Responsible Business in India: "The Missing Variable"

SAI's Rishi Singh participates in a panel discussion about CSR initiatives' opportunities and threats in emerging markets   

August 2011

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SAI's India Project Manager, Rishi Singh speaks at the Prakruthi-hosted event "The Missing Variable" in Bangalore Indi

On August 11, Rishi Singh participated on a panel discussion at the CSR Seminar, "The Missing Variables" in Bangalore, India. The event was hosted by local Indian NGO Prakruthi. The event focused on CSR and Responsible Business in India, focusing on the 'missing variables' - the new strategies and tools required to harness the positive potential contribution of business to development issues such as poverty and social exclusion.

Over 40 attendees representing NGOs, trade unions, companies, and government agencies working at the interface of CSR and Responsible Business Initiatives in India, including GIZ, Solidaridad India, BMS-Trade Union, Bombay Rayon, and Gap Inc. During the event, achievements, limitations, and dilemmas inherent in CSR and pro-poor business models were discussed, particularly in terms of how to empower producers to incorporate and sustain these models.

The panel discussion, "Drivers of CSR, opportunities and threats in emerging markets" also included the participation of Shahamin Zaman of the CSR Centre in Bangladesh, and Periyasamy Muthulingan from the Institute of Social Development (ISD) in Sri Lanka. It was moderated by Sjoerd Panhuysen from Prakruthi.  

Mr. Singh focused on supply chain challenges pertaining to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) in India and shared insights on key issues. Typically, MSMEs have challenges affording the costs of certification. This is mostly because they lack the internal capacity to initiate and implement improvements. While they may exhibit good practices and potential for workplace improvement, it does not tend to be scalable without proper support. SAI's DFID-funded 'Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector" (RAGS) Program in India aims to address issues such as these by developing cost-effective training modules and technical assistance to suppliers in the garment sector. The project goals include building local training capacity for cost-effective trainings and the strengthening of local audit capacity.  

The RAGS Project is a two-year initiative supported by the UK Development Agency DFID aimed at improving conditions of home workers, a predominately female sector, and gender and caste discrimination. The 28-month project links with SAI's joint development partnership (PPP) in India with the BSCI and GIZ, and includes the participation of global retailers Gap Inc. and Timberland, who will engage a select group of their suppliers based in India.
 
SAI's RAGS Project will continue throughout 2011 and 2012. In 2011, the project is focused on four activities: 1) developing a Monitoring & Evaluation plan; 2) recruiting suppliers to participate- particularly those that work with homeworkers and report having issues with gender discrimination; 3) baseline analysis to help measure project impacts; and 4) development of supplier training courses curricula on home worker issues and gender discrimination.

Learn more about SAI's RAGS Project in India at www.sa-intl.org/indiarags. For more information, contact Rishi Singh, India Project Manager at RSingh@sa-intl.org.

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