Indian companies in South Africa are performing well in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives such as job creation, but they should partner with the local ones for greater impact through shared resources, a PwC report said. Titled ‘Indian industry’s inclusive footprint in South Africa’, the report compiled by global consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was commissioned by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The report highlights a wide range of CSR investments by many of the 150 Indian companies with a presence in South Africa. The investments range from bursaries and sport to women empowerment and community development in the rural areas. “Indian companies operating in South Africa are not just investing money and creating employment but are actively contributing to the upliftment of the communities in which they operate.
“They believe that business is an important instrument for development and are making significant investments in CSR programmes, (reflecting) their desire to make a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic development of South Africa and their long-term commitment to being in the country,” the report said. But the report also made a range of recommendations to further such initiatives through partnerships with local companies. With India set to place greater emphasis on start-ups in its new economic development policy, the establishment of a CEO Forum for start-ups is suggested. This forum would consist of CEO’s of start-ups from both the countries and serve as a platform for knowledge transfer and information sharing. The report also suggested that instead of only channelling money towards charitable projects, Indian companies should consider funding social enterprises in South Africa to generate income while addressing social needs. “While donating to charities is commendable and should be continued, Indian companies could take more action to build infrastructure or repair dilapidated infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, clinics and community centres in the communities in which they operate,” the report said.
“Municipal budgets are sometimes too tight to allow for repairing or building new infrastructure and CSR investments in this area would go a long way towards improving much-needed facilities, especially in the marginalised communities,” it noted. Acknowledging that Indian IT companies have done “considerable work” in upskilling people in the sector, the report proposes that they partner with the state-established Skills Education Training Authorities to address the lack of human capital in alignment with the priorities set by these institutions. The report underscored the opportunity for Indian companies to establish manufacturing plants in South Africa to provide meaningful economic empowerment, rather than just promoting export of the country’s raw materials to India for processing.