How a bottom up approach in CSR is impacting lives better

In years gone by, a children’s home would receive donations of ill-fitting clothes and shoes and would have to clap loudly and smile at the snapping cameras.

At weddings where every guest brings a set of a dozen water glasses, some of the donations have rarely suited the needs of individual beneficiaries.

And cash being too crass, companies have been left to alternate their target beneficiaries or switch gifts and everyone gets just the same thing only in different places.

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At the moment, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming mainstream, being viewed not as companies giving away stuff, but also getting something in return.

Having a CSR programme will not only improve a company’s image but will also spice up things such as media coverage, employee engagement and retaining and attracting investors and clients in equal measure.

As it becomes mainstream, CSR has kept evolving in how it meets the needs of the local beneficiaries, who generates the ideas for intervention and whose priority it serves.

Telecommucations giant Safaricom is rolling out an approach that may revolutionize corporate giving in Kenya and inform how CSR will be conducted in the years to come.

The company wants to fund projects in health, economic empowerment and education but it is going at it quite differently.

Take Safaricom’s Ndoto Zetu for instance. Here, the beneficiaries are required to nominate community projects that are within the Foundation’s focus areas through written submissions on the Safaricom website or by visiting Safaricom retail shops countrywide and filling in an application form.

This has allowed the company reach all 47 counties and develop a working model for selection of the neediest communities and directly addressing their priorities.

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For instance, while Matuu GHM memorial Girls Secondary School in Machakos County wanted sports kits, Manoa Dispensary in Taita-Taveta County was in dire need of maternity equipment.

House of Ozack in Busia County wanted sewing machines while Feed and Tend CBO in Kakamega County wanted chemicals to help eradicate jigger among the community.

These needs are simply many, varied and diverse but through a bottom up approach, Ndoto Zetu Phase two has been the most impactful, touching 243,502 lives at the cost of only KES60.6 million.

A total 329 projects have been handed over, including 40 health projects benefiting 100,472 people; 82 economic empowerment benefiting 31,787 people and 199 education initiatives benefiting 111,243 people.

At least 52,473 people were impacted in the first phase of the initiative that saw over 300 projects across 40 counties implemented at a cost of over Sh30 million.

Safaricom says different methodologies employed in Phase 2 will guide approval of Phase 3 applications to ensure they reach the neediest communities.

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