CSI must change gear to confront the new reality

Here is an article I wrote for the publication, “CSI: The Human Face of Business” which was included in the Financial Mail during October 2020. 

It explores how Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives have had to radically rethink their approach when confronted with the impact of Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown on their beneficiaries. The strategies that they had fine-tuned over the years needed to rapidly pivot and innovate.

This article explores several lessons that CSI managers have needed to learn, and which will hopefully remain.

I suggest that CSI managers must assess the stark reality of the social, economic and environmental problems that are confronting South Africans, and simultaneously cultivate hope that they can make a lasting difference.

Social enterprise: converging social and profit missions

Trialogue published the 21st edition of the Business in Society Handbook (formally the CSI Handbook) in November 2018.

I contributed to a Q&A on social enterprise. Read my answers on the nature of social enterprise in South Africa, the challenges they are facing, and the opportunities for businesses to partner with them.

How a business can become a social enterprise

This 1-page Strategy Brief shares 8 strategies that businesses can use to integrate elements of a social enterprise into their thinking and operations. This also shows how it is possible to adapt one’s legal form to introduce social enterprise elements.

Journey to social enterprise

Social enterprises do not magically appear. They are the result of many years of hard work. The good news is that thousands of South African organizations have set out on their journey to become social enterprises.

This presentation describes the Journey to Social Enterprise. It is based on 20 years of observation and consulting to aspiring social enterprises.

It describes how non-profit organizations and businesses can move towards a state of social enterprise. It unpacks and names the strategic transition points that organizations need to overcome when moving towards social enterprise. It also describes the specific skills that organizations need to master at each transition point.

How a business can become a social enterprise

This article was published in the June 2015 edition of the Small Business Connect newspaper. It is part 11 in a series of 11 articles that unpacks the mind-set of a social enterprise and discusses the principles from Think like a Social Enterprise.

This particular article discusses eight tactics that businesses can use to introduce social enterprise thinking into their business model. It also sheds light on how businesses can start the journey to become social enterprises.

Collaborate with businesses and give them real value

This article was published in the April 2015 edition of the Small Business Connect newspaper. It is part 9 in a series of 11 articles that unpacks the mind-set of a social enterprise and discusses the principles from Think like a Social Enterprise.

This particular article discusses the importance of seeing businesses as potential partners, rather than just a source of funding.

CapaCiti from the Cape Town IT Initiative is profiled in this edition, and its experience collaborating with IT companies to place train and place interns is discussed.

The true power of procurement: building a case for social enterprises

Even though South Africa’s social enterprise market is relatively young, the potential of using social enterprises to channel procurement spend to have a powerful social impact should act as a source of real hope for all of us. In this article I discuss how corporates can unlock this potential and overlay their existing procurement processes with a deeper sense of responsibility. I also discuss the value of committing to a more careful selection of suppliers.

This article was published in the Impact Magazine in October 2014 which was released at a conference on enterprise development.

Scaling CSI programmes

‘Scaling social impact’ is an increasingly popular concept, but what does it mean and is it achievable in CSI? How can CSI programmes balance tight budgets with achieving audacious outcomes? In this article I discuss when it is appropriate for a CSI department to consider scaling its social impact and provides some suggestions on how to achieve this.

This article was published in the Corporate Social Investment Handbook (2014) by Trialogue Publications.

How to apply social enterprise thinking to your business

Traditional businesses and non-profit organizations can both start the journey to become a social enterprise. This presentation discusses 10 things that businesses can do in order to embrace social enterprise thinking and expand their social impact.

It was first presented in June 2013 as part of the SAB Foundation’s enterprise development programme.

Business in society: let us talk the same language

The role of business in society is receiving increasing attention. There have recently been many articles on corporate social responsibility, corporate social investment and corporate philanthropy. However, there has been much confusion and inconsistency in the use of these terms. In response, Dr Roger Stewart and I propose some definitions that we hope will reduce the confusion.

View older writings

In pursuit of strategic clarity

Back to top of page ↑