Reenergizing the CSR agenda in Nepal

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We just wanted to give a shot and try it. ICRI and Michael Rosenkrantz  and ENGAGEcame together to discuss about Corporate Social Responsibility in Nepal. What are its meanings? What are the perceptions and understandings behind these three letters?

We were determined not to reinvent the wheel but rather trying to build on what has been done so far and actually it is quite a lot. You can look at what National Business Initiative (NBI) and the Global Compact have been doing so far and you realize that in the past, also thanks to committed and patient donors like GIZ, something had happened. This needs to be capitalized.

Look at the different Code of Conducts so far launched. Yes the overall picture could be a bit disappointing in terms of implementation and enforcement but I feel it is already something positive that at least some theoretical frameworks have been prepared and discussed.

Then one of the biggest questions we should all ask is: why enforcement and implementation is so week? How do we move forward with something concrete and tangible?

Could it be that there is no common understanding of what we are talking about? Could it be that people are not passionate enough about the issue? Is CSR an extra burden?

So with the simple idea to reenergize the debate on CSR we have decided to organize a meeting back in March. Unexpectedly the turnout was quite impressive and we overall obtained a mandate or better we got assured that there was an interest in moving forward the agenda around CSR.

In the following months, we had the opportunity to reach out some key players like NBI, Global Compact and GIZ and we had agreed to create some sort of loose and light coordination or working group on CSR: the aim is not replacing or substituting what already exists but rather maximizing its impact.

We did not want to be too ambitious, we did not want to “scare away” potential stakeholders and interested persons. We wanted to just create a ‘soft’ enabling environment to amplify and strengthen the debate on CSR. The assumption is that with more coordination, networking and better understanding of what is going on in the country in terms of CSR, we might end up with greater impact and renewed synergies among private sector, government and civil society.

Three months are too short to reach a final verdict on our mission: for sure we know that we need to be attractive to garner the interest of potential stakeholders, companies, banks, academician, individual citizens interested to the issue.

Without too much ambition we would be more than happy to reach the following outcomes:

-a new understanding on CSR

Clarify that CSR is not only donation and charity but also implies an internal dimension that involves the operational procedures of the companies

-disseminate best practices

While it will be hard to reach a common position on CSR, it would be important to share more about what’s happening already. All the stakeholders can learn from each other. We do need to be on “competitive” mode but rather we should emphasize the cooperative/partnership approach.

-bridging the gaps

If slowly, step by step, we can allow different stakeholders to get in touch to each other and start a conversation that could lead to some sort of cooperation or partnership, our job will be done.

There is no budget nor is any budget really required. What we need is a bit of commitment and determination to carry forward this conversation about CSR in Nepal.

One of the possible ideas recently emerged is to set up a sort of monthly round table where one company or stakeholder would be invited to share its best practices. The event will be kept short and very informal. We would like to have a conducive environment to exchange ideas, get to know each other and generate a network of CSR practitioners.

Do you like the idea?


We do not have a name yet and maybe we will never have one. If you know someone interested to CSR and ethical business, please pass the words…

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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