All about CSI
Corporate Social Investment, to most, in an abstract term. What does it mean? Is it expected only of big businesses?
Corporate Social Investment means just that: making a conscious decision to give back to society; a decision to help alleviate social ills facing any community — but usually the one you work in. CSI is a commitment to uplift the community and change things around you as your business grows.
There are, maybe, three things that come to mind when one is thinking of Patrice Motsepe: he is a mining mogul, a soccer boss and South Africa’s first black billionaire. With a fortune estimated at $2.2 billion, the founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals chose to give big in 2013. He joined the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in The Giving Pledge.
The Giving Pledge challenges billionaires (individuals and families alike) to give away majority of their wealth to charitable causes. Half the Motsepe fortune was donated to the Motsepe foundation to be used to, “to improve the lifestyles and living conditions of the poor, the disabled, unemployed, women, youth, workers and marginalised South Africans”.
That is exactly where it begins. You don’t have to be Motsepe-rich or give away all your profit. Explore what you care about and what you would want your business’s legacy — your legacy — to be, let it be beyond profit. Do you want there to be more people able to do the work you do? Would you want to make sure that children in your old neighbourhood eat three meals daily?
A CSI initiative is also another way to measure and keep track of your business’s growth. If at the start of your business you’re only able to buy a year’s supply of stationery for one student, being able to buy for seven after three years later should be a good sign of the progress your business has made.
As you set goals for growth in your business, you should consider doing the same for your CSI initiatives. Being unable to do CSI from the gate is nothing to worry about, but certainly re-evaluate this as soon as your business is showing a profit and there are resources to give back. CSI doesn’t necessarily have to be money — especially in a skills strapped country like ours.
If the spirit of ubuntu doesn’t inspire you to give back to the community, then perhaps it is time to rethink how you leave your legacy. Dedicating time, money and skills to the community leaves a lasting and positive change where it matters. Besides, it doesn’t hurt that businesses are able to boost their BEE scores through CSI initiatives. Monetary donations can also be deducted from annual income tax.
The thought of changing your community or the community that supports your business for the better should be reason enough to consider CSI. It should also inspire you to find other ways to pay it forward.
Find out more about donations to NPOs as part of CSI initiatives here.