By Rusen Kumar
Embassy REIT, India’s first publicly listed Real Estate Investment Trust which owns and operates a 42.4 million square feet (msf) portfolio of eight infrastructure-like office parks and four city-center office buildings in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, and the National Capital Region (NCR). Pleading its support to various government hospitals & initiatives across the country during the Covid-19 outbreak, Embassy REIT this year multiple CSR initiatives on the lines of education, health & hygiene, community outreach, waste management, etc to name a few. Home to the world’s leading companies Embassy REIT under its corporate connect program partnered with its corporate tenants on diverse CSR initiatives to support various initiatives. Shaina Ganapathy, Head of Community Outreach, Embassy Group shares insights with Rusen Kumar, Editor, India CSR on the success of Embassy REITs corporate connect program, CSR initiatives, challenges and its long-term goals. Excerpts:
What are the Covid-19 relief measures undertaken by the CSR arm of Embassy REIT?
Throughout the crisis, Embassy REIT initiated a wide variety of initiatives to support the demographics impacted by the virus and ensuing lockdown – from front-line workers and the police to daily wage workers and other underprivileged populations.
At the forefront of containing the pandemic, Embassy REIT instituted a variety of initiatives for police personnel across the country to aid them in conducting their duties in a safe and sanitary manner. We set up 11 hydration stations across the country in our city-based offices, where police personnel could receive drinking water, snacks, coffee and tea, access to first aid, sanitisers and toilets. The Hydration Stations were open during the lockdowns in Bangalore, Noida, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. We also mandated the provision of personal protective equipment to fill in the existing gaps. To date, we have provided 50,140 hand sanitizers, 1,57,300 protective masks and 1,05,400 nutritional snacks to police forces across the nation.
Under our Corporate Connect program, we handed over 5,000 PPE kits and N-95 masks to the doctors and healthcare workers of the BMC Covid Centre NSCI in Worli, Mumbai.
Embassy REIT also supported the provision of over 5.7 lakh meals, through the distribution of ration kits and cooked meals, to underprivileged populations of Bangalore, and Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. We conducted three rounds of distribution to 3,500 families of our 17 adopted Government Schools. We were also able to provide dry rations for migrant workers, daily wage earners and our families in 17 geographies in Bangalore and Maharashtra.
Embassy REIT and a consortium of corporate occupiers stepped in to ensure the health and safety of the around 9.2 lakh students, invigilators and evaluators attending the 2020 Karnataka SSLC examinations. This request was from The Department of Education. The joint initiative saw the provision of sanitizers for every day of the exams and evaluations. Additionally, we provided sanitizers for evaluators at 22 centres. In Bangalore, Embassy REIT provided dispensers, protective gloves and temperature gauges to our adopted Government Schools, as well as conducted deep cleaning and sanitization of the exam halls and school grounds.
Along with four of our corporate occupiers, we collaborated to invest in safeguarding Government School students and teachers from the COVID-19 pandemic. We stepped up to provide face shields for 59,887 teachers and temperature monitors for 9,347 Government High Schools and Primary Schools in the state.
During the second wave of the pandemic, we have also contributed towards supplementing the health infrastructure of our nation, through leading a corporate consortium to partner with the Karnataka and other State Health Departments in this time of need. We have supported 12 hospitals across India with much-needed medical equipment, as well as the provision of 137 ICU and high-dependency beds.
As a CSR lead – what are some of the challenges you face in terms of implementation, planning, etc?
With regards to planning and implementation, one of the primary challenges we have found is a lack of agility from all participating stakeholders. During the Covid-19 pandemic, however, we found that we were able to react to the challenges that were facing us with extreme nimbleness thanks to supporting from the Government, and various task forces and expertise in place.
When planning our CSR initiatives, reaching last-mile beneficiaries can be challenging – this is where you require a strong grassroots-level implementation partner or NGO. Empowering our underprivileged requires effective engagement with every stakeholder.
How has the participation from the occupiers been for the corporate connect program?
Sustained, in-depth societal impact doesn’t take place in a silo. Driven by this idea, Embassy REIT introduced a unique platform known as the ‘Corporate Connect Program,’ which champions partnerships between corporates with the aim of achieving social development. Drawing together leaders from corporates, NGOs and the Government on a common platform to discuss shared challenges and vision, we have led the mobilisation of over 1,500 employees and developed 34 corporate partnerships for 63 CSR projects to date. 54% of our corporate partners have chosen to partner with us more than once.
Thanks to the corporate connect program, we have been able to impact over 2 million lives.
Apart from Covid-19, what are the other long-term initiatives that Embassy REIT has undertaken (other social fields eg. Education)?
Embassy REIT believes in nurturing and contributing to the economic, social and environmental development of the communities around where we operate.
We facilitate students of Government and Rural Schools with a safe learning environment through holistic educational interventions, skill development and the provision of infrastructure solutions. Innovative learning support and programs in English, Math through Computers, Life Skills, Sports and more, are blended into the existing school schedule and boosted by engaging extra-curricular activities – from education trips and summer camps to talent development and inter-school competitions.
We enhance educational interventions with infrastructural solutions, designed to equip schools with world-class resources. In addition to new Government School builds, we conduct extensive facility upgrades, repairs and renovations, creating safe and inviting environments conducive to learning.
To combat dropping attendance due to frequent illnesses, Embassy REIT and our corporate partners established a 7-step holistic health & hygiene program in Government Schools that provides the full gamut of support from preventative – awareness, daily maintenance, and clean drinking water to detective – comprehensive health screenings and medical interventions.
Embassy REIT offers waste management solutions in North Bangalore, working closely with NGOs to catalyse communities to develop and implement strategic infrastructure for sustainable environmental management. The Embassy is a proud partner of TAICT’s EcoGram Solid Waste Management project. Initiated in 2016, EcoGram jointly aims to create an ecologically sound replicable model Gram Panchayat to propagate sustainable waste, water, and soil management, with operations currently spread over 8 villages.
To complement the solid waste management infrastructural solutions provided in the Panchayat, a strong emphasis is also placed on community engagement and awareness initiatives curated through women and children in the communities. Embassy REIT is in the process of building an Integrated Solid Waste Management Centre, benefitting 18 villages.
What would the focus be for the CSR team going forward and outlook for 2022?
We will continue to grow and improve the depth of our interventions in our existing focus areas, as well as assist in transforming India’s Sporting Landscape. We will be supporting the International Horse Agency (IHA), based in Germany, which has taken up the responsibility to oversee the training needs of two accomplished athletes in Equestrian Sports for the upcoming Asian Games.
We will also focus on increasing our interventions in support of revitalising our environment.