by Madelain Roscher

Good business sense

The true meaning of CSI, and the benefits thereof

DeskBags aids education
Assisting students in struggling communities

The concept of corporate social investment (CSI) is also referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR).

This is often misinterpreted by many as something that only large corporate companies address, and that the aim is specifically focused on social issues through large investments. They fail to realise, however, the importance of good corporate citizenship and why any business, regardless of its size, should be involved in addressing social issues.

In the modern business age, companies of all sizes are beginning to realise the tangible and sustainable value brought about by dedicated involvement in CSI.

This involvement is important, owing to the delicate socio-economic situation that prevails in the country, with millions of people in urgent need of basic services that will uplift them and improve their current life circumstances. 

Setting aside the obvious improvement to local communities and the legacy of South Africa, engaging in CSI projects has the capacity to make a difference to the short- and long-term prosperity of any organisation, whether it is a major banking institution or a small-to-medium enterprise. 

Companies that align themselves to an effective CSI programme will find that the business benefits are found in the form of brand recognition, increased sales, return on investment, tax benefits and, most importantly, fostering trust with employees and the general public. 

Supporting a CSI initiative is the most effective way for companies to formulate a message that their concern as a business extends beyond their own needs. They will be able to communicate that they are cognisant of the wider societal benefits that can result from heightened involvement in worthy public causes.

Perhaps one of the best examples of an initiative that creates a lasting value for both society and companies is DeskBags, a school bag that provides a portable desk solution. This CSI initiative, which is the brainchild of PR Worx, is uplifting educational standards in Africa. DeskBags offers an innovative solution to the prevailing desk shortage problem being experienced in rural areas throughout Africa, with research showing that more than 4 million scholars in South Africa require school desks. 

DeskBags provides a definitive – albeit temporary – answer to this problem, by producing a product that not only serves a purpose as a functional and eco-friendly school bag, but when folded open, it also provides instant desk support. As the bags are made from recycled vinyl billboard materials and the flap is reinforced with ABS plastic sheeting, the product is so durable that if looked after well, can last an entire school career. The bags are waterproof, reflective and light enough that even pre-primary scholars can use them. 

Companies that have participated in this CSI initiative have not only made a considerable difference to the lives of children, but have also significantly enhanced their own corporate image. These companies have been able to display their branding prominently on the DeskBag, thereby clearly demonstrating their support for a meaningful CSI and educational cause. 

Committing wholeheartedly in this regard will encourage a host of other companies to replicate these efforts and help achieve a positive legacy for our country.

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