakeholders wherein we invite experts from different sectors to deliberate upon our focus areas as well as on pressing social issues.

What is the aim of Shambhavi Puraskar?

The aim of Shambhavi Puraskar is to highlight the achievements of silent heroes who carry on social work undaunted by the enormity of the challenges and inspire others to follow in their footsteps. In a world that faces multiple challenges, we need many more of these extraordinary people who work towards transforming lives around them. Just like the IMFA instituted Sarala Award for Odia Literature and Ekalabya Puraskar for Sports – two of the most prestigious awards in the state- the Shambhavi Puraskar by BIPF is the first of its kind in Odisha which recognizes emerging social catalysts thereby encouraging more citizens to act as agents of change.

What is your annual CSR budget? 

Our budget is based on activities we carry on year after year including our Chinmaya Vidhyalaya School, ITI Centers, Therubali Industrial training Centre, Community Dispensaries and our Women & Child interventions at various locations. In 2014-15, we have spent over 10% of our profit and this year the spending will be significantly higher given our commitment to the new ITI at Sukinda starting in August 2016.

As co-chairperson of FICCI Young Leaders what role you are playing?

FICCI Young Leaders was set up to involve young business leaders to influence policy decision at the highest level – the findings and conclusions are reported to the FICCI Executive Committee.  FYL is a platform to engage youth across sectors and undertakes several programs like the Leadership Talk Series through CDs, held in universities like IIM, XIMB, Delhi University etc.; Young Tech Entrepreneurs wherein companies collaborate, share and exchange ideas with mentors like Narayan Murthy and Nandan Nilekani with the objective of increasing the growth trajectory of their business; and putting together knowledge papers. Keeping the focus on CSR I have been involved in a knowledge paper with Accenture on Organising for Success on Corporate Responsibility: the path to high performance.

About Shaifalika Panda: Shaifalika Panda is a Trustee and the Chief Executive Officer of Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation, the social development arm of Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Ltd (IMFA; estd 1961). She quit a successful business career to pursue her keen interest in social causes and joined IMFA as Chief of CSR (Special Initiatives) with a mandate to bring about a greater focus to the company’s CSR activities, particularly through sustainable initiatives. She spearheaded the formation of the Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation with a vision to engage, educate and empower the most vulnerable communities to achieve socio-economic transformation.

Personifying her profound commitment to improving the condition of women, she is responsible for developing the framework of BIPF’s Unnati Project, an integrated self-help approach covering finance, livelihood, health, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene that aims at teaching women to build capacity to handle their economic and social challenges themselves.

Shaifalika graduated with honours cum laude with a dual degree in Marketing and International Management from the School of Management, Boston University, United States. Having followed her calling into the social development field, she then went on to get a Diploma in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability from the Swedish Institute, Stockholm.

Shaifalika is co-chairperson of FICCI Young Leaders and serves on the advisory board of FICCI-Social Economic Development Foundation and The Learning Matters Teachers Training Institute. In her personal capacity she has also set up Awaaz Foundation to do charitable work including in partnership mode with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Twitter handle Indian Metal & Ferro Alloys Ltd.: @imfaltd

Twitter handle India CSR News Network.: @IndiaCSR

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