VSO and the private sector: Together for a common vision

VSO and the private sector: Together for a common vision

By Shaleen Rakesh, Executive Director, VSO India Trust

Panellists deliberate how corporate employee volunteering can help bridge the development gap at the VSO India Trust Knowledge Exchange launch. 

For all of us at VSO India Trust the official launch of Knowledge Exchange here on 30 October was the culmination of many different conversations, plans and ideas that have been developing over several months.

Corporate employee volunteering is a crucial part of how VSO engages with the private sector. It is part of an overall mission of bringing the time, resources and skills of corporate players into the mainstay of our programme strategy.

Just in the last few weeks, VSO India Trust has finalised programmatic relationships with four key corporate organisations - IBM, Bharati Infratel, Randstad and Accenture. 

In some cases, there is an obvious overlap between the areas we work in with our corporate partners. Global resourcing company Randstad believe in what VSO India Trust is attempting to achieve through our educational interventions using technology. With telecom giant Bharati Infratel, there is a clear joint vision to develop women’s employment potential through vocational training as part of our TVET strategy.

Recent legislation brought in by the Indian government on how global NGOs are funded has created an environment that allows for greater corporate engagement, and VSO India Trust has a big role to play in harnessing this.

From left to right: Shaleen Rakesh, Executive Director, VSO India Trust, Chris Walker, Director, Global Private Sector Engagement and Partnerships, VSO International, Arun Muttreja, Trustee, VSO India Trust and Gayatri Subramaniam, Chief Programme Executive, CSR, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs.

Speaking at the Knowledge Exchange launch, Gayatri Subramaniam, of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs said that approximately 16,000 companies in India are legally required to spend 2% of their average net profits on corporate social responsibility. However, 90% of them are first timers and are not giving back to the community in a way that is equally strategic for the people they are trying to help and their own company.

Ms Subramaniam also said that corporate employee volunteering puts the strengths of both the development and corporate sectors together towards an integrated effort to get desired outcomes, and that volunteerism is not to be monetised but monitored.

For me, the Knowledge Exchange launch was a reminder that with clarity of purpose and intent, partnerships with the corporate sector can be made to work to benefit poor and marginalised communities, which is what VSO India Trust is in the long haul for. 

Connect with VSO Knowledge Exchange on LinkedIn.