Poverty has been identified as one of the major causes of discontent and conflict in South Asia, home to the largest number of poor in the world – about 600 million, a quarter of the world’s poor.
It is now accepted wisdom that in a globalised world, the private sector leads economic growth and plays an increasingly important role in the national development process. It must also effectively play a major role in poverty alleviation.
The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR, is beginning to be factored into the annual expenditure of a considerable number of private sector companies in the West and now to some extent in our region.
The South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI) is a ‘think tank’ spanning the South Asian region. SAPRI is a non-partisan, non-profit making organization devoted to engaging in research and in promoting the implementation of best practices. It holds workshops, seminars and conferences and is committed to conveying the outcome of these research-based colloquia to decision-makers.
Professor Muhammad Yunus
Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel laureate and father of the Grameen Bank will talk on his recent initiative. His concept of “Social Business” is based on identifying the basic needs of the poor and helping to address them through non-governmental agencies and the corporate sector. Among the problems tackled are malnutrition in infants, access to clean drinking water, the provision of clothing, etc.
Senior management consultants from the TATA Group of India will speak of two of their CSR projects:
• The Kisan Kendras project to assist poor farmers to improve the quality of their produce and to transport it to markets with minimal spoilage, while obtaining best prices.
• A successful implementation of business process outsourcing (BPO) in rural Gujarat.