In India, for about 830 million men, women and children living in rural areas, the idea of accessible and affordable medicines is very bleak. An estimated 65% of the country’s population does not have access to healthcare. This would blow your mind. We see the same thing in Africa. In some countries, when you seek medical attention, you are often informed that there is no medication and advised to go to the big hospitals, which the majority of the poor cannot afford. Stories of pregnant women dying before they could be taken to a hospital for childbirth abound a lot, or that of young kids dying from diseases and illnesses that can be cured, but lack of proper healthcare facilities proved otherwise.
One ingenious company in India took on this challenge and are creatively solving it. Launched by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the ‘Arogya Parivar’ initiative (means Healthy Families in Hindi) offers effective, low-cost medications against infectious and chronic diseases that are prevalent in rural India, delivers health education to approximately 24 million people and provides health diagnosis and treatment to 2.5 million people.
This puts the spotlight on a new direction of private organizations coming in to play their part to solve global challenges. The trend has always been that social development could be driven only by the government. Before now, there was a common line of thought that the government, backed by donations from philanthropists were the only one’s who could drive social development. This somehow makes the idea of social change and impact to be viewed from the lens of public good only rather than seen as a pathway to more rounded development.
But this ideology is rapidly dropping out of relevance. This is as a result of the explosion of new drivers and models of social change which are springing up in the private sector and even amongst corporate philanthropies. There is a move by the private sector to begin to take a more strategic approach to the idea of delivering value and impact, and this is in turn, giving the age-long practice of Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, a whole new perspective and direction.
Over the years, Corporate Social Responsibility has become increasingly important in today’s world, as it takes on various formats such pro-bono work, product donations, financial contributions, employee community service days and many more creative ways. Organizations are not only just doing good; they are also gaining important traction in achieving business goals. What this gives us is a win-win situation. This is because organizations are able to enjoy the gains of delivering CSR programmes, while still expanding their footprints in the social impact space.
For Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the ‘Arogya Parivar’ program was so commercially viable that it began returning a profit after thirty months. This is exactly how organizations are doing good, yet making a profit.
More than ever, organizations now have a unique opportunity to deliver socially-focused initiatives, not just as a tool to hunt for goodwill, but also as a strategic move to create opportunities that will bring about short, intermediate and long term benefits.
One way organizations need to begin to think in order to hit the triple bottom line is by engaging well thought through corporate sustainability initiatives. This includes remodeling their core businesses so as to align with the broader sustainability agenda, and drive long-term social, environmental and financial growth.
Knight & Bishop works with bold-thinking organizations in the private space seeking to profit purposefully and play a part in surmounting the roadblocks to catalytic philanthropy. We work with such organizations to help use their social-focused and mission-driven initiatives to differentiate and grow faster with next generation solutions and smarter business models.