It may be a hyper-local example of town improvement, but it’s enough for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to take a lesson from. The Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP) in Whitefield, following the mantra ‘Every drop makes an ocean’, has got together 40 companies under its jurisdiction to pool in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) capabilities to make Whitefield a better area. Collaborating in this endeavour is Whitefield Export Promotion Park Industrial Association (WEPPIA), and it is estimated that the total budget of the project would be close to Rs 100 crore.
Niranjan Kirvadi, manager, WEPPIA, said, “We have often heard of companies not being able to understand the best way to use the CSR funds. Some have their internal foundations as well, but for others it is a matter of concern. We believe this is the first step towards proving that CSR funds can be made impactful as well. We believe that the other tech parks will soon follow suit.” CSR representatives of the 40 companies met regularly for the past five months and have come up with a comprehensive report on the five big challenges that Whitefield faces and for which funds will be used. The challenges identified are: Swachh Bharat, clean air, water conservation and lake rejuvenation, condition of government schools, and finally, improving the living conditions of the migrant population. The companies have also come up with proposed activities that can be carried out to tackle each of the challenges which include cleanliness drives, adopting streets, adopting parks, adopting schools, reducing vehicles, among others.
Industrial body WEPPIA feels the collaboration will result in large-scale impactful CSR activity taking place in the area.
Kirvadi said, “Currently, many a time, a single school or single NGO would get a lot of focus with multiple companies engaging with them. We wanted to come up with a plan that not only stops duplication of CSR activities but also makes it more impact-oriented. With the challenges identified, we are now working out a mechanism to allocate each challenge to a set of companies.”
Clement Jayakumar, agile coach, Tesco Technology, said, “Each of the challenges were decided after discussions with the local communities, villagers of the area as well as general observation of the employees. We believe the collaborated efforts will show results and make more companies join in the efforts. We want to collectively make the area a model city.”
There are a total of 160 companies in the area.
The collaborated proposal has also made the companies realise a few mistakes they were committing over a period of the time. For example, the government schools in the area were equipped with computer labs as they were located right next to the tech park; but they had no toilets or drinking water. So, the companies will now look at an end-to-end enhancement of an area.
Ramakrishna Rao, GE community volunteer, said, “We believe in the power of collaboration. We feel it scales up the project at the same time experts in the field can also be involved. We believe more the volunteers, more the service, and better the impact. At the end of it all, it is about making a difference.”
GE India Technology will take care of the mid-day meals of Nallurhalli Government School and is also associated with seven other government schools in the area. They collectively take part in street cleaning and any community service activities in the area.
It is collectively believed that, if successful, this model would be replicated in other tech parks in the city or the country, as well.