Specific CSR action plan in Surinam
The Association of Surinam Industry (SVB) has placed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) high on its agenda, and recently organised training for entrepreneurs. PUM was involved in this training and viewed the mission as an opportunity to deploy the CSR tool developed by the CBI.
The Association for Suriname Industry has organised a whole series of CSR activities over the past few years, including an ISO 26000 workshop and an annual CSR Award Gala. Training by PUM is aimed at helping the participants make the switch from theory to practical action.
For PUM, the request from the Association of Surinam Industry (VSB) tied in seamlessly with the plan for trying out the new CSR tool from the Centre for Promoting Import from Developing Countries (CBI). As explained by CSR coordinator Bouwe Taverne, “There is a clear ambition within PUM to deploy CSR on a programmed basis. The tool from the CBI ties in perfectly with that aim. The mission in Surinam offered the perfect opportunity for PUM to run a pilot scheme with training for entrepreneurs.”
Bouwe Taverne (67) was employed at Rabobank Nederland until 2012 as head of the sustainable development department. Since that time, he has been employed in the financial sector and in the field of renewable energy. Since 2014 he has been staff volunteer and coordinator for CSR at PUM.
Kees van Rooden (65) has been active on behalf of PUM for 6 years. He has just retired and during a 40-year career was employed as financial director and controller. He is a PUM expert in the sector Business Consultancy, specialising in CSR.
Risks and opportunities
The tool ties in perfectly with ISO 26000. The software works like a self-assessment tool offering the company insights and useful handholds for tackling action points. As Kees explained, “You draw up an action plan based on the risks and opportunities you identify. You can then specify a period, end date, budget and communication plan for each of your solutions. Once you have a concrete action plan including budget and timetable, you have a sound basis for good discussions with the decision makers in the organisation, and CSR does not become bogged down in good intentions.”
Exports to Europa
As well as working for the Business Consultancy sector, PUM expert Kees van Rooden has specialised in CSR missions. He was made responsible for around 35 entrepreneurs in Paramaribo, over a two-day period. “CSR is attractive for entrepreneurs for example with ambitions to export goods to Europe, or wishing to become part of a supply chain. For companies aiming to increase the quality of their products or services, investments in CSR are essential.
‘As a company you must thoroughly understand your current situation and identify the action points you need to formulate.’
Participants in the training programme included a home care organisation, an optician and furniture makers. Their response to the tool was enthusiastic. In Kees’ words, “You quickly gain an understanding of the situation. You can also select either a short or a long-term plan in the system and there is an option for measuring your progress. In the final action plan there is space to identify the points you consider most essential. The whole thing remains manageable. It is importance to offer guidance to the businesses as they use the tool. That is why I offered a ‘train the trainer session’ to the staff of VSB, to help them supervise follow-up training courses.”
PUM and CBI have now converted their enthusiasm about the results of the pilot project in Surinam into a structural cooperation. Bouwe explained, “On 15 November last, with around 40 people from PUM, we practised with the tool. Starting in 2018, PUM will be able to deploy the tool itself. The system is ideal for a programmed approach. Not all the projects necessarily have to be CSR projects; it is in fact ideal for integrating CSR in broader-based programmes. In that sense, it is essential that the country coordinators and representatives include CSR in their acquisition process, so that it can be used as part of far more extensive programmes that can help entrepreneurs even further.”
Useful online tool
Eighteen months ago, the CBI developed the CSR Roadmap, a CSR tool for SME enterprises in emerging economies. Consultant Eva Smulders explained, “For companies wishing to do business with Europe, CSR is increasingly becoming a basic precondition. The tool offers them an insight into their current CSR performance, and useful pointers for improvement. Just like PUM, the aim of the CBI is to assist entrepreneurs in achieving better practice. In that sense, the tool is above all a practical instrument for improving capacity that helps them tell their story to their customers. As far as possible, the CBI based its design on OECD guidelines and international standards. Consultant Rosanne van Vianen added, “It is an online tool that we can easily keep relevant and up to date. For example, we recently added an option to allow companies to draw up a supplier code of conduct.”