CSR – mere window dressing or worth the effort?

This entry was posted by Communications Intern Hilde Faugli

Support from companies like Innocent have helped Find Your Feet develop new projects and expand on existing work in India.

If you, like me, enjoy a good smoothie, you probably know about Innocent Drinks. My weakness for Innocent smoothies is of course boosted by the fact that their drinks are made from all natural ingredients. But, there is also more.  Did you watch BBC News’ On the Road With… An Entrepreneur last weekend? It was featuring a day in the life of Richard Reed, one of the founders of Innocent, and that brought them to Find Your Feet’s offices. This is because not only are they making delicious drinks and other stuff, the company has been supporting Find Your Feet’s work in India since 2004.   

There’s a lot of debate about CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), and sometimes it is not easy to know whether a company uses CSR for pure branding reasons, or if they really want their support to matter. In the Innocent case, 10% of their profit goes to charity, most of it through an independent foundation called the Innocent Foundation.  

Innocent drinks set up the Innocent Foundation to offer long-term support to the places where they source their ingredients. India is one of these places, and also one of the countries Find Your Feet works in. Amongst other things, Innocent Foundation has supported our work with the organization Pepus, in rural Allahabad that works with improving livelihoods for Dalits through sustainable agriculture. For every £1 the foundation has donated, it has unlocked £3 from the EU. This way the project has grown from working in 10 to 63 villages, benefiting a total of 26,800 people.  Over the years the foundation’s funding of our start-up projects has enabled us to successfully apply for almost £1million in grants from the Big Lottery Fund and DFID.

What is more important is what these figures mean on the ground. The support from Innocent Foundation has been vital in enabling FYF to develop innovative new projects, expand on existing work and improve the long-term impact of our work so thousands more families have the opportunity to build the skills and confidence to lift themselves out of poverty.

One of the reasons why the partnership with Innocent foundation has such an impact, is that we share some important principles and values. Both Find Your Feet and Innocent Foundation believe that sustainability and working with local communities is imperative to both fight poverty and conserve our natural resources. Moreover, getting funding for three years at a time means that we are able to plan ahead, and focus more long-term than we would be able to if the funding was for shorter periods.

Also important is the flexibility the foundation has shown. Initially the support from Innocent went to a project called Sabla in Uttar Pradesh. However, when this project was on its feet and we secured alternative long term funding for it, we suggested to move the funding to another project where it was needed more strongly. Being able to discuss different options and having a dialogue on where the money can best be used, is beneficial for the local communities we work with. 

Clearly, CSR does not always have the same outcomes as in this case, but this goes to show that with the right intentions, and good collaboration, it can really go a long way. 

Read more about Innocent foundation here.
Read more about our work in India here.

Watch On the Road With… An Entrepreneur here (only available a few more days, so hurry!)


One Comment

  1. abhishek
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    There are children in this country who can not even write down their own names. Let’s all Stand Up against poverty in 2010.I am supporting this campaign & would like you to do the same.
    You can join the campaign on http://www.facebook.com/unmcampaignINDIA & http://twitter.com/unmcampaignIND

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