As the Indian CSR sector continues to focus on strengthening the healthcare system, fixing its many loopholes brought forward by the recent pandemic, the sector is yet to witness a strategic, long term and impact-oriented CSR investment towards long-term impact. In the case of rural areas and tier 2 towns, the situation is worse. People continue to grapple with inadequate human resources and poor infrastructure and are forced to travel to the nearest urban cities for treatments, especially for critical care. Of the several challenges faced by these markets, the lack of access to quality healthcare, lack of knowledge and awareness among people, availability of skilled doctors, and of course, lack of updated systems and equipment are critical challenges that actually hinder the path of life, especially in the case of critical care.
Even then, most CSR funding for healthcare happens without an adequate understanding of these specific challenges. As a result, a lot of corporate and private CSR investments turn out to be quick-fix solutions with little long-term impact, like donating equipment, beds, machines, etc., making the entire effort, miserably failing to achieve the desired results. As per a recent report, up to 24% of all CSR funds are focused on healthcare. However, much of this 24% focuses on health camps, building hospitals, or donating to hospitals – all of them being short-term, ill-managed, or poorly targeted initiatives.
In addition to the lack of adequate understanding, a lot of philanthropic endeavors under the corporate radar also face internal challenges like the inefficient team needed to drive larger, long-term CSR projects, time, effort and focus needed to commit organizational resources to see through long term projects, inadequate risk management for large CapEx projects, and challenges associated with post-implementation upkeep and maintenance.
A focused approach to long-term CSR fund investments in healthcare projects will play a crucial role here in equipping the current system to cater to the complex healthcare needs of the country by bringing a systematic change and building capacity. And while there is no fixed playbook for CSR, strategic implementation of CSR may just multiply and outperform the intended impact to create a long-term change. Listed here are the 5 tips that corporate organizations and entrepreneurs should be willing to make if they desire a sustainable impact, can follow:
1. Partner with expert on-ground NGOs
Most companies end up donating funds to NGOs without having a real clarity of how these funds will be utilized to create a long-term impact in the community. Rather than simply providing monetary assistance, companies need to be more involved and shortlist NGOs that are actively engaged in conducting healthcare initiatives and are doing the real groundwork. Partnering with the right NGOs is vital for the successful implementation of long-term, capex heavy sustainable healthcare projects. Understand the key strengths and weaknesses of NGOs and help bridge the gap with expertise in terms of knowledge and human resources. Partnering with good NGOs means companies can save their time, get more hands for execution, and overall can accomplish more.
2. Adopt the PPP Model
Public-private partnership is an effective way to ensure CSR funds are building healthcare capacity that has the potential to bring real change and drive long-term sustainability. Corporates can partner with the government in the areas where there is a high capex and management required where Corporates are strong in these areas. Private companies’ knowledge, expertise, and capabilities for executing projects can complement the government’s capabilities to implement the healthcare policy change to build the infrastructure needed at the grass-root level. There are several policies and initiatives in place but implementation often isn’t as prompt as it should be. Companies can collaborate with the government and jointly execute the project so the responsibilities are shared and the healthcare projects are materialized faster.
3. Partner with social healthcare startups
Startups are great at innovation and a never say never drive, offering companies to partner with social incubators, and encourage them to run healthcare startup cohorts. By investing in startups that have the potential to bring a positive impact, companies can contribute to strengthening the healthcare sector as a whole. Besides, investing in such startups can spur innovation in the field of healthcare that inevitably addresses the pain points plaguing the system. Companies can co-invest with other companies in these startups. While startups receive the much-needed funding on one hand, companies’ funds are utilized the right way with a dynamic team behind to fulfill the initiatives on the other.
4. Fund an existing venture or social initiative
Identify good social initiatives and projects that are ongoing and are in need of funds. A limited partnership model could be adopted till the healthcare project is completed. There are several projects that start off with great enthusiasm but stay stuck due to lack of funding or other unprecedented obstacles. Companies can choose to mobilize their resources for speedy completion of an existing healthcare initiative or further boost and enhance initiatives that are already doing well.
5. Create a Grant
Companies can choose to create a grant and allocate funds to NGOs or other social initiatives that are in need of funding. Companies can select beneficiaries after eligibility screening so they know their funds are released only to the deserving ones. Creating a grant exclusively for healthcare projects will help companies aid hospitals and healthcare facilities in a particular geography, thus creating a long-term impact on the healthcare system.
CSR funds indeed have the potential to create a sustainable, long-term impact. While it’s true that there are numerous challenges to overcome, the solutions discussed here can help companies optimize their efforts to create a real impact on the healthcare system.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Maanoj Shah is a Chartered Accountant, a People Champion with strong Business creation, strategy and scaling-up experience. Apart from co-founding Mission ICU, he has played a key role in many social initiatives like Khaana Chahiye (Volunteer management), Co founder Corona Champions (Covid awareness initiative) & Giftchange (A platform for changemakers).