Connect to Collaborate

DG Jagdish Patel addressing the conclave.
DG Jagdish Patel addressing the conclave.

A CSR conclave was ­organised by Rotary International ­District 3051 at Gujarat ­Chambers of ­Commerce & Industries, Ahmedabad on August 23, 2014. The meeting, hosted by RC Ahmedabad Airport, aimed at harnessing the prospects for possible CSR partnership with ­corporate organisations, further to the newly included provisions ­pertaining to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the ­Companies Act, 2013, for it was a good opportunity for Rotary to get access to sizable corporate fund for various service projects.

Section 135 of the Act requires that corporate have to spend two percentage of the average net profit of the company in preceding 3 financial years on CSR activities. This amount is to be spent in the financial year (April to March) and it is estimated that approximately Rs 25,000 crore would be spent every year. With such a substantial sum available for social causes, Rotary can strategically ­collaborate with corporates for CSR activities and Rotary projects.

Section of the delegates.
Section of the delegates.

The objectives of the conclave comprised of providing a connecting platform between Corporate and Rotary to successfully implement CSR projects in a sustainable way and showcase Rotary’s best image to the corporate world so they can consider Rotary as a preferred CSR partner.

The conclave was conceived in two parts — Corporate Delegates and Rotarian Delegates.

The corporate meeting had around 70 corporate delegates, including some Rotarians from the corporate world. DG Jagdish Patel welcomed the corporate guests. PDG Ashish Desai briefed them about the leading projects undertaken by Rotary in collaboration with corporate companies at national and international level; Rotary’s partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for polio eradication and about Global Grants and TRF. ARPIC PDG Ratnesh Kashyap presented various possible projects for CSR partnership and emphasised on establishing joint skill development centres under CSR.

The CSR meet for Rotarians was underway in another hall at the Chamber office simultaneously which had a registration of 210 Rotarians from 45 clubs. Rotarians discussed the way ahead to collaborate with corporate organisations in executing meaningful community projects. Mr R.J. Joshipura, Vice President – Finance, Nirma Ltd., enlightened the Rotarians about the expectations from the CSR partners. Dr Bhushan Punani (IIMA alumni) from one of the leading NGOs of Gujarat, Blind People Association, shared their experience with corporate for CSR. He further offered his support for strategic planning for CSR.

Panel discussions led by DGE Lalit Sharma witnessed active involvement from Rotarians. ­Valuable information was shared ­regarding successful execution of CSR projects. Emphasis was laid on the District to undertake various avenues of CSR to execute long term partnership. DG Patel laid out the further action plan for successful CSR partnership.

The meeting concluded with the following decisions: To organise a workshop for hands-on training on how to prepare the proposals for CSR partnership and other documentation required for successful sustainable CSR partnership with corporate; Rotary CSR Meet for ­sanitation ­projects at district level; the ­District will promote Rotary through a stall at the Corporate NGO Bridge Meet to be held at Ahmedabad; CEO Dinners to be hosted by Rotary to impress upon the CEOs to join hands with Rotary in CSR.

It was also decided to make available a subscription of Rotary News to leading corporate houses so as to communicate Rotary activities and areas of focus to maximum number of companies falling under the CSR to ensure that we can influence their CSR policy. Rotary District websites should have a link for CSR partner kit to let them have an idea on ­Rotary’s work in the community.

An attractive booklet, ‘Connect to Collaborate,’ showcasing Rotary’s life-changing projects including its role in polio eradication and its focus on literacy was released at the occasion and distributed to the corporate delegates at the conclave.

It was a productive meet for both, corporate members and Rotarians. Rakesh Shah, President, Gujarat Chambers of Commerce & Industries thus stated, “Our chamber of commerce and industries will extend full-fledged support to connect Rotary to corporate, to execute service projects with more impact.”

With inputs from RI District 3051

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