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CSR law: A way to reduce trust deficit between NGOs and Companies

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By Jaideep Sarin

Manesar:  With companies that fall under the ambit of the new guidelines of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) likely to report about their activities from next month, the trust deficit between them and NGOs is likely to reduce, a senior functionary in this field said.

“Over the years, a fairly large trust deficit has developed between NGOs and corporates (over CSR activities). Corporations, for their part, find it difficult at times to place their faith in NGOs. Their hesitation relates largely to issues of ethics and implementation capabilities.

“The new legislation will lead to a synergistic partnership between corporations, NGOs and the government which would also allow for greater transparency in the operations of all three agencies,” Bhaskar Chatterjee, director general and chief executive officer of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), told a media outlet in an interview.

“Government data can help guide CSR agendas into areas it is most needed, corporations have experience making sure the projects are streamlined and costa conservative, and NGOs have experience and knowledge of marginalized and underserved areas of society as well as experience in operational transparency. If a symbiotic relationship can develop between corporations, NGOs and the government, socially responsible programmes will have a measurable impact faster and more efficiently than if there is less transparency and no trust,” Chatterjee said.

The new CSR rules under Section 135 of the amended Companies Act, 2013 came into force from April 1 last year. Companies falling in the ambit of the new rules were mandated to spend two percent of their net profit (average of last three years) on CSR activities.

Rough estimates indicate that nearly Rs 25,000 crore (over $3.5 billion) could be spent by companies in CSR activities in the first year (2014-15) itself.

“Presently, it is estimated that nearly 14,000 to 16,000 companies are likely to come under the ambit of the CSR legislation. Actual expenditure will become clearer after companies do their CSR reporting and audited results are made available in the public domain from September onward,” Chatterjee said.

Except for large corporates and old companies, most of the companies falling under the ambit of the new rules are first-timers who do not have much expertise about CSR.

Corporate Social Responsibility
credits: willnevergrowup.com

Chatterjee pointed out that the spirit of the new CSR rules was not to have the government control the CSR funds of companies engaged in the activity.

“The role of the government is to create an enabling environment so that companies are motivated, encouraged and inspired to undertake meaningful, impactful, sustainable and result-oriented projects and programmes on the ground. The purpose and spirit of CSR law is not that the government is to use or control any funds either for management of CSR or for doing CSR management in any way,” Chatterjee pointed out.

The IICA, which is under the ministry of corporate affairs, was set up to provide a holistic think tank, capacity building and service delivery institution, operating through effective partnerships with corporates and professionals and institutions. It has set up a CSR Implementing Agency Hub to create an extensive database of the implementing agencies. It has also launched new courses to meet the burgeoning demand for trained CSR professionals from the corporate, public and NGO sectors.

With the new rules in force, the CSR sector activity is likely to be streamlined in the coming years.

“There was a time when development and corporate sector functioned in a mutually exclusive fashion. In fact, many a time, they found – and continue to find – each other as an adversary. The changing milieu, however, is encouraging them to come to the same table. The business regulations in India have already created a platform for NGOs to play a part by recommending the implementation of CSR projects through NGOs and development sector agencies,” Chatterjee said.

(IANS)

 

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Microsoft Ready to Help Indian Startups, Says President Anant Maheshwari

Microsoft is focused as much on selling third party solutions as their own, and this co-sell motion has helped generate $8 billion in revenue for partners within 18 months

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Armed with a cutting-edge technology platform, a well-established partner organisation and an expansion of M12 venture fund, Microsoft is ready to help Indian startups across the spectrum embrace the next phase of growth, Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, said here on Monday.

India, which saw a tremendous growth in the startup space in the last couple of years, is now witnessing a growth in the business-to-business (B2B) tech startups coming up with innovative ideas to deal with local problems.

“With our intelligent tech expertise, deep focus on trust and unique global go to market partnering, we empower unicorns and startups to scale sustainably at a global level,” said Maheshwari.

“We remain excited about India’s entrepreneurial startup potential and will continue to accelerate it as a growth engine for the economy,” he added.

India witnessed a dramatic rise of eight unicorns in 2018 from among the start-ups across verticals as against a mere nine in six years from 2011 till 2017, according to IT industry apex body Nasscom.

The start-ups joining the select club for their valuation over $1 billion are Oyo Rooms (hospitality), Zomato and Swiggy (food delivery), Udaan (retailer marketplace), Byju’s, (edu-tech), Paytm Mall (e-tail), Freshworks (software programmer) and Policybazaar (digital insurance).

Maheshwari said Microsoft is uniquely positioned to support Indian startups to achieve scale and evolve from market ready to enterprise ready.

Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

The introduction of M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, in India in February is creating new value for startups, VCs and the company itself to maintain the pace and direction of innovation.

“M12 is looking at investing in innovators who have aligned their focus on cutting-edge technologies that better enable digital transformation. The portfolio development team at M12 is specifically built to help support and scale companies by leveraging the expansive resources of Microsoft,” said the company.

According to reports, venture capital investments in Indian tech business-to-business (B2B) start-ups have been trending upwards, with over $3.09 billion raised in equity funding across 415 deals in 2018 — 28 per cent more than $2.41 billion in 2017.

Also Read: Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

Under the “Microsoft for Startups” initiative, startups can co-sell with Microsoft sales teams, get access to top tech VCs in the global arena and mentorship from industry veterans.

In less than 18 months, Microsoft for Startups has closed more than 120 co-sell deals with more than $126 million in active pipeline for startups.

Microsoft is focused as much on selling third party solutions as their own, and this co-sell motion has helped generate $8 billion in revenue for partners within 18 months. (IANS)