Trialogue CSI forum, May 2014: Strategic CSI 2017-12-04T18:41:19+00:00

Project Description

Held in Johannesburg (13 May), Durban (14 May) and Cape Town (15 May)

In order to give context to Trialogue’s CSI positioning matrix, Trialogue introduced the concept of shared value and explained it as being where the competitiveness of a company is enhanced whilst at the same time the social conditions in which it operates are improved.

Trialogue presented some of the theory behind the concept of shared value and strategic CSI (see attached Harvard Business Review paper by Porter and Kramer on strategic philanthropy) before introducing their CSI positioning matrix. The matrix identifies corporate benefit along the x-axis and social benefit along the y-axis, with qualifying criteria for each of the quadrants. The matrix provides a useful tool for companies to plot their CSI programmes and projects. It can be used as a diagnostic tool to assess current position as well as a strategic tool to develop strategies of where the company would like its projects positioned.

A summary of the discussion follows.

Is the concept of ‘shared value’ applicable to CSI and worth pursuing?

  • The general consensus from the three forums was that it is applicable and is already being pursued as more and more projects aim to increase the competitiveness of the business whilst at the same time improving the social conditions.
  • Companies are increasingly investing more in the sustainability of projects and in projects that have long-term potential.
  • It is worth pursuing although, ironically, most CSI practitioners focus on the developmental impacts and don’t ask what the benefit to business is so they miss the opportunity to bring aspects from the business to the development space to boost it.
  • One of the challenges associated with the concept of shared value is around the sustainable participation of community members.

Does the Trialogue positioning matrix make sense? Comments on the matrix.

  • Overall agreement that the matrix makes sense and is a useful tool.
  • The tool allows companies to plot their projects on the matrix and decide whether the projects have more of a social or business benefit or both.
  • It can assist companies with formulating their CSI strategy and linking it with their corporate strategy.
  • One project can be in different places on the matrix for different companies (e.g. could be developmental CSI for one company that does not get much business benefit and strategic CSI for another company to which it is aligned).
  • It was suggested that the matrix could have a third axis/dimension that covered the work of a partner/another organisation.
  • Some projects will evolve through the quadrants and the route will depend on the needs of the community and the needs of the business over time. However, the earlier on in the design one can identify what you are trying to achieve the better.
  • It was suggested that companies should focus on the social development axis first to address social needs at the bottom of the pyramid as a priority. However, a counter argument was that some issues should be addressed by government and that corporates should rather play to their strengths and do things that indivduals and governments cannot do, which will actually result in greater social benefit.
  • If one looks at the time horizon of the matrix, the charitable grantmaking quadrant would be more short-term whereas the strategic CSI would be more long-term.

Should programmes aspire to strategic CSI?

  • There is a place for projects in all quadrants of the matrix (and not just in the strategic CSI quadrant), however it is desirable to have one or two projects positioned in the strategic quadrant.
  • Whether or not a company practices strategic CSI depends on where the company stands on shared value more broadly (values and vision of the board and leadership on these issues).
  • In many cases, especially with hard-nosed boards, the more one can move towards the right of the matrix, the easier it is to hold onto one’s budget.

Positioning of projects on the matrix

In the Joburg and Durban forums, practitioners had the opportunity to position one of their CSI projects on the matrix and justify their reasons for selecting the particular quadrant. Examples of projects in each quadrant are provided below:

Strategic CSI (top right quadrant)

  • Transnet Phelophepa Health Train
    • Programme description: A custom-built mobile clinic that provides affordable and accessible healthcare to disadvantaged communities in rural areas in South Africa.
    • Business benefit: Leverages off competencies and uses existing railway track and coaches, thus making the practice of CSI more cost effective. Assists communities in the areas in which Transnet operates.
    • Social benefit: Provides healthcare to communities that would otherwise not have access to such facilities. Also provides employment for community members and students doing their internships.
  • Redcap Foundation / Mr Price
    • Programme description: Training of unemployed individuals so that they can be employed in Mr Price’s supply chain.
    • Business benefit: Building local supply chain which reduces logistical costs and turnaround times (replace international suppliers); working closely with key suppliers and provincial government and improving relations with both groups.
    • Social benefit: Currently have only tracked outputs as the programme has just started so know number of people trained. In the future, will be tracking outcomes (number of people employed, salaries etc.), as well as impact in terms of the growth of local manufacturing industry and success of the suppliers that the programme supports.

Developmental CSI (top left quadrant)

  • Ster Kinekor Eye Care Project
    • Programme description: Provide eye care to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Includes providing glasses to those who need them. All children then given the opportunity to watch a movie.
    • Business benefit: Score SED points on the BEE scorecard. Also attracting potential new customers (children likely to want to watch a movie again).
    • Social benefit: Improvement of children’s eyesight. The children’s eyesight is reviewed after 24 months so there is a tracking of the number of children assisted as well as the ongoing impact.
  • RCL Group
    • Programme description: Funding of Star Schools which provide extra maths, science and English lessons to grades 10-12 learners.
    • Business benefit: Limited benefit. There is some recognition for the work done and schools supported are in the geographic operating areas of the plants. There may be a long-term benefit of these learners becoming employees (but this is not currently tracked).
    • Social benefit: Outcomes in terms of improved grades are tracked and reported on. Commercial grantmaking (bottom right quadrant)
  • Tongaat Hulett
    • Description: Partnership with the Owen Sithole Agricultural College where Tongaat funded the construction of a 200ha seed cane scheme, which will also be utilised as a training facility on the Owen Sitole College of Agriculture.
    • Business benefit: There is stakeholder benefit through improved relationships with the traditional leaders/landowners in rural KZN; plan to help improve the curriculum at the college later which will help with skills in the industry.
    • Social benefit: Supply to small-scale growers and all students get vacation work. Numbers/outputs are tracked but not outcomes. Charitable grantmaking (bottom left quadrant)
  • AfriSun Community Development Trust
    • ‘Thoughtful’ charitable grantmaking in geography around Sibaya Casino.
    • One project that produces washable pads for women has gained momentum and is being taken on by Mxit. As a result they may move up the social benefit axis.

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