Tag Archives: Corporate Social Responsibility

Social Ventures – improving lives of the less fortunate in a sustainable manner –a new career path for MBAs?

By Nyan Kyaw, Myanmar, Nanyang MBA Intake 2011

When we look at the traditional career path and aspiration of an MBA holder, it is to move into high paying lucrative careers such as consulting, banking and finance, marketing and so on. But lately, there has been a rising interest in another industry, a relatively new industry and that is, social ventures or enterprises.

The NANYANG MBA Students with Ms Thilma Komaling Banyuputro (1st row, 5th from left) - (left to right, 1st row) Myanmar Nyan Kyaw, American Samir Mowla, Indonesian Wahyu Widianti, Chinese Zhou Dan, Ms Thilma, MBA Office Management Grace Wee and Charlotte Kong; (left to right, 2nd row) Indonesian Djoko Tanto Wijoyo, and Vietnamese Vu Manh Tran Hung.

Unlike charities, the focus of social ventures is not to provide hand outs, but with a combination of business acumen, social consciousness and some creativity. Social ventures seek to improve the lives of the less fortunate in a sustainable manner.

With that in mind, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Club of The NANYANG MBA invited Ms Thilma Komaling Banyuputro, a social enterprise development consultant who has given up her successful career in petroleum industry to pursue her life calling – to share some of her experiences working for a social venture. The event was an intimate setting for an exchange of life-changing experiences and ideas among 10 like-minded peers.

What I have noticed is most people working in the social venture do not set out planning to work for a social venture, but they are moved by a certain event in their lives which compels them to do so. For Thilma, the turning point was the series of earthquakes in Aceh. After seeing the disasters and the tragedies on the news, she realized it is her life’s calling to help the less fortunate in any manner that she could.

As one of our fellow Nanyang MBA peer, Indonesian Wahyu Widianti shared her realization from the talk: “Follow your heart and your passion. The energy coming from the passion is very powerful for you to do many great things for the community.” And this was what Thilma actually did – being moved by her passion to help those who are less fortunate and in need.

Over the next 2 years, Thilma spent her life juggling between career and volunteering for charities and social ventures. Finally, she took the plunge and devoted her life solely on social ventures. Currently, she is working for Rumah, a low cost mobile phone carrier in Indonesia. The aim of the venture is to provide poor families in the rural areas of Indonesia with access to mobile phones and also create jobs. Continue reading Social Ventures – improving lives of the less fortunate in a sustainable manner –a new career path for MBAs?

The NANYANG MBA Olympics – Collaboration Through Competition for a Cause

By: Eric Oandasan, Filipino, Nanyang MBA Intake 2011
Club Co-Chair, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The vaguely bright Sunday early morning of 18th March at the NTU Sports & Recreation Center came in with a flurry of activity: banners being hung, tables carefully unfolded, balls being rigorously pumped with air, heaps of goodie bags and canned drinks unloaded. At 9:00 AM, groups of participants from various Singapore MBA schools came in droves to register, collect goodie bags and start stretching exercises in preparation for the long day of sports. The morning was filled with anticipation, excitement, and a sense of hopefulness that the typically unpredictable Singapore weather will keep the athletes dry and cool.

The NANYANG MBA organizers
Continue reading The NANYANG MBA Olympics – Collaboration Through Competition for a Cause

Visiting nature – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Club goes biking in Pulau Ubin

by Eric Oandasan, Filipino, CSR Club Co-Chair, Nanyang MBA participant, Intake 2011

A few months into the program, being stuck inside the air-conditioned, sometimes freezing confines of the classroom, can sure take its toll on our ‘sanity’. Offering a refreshing escape from the city, the CSR Club held its first event at Pulau Ubin, an island off Singapore’s main island, one of the few reserved spots in Singapore untouched by urban development. Already a popular tourist destination, the small island brought 15 of us, mostly city-dwellers, to a brief experience back to nature. Coming from various cultural backgrounds, from Europe to Asia, and having experienced nature treks in our own countries, we were looking forward to this common yet different experience from our rather predictable city life.

One of the many mangroves dotting Pulau Ubin

Continue reading Visiting nature – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Club goes biking in Pulau Ubin

The CSR Asia Forum on Sustainability Disclosure 2011

Author: Mandar Gori, Vice President (Sustainability), Student Executive Committee, The Nanyang MBA

As the Student Executive Committee member representing the CSR and other clubs at The Nanyang MBA, I have been associated with the CSR and sustainability related activities for the past 8 months. The CSR Asia Forum on Sustainability Disclosure 2011 introduced me to this very interesting topic of sustainability reporting.

I truly believe that the event was very well organized by CSR Asia.

CSR Asia is a provider of information, training, research and consultancy services on sustainable business practices in Asia. I’m proud that The Nanyang Business School is actually the academic partner for The CSR Asia Forum.

The welcome address was given by Jenny Costelloe, Director at CSR Asia, and who is also an alumnus of The Nanyang MBA. The presentation by Simon Lord on a business case on sustainability reporting at his company New Britain Palm Oil was very informational.

Six different workshops were arranged for the second half of the day out of which I could attend the one on GRI – The international reporting framework by Sean Gilbert from Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). I know that Dr. Patricia Tan, our school’s Associate Professor in Accounting also shared her insights into recent developments in sustainability reporting, trying to raise awareness of this new international trend as well as to promote such practice in Singapore.

This event has definitely opened my eyes to the future of public reporting of sustainability initiatives in the corporate world and its importance to the business. Cheers and congratulations to the CSR Asia team for such a successful event!

The first Singapore MBA Olympics for a cause- an experience to remember and treasure

Authors: Jaiganesh Pasupathy, Snigdha Nandan Co-Chairpersons, The Nanyang MBA CSR Club, Mandar Gori, VP Sustainability, The Nanyang  MBA Student EXCO

From its inception to the final handing over of the cheque to The Cambodia Trust, the first MBA Olympics among Singapore MBA students has been a journey involving fun, teamwork and positive spirit. We’re so glad to announce that the event was a success!

As the event was inaugural or the first of its kind, we had a lot to plan and organise. We’re truly thankful to those who made this happen, our classmates from The Nanyang MBA for volunteering their services and also to our sponsors, especially the major sponsor,  City Development Limited (CDL) , and the other sponsors  (CDC, SPH, GNC, DHL, MacDonald’s and Frolick)  that understood the impact this event can bring.

There were five business schools involved: INSEAD, SMU, NUS, S.P. Jain and Nanyang itself. There were over 90 participants, and though the competition were intense, there were good sportsmanship demonstrated throughout the day, and we all had a lot of fun! We competed in four sports, namely Basketball, Badminton, Futsal and Table Tennis.

Our team did our best in the CDL MBA Olympics and Nanyang eventually emerged victorious for both Futsal and Basketball!

Through this event, we managed to raise a total of $5,342 for The Cambodia Trust. The cheque was officially handed over to Michael Scott, the Country Director of The Cambodia Trust. It wasn’t his first time being around Nanyang MBA students here in Singapore, and we do hope it won’t be his last.

After the ceremony, Michael told us more about the various initiatives taken on by The Cambodia Trust. The new information only intrigued us further in the cause and in fact, we’re continuing to support The Cambodia Trust. This June, we’re geared up for more action. The CSR Club is exploring time to visit Cambodia! It’s only a few months away, and we cannot wait.

At the end of the sporting events, we had a short gathering to celebrate the various obstacles we’d overcome and the victories that were achieved.

It’s truly been a challenge but an extremely worthwhile experience for all of us, a journey we’re not likely to forget. The three of us were really honoured to work with such a capable group of people and for such a worthy cause. This heralds a new beginning for Nanyang Business School’s CSR club and we are sure it will continue to create awareness about CSR and make a difference in the society we live in.

Sustainability guru Prof Marc Epstein speaks on Sustainability and the Bottom Line

NBS was pleased to have leading sustainability guru, Professor Marc Epstein of the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University in Houston, Texas, speak in the recently launched NBS Dean’s Seminar Series on Sustainable Development.

A Distinguished Research Professor of Management at the American business school, he has done extensive research, consulting and teaching in the sustainability area.

Prof Epstein’s talk on May 6th at NTU@one-north campus focused on Sustainability and the Bottom Line – a topic that is of interest to all in the business world as it is a significant challenge to concurrently measure and manage social and financial performance.

CEOs of global corporations and SMEs alike have recognised that managing stakeholder interests and the social, environmental and economic impact of corporate products, services, processes and other activities is critical for both financial and sustainability success, he said.

Based on his extensive research and advisory work with leading global companies like Nike, Proctor & Gamble, Shell and Nissan, Prof Epstein described how they had successfully integrated sustainability into their businesses and increased both financial and sustainability success.

The leadership challenge in corporations is the competing pressures to produce profits and to be a good corporate citizen. The good thing is that managers increasingly understand that these are linked. Already concepts like waste reduction – where you help to save the environment and “make money” by reducing wastage, and similarly improve product design to enhance efficiency, are well understood and practiced.

But increasingly tremendous thought was being given to integrating social and environmental risks with huge capital investment decisions. For instance, companies have to consider what would be the impact on their business if the consumers were to boycott their products if they were to use child labour or cause oil spills and the like.

Professor Epstein delivering his talk in the NBS Dean’s Seminar Series at NTU@one-north campus.

“When these events occur, companies and investors are typically both surprised and unprepared. And, such events are occurring more often,’’ Prof Epstein pointed out.

All companies must better anticipate external consequences of their activities and need to better anticipate social consequences. While some social impacts turn into crises, thankfully most do not, he said.

Among the social and political issues businesses need to look out for are: child labour and poor working conditions, environmental emissions, nationalisation of industries, joint venture partner risks, unstable or corrupt governments, potentially dangerous products, nutrition and obesity, and interrupted or unsafe supply.

At the same time there can be opportunities to convert a risk into an opportunity. For instance due to the public focus on nutrition and obesity, PepsiCo is very concerned about nutritional issues impacting its business and “is having a lot of its people look into it and look for new ways of doing business by coming up with new products,’’ Prof Epstein said.

“It is no longer only about risk and compliance – it is also about innovation and opportunity to simultaneously achieve excellence in sustainability and financial performance.’’

This requires more innovation and entrepreneurship from sustainability leaders, start-ups and SMEs, and more sensitivity to sustainability issues by innovation and R&D leaders, and business unit and functional leaders, he added.

Driving social and financial improvements through sustainability requires strong and innovative leadership. This is because businesses need to be innovative in both products and processes, for which they need both technological innovation in products and business model innovation in processes.

Prof Epstein also stressed that investors and lenders should encourage companies to integrate environmental, social and governance issues into operational and capital investment decisions.

“Early consideration provides enormous opportunities for companies of all sizes to be creative, innovative and achieve entrepreneurial success,’’ he added.
The talk was followed by a lively question-and-answer session.

Singapore Exchange SVP & CFO Mr Seck Wai Kwong’s talk on Corporate Social Responsibility

Mr Seck Wai Kwong, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Singapore
Exchange Ltd (SGX), spoke on corporate social responsibility (CSR) on April 21, in the
school in the newly launched Dean’s Seminar Series on Sustainable Development.

He is also Chairman of the NBS Graduate Advisory Board.

Professor Gillian Yeo, Interim Dean, said in her welcome that the topic is particularly
important to us as we nurture future business leaders.

Mr Seck said CSR could be broadly defined as the proactive and deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision making, and voluntarily not engaging in
practices that could have a negative public impact.

“CSR is about achieving a “triple bottom line’ of People, Planet and Profit by doing the
right thing in the process,’’ he added.

The goals of CSR are not, and should not be counter to commercial interest, but can
complement each other, Mr Seck said. There were many eminent examples, one of
which is Toyota’s focus on green technology and its fuel-efficient Prius car.

Mr Seck’s talk covered SGX’s own CSR journey, why companies and organizations
should take CSR seriously and finally on what NBS can do to promote CSR.

For SGX, CSR takes on a special dimension as SGX is both the operator and regulator
of Singapore’s listing platform, as well as a listed company.

“This means we always have to play a balanced and multi-faceted role. Our
stakeholders include more than just shareholders and staff. It includes institutions
such as our members and their customers, listed companies and investors; vendors
and regulators, and to some extent, the society at large.”

Mr Seck highlighted SGX’s initiatives like the Bull Charge – a fun run for charity, and
sending out the annual report in a CD – with the number of requests for a hardcopy
annual report down to less than 2% out of a shareholder base o over 30,000, as some of the efforts to promote CSR.

As for why companies and organizations should take CSR seriously, he said among the reasons were that shareholders are interested in CSR, CSR companies give attractive
returns to shareholders, CSR is good for branding, it gives companies freedom to
operate, CSR can create new business opportunities and that it is the right thing to

Mr Seck said that for its part as a business school, NBS can do two big things.
First, it can be a CSR champion within the university community and beyond, even
nationally and internationally.

“Another local university has a Corporate Governance and Financial Reporting Centre.
I’m not aware of any university research centre established in Singapore to examine
the broader CSR/ESG issues. Would NBS take on this mantle and lead the way? This
whole area of CSR provides fertile grounds for academic research and application,’’ he

The second thing NBS can do could be even more impactful as it can impact the
thousands of students who come through its doors every year with a CSR
consciousness that lasts a lifetime.

“Think of the multiplier effect your CSR-conscious graduates will have on the
thousands of companies they join and the families they will have.

“In fact I believe many of our NBS students today are already very socially and
environmentally aware. Our job is to encourage that, reinforce that, and demonstrate
that CSR is something that is not faddish but applicable, relevant and necessary in
the real world of business,’’ Mr Seck added.

His talk was followed by a lively question-and-answer session.

PUB chief talks about how water scarcity was turned into an opportunity

NANYANG BUSINESS SCHOOL has launched a Dean’s Seminar Series on Sustainable Development as part of its strategy of producing business leaders for a sustainable world.

The inaugural talk was given by Mr Khoo Teng Chye, Chief Executive, PUB Singapore. He spoke on Ensuring Water Sustainability for Singapore: Turning Scarcity into Opportunity. Over 70 faculty, graduate students and staff attended the talk held in the school on March 10.

In her welcome remarks, Professor Gillian Yeo, Interim Dean, said that the school aims to prepare its students to become business leaders who focus on the triple bottom line of profit, planet and people.

Managing the water loop: Mr Khoo Teng Chye, Chief Executive, PUB Singapore, delivering the inaugural talk.

Prof Yeo said the new seminar series aims to enhance the capabilities of all at NBS to incorporate sustainability issues in the curriculum, research, policies and processes.

“The seminar series will provide a forum for us to listen to and interact with outstanding practitioners and academics with deep expertise and knowledge in specific aspects of sustainability,’’ she added.

In his presentation Mr Khoo highlighted that while Singapore gets enough rain, it does not have the land to collect and store the water due to competing needs of land for other uses in the small island nation.

The PUB manages the whole water cycle, key to which is the use of membranes to reclaim water.

The national water agency aims to provide “Water for all”. This is coupled with the approach to involve the community and companies to Conserve, Value and Enjoy the water.

Singapore has four national taps: local catchment, imported water, NEWater and desalinated water.

As water is a valuable resource, the PUB would like all to help conserve it, value it and enjoy it.

While half of Singapore was already water catchment area, this is being increased to two-thirds by 2011 through an urban storm water collection system and raising the number of reservoirs from 14 to 17 by the addition of Punggol and Serangoon reservoirs and the Marina Barrage.

Mr Khoo said that a combination of strategies was used to achieve water sustainability for Singapore. The effective use of membrane technology to produce NEWater means that it can meet 30 per cent of the country’s water needs this year. However, only 2 per cent was being added to reservoirs for public consumption, while direct supply was being made to industrial users in view of the high quality of the water.

Desalination was expensive compared to using membrane technology, which had brought down the cost considerably.

At the same time a water conservation strategy was employed based on pricing, voluntary and mandatory approach. As a result the per capita consumption of water had dropped significantly since 2003, he added.

As water is an important resource, the National Research Foundation has set aside $330 million over five years as part of the efforts to grow Singapore water industry with the target to increase the value add from $0.5 billion to $1.7 billion and double the number of jobs to 11,000 by 2015.

The talk was followed by a lively discussion

Singapore aims to become a global hydrohub with technology as the key pillar based on cluster development, technology development and internationalization.

Already there is a vibrant water industry here with many international players in R&D activity, regional operations and business headquarters.

The R&D ecosystem includes the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute at NTU and several other public and private R&D centres.

Mr Khoo highlighted that over the last three years there had been a five-fold increase in the value of overseas water related projects secured by Singapore companies.

The marketing and branding of Singapore water industry was being done through engaging with international organizations and organizing the Singapore International Week.

Mr Khoo said Singapore universities could play a role in developing the water industry through education, research and consultancy. Particularly, there is a need to develop water entrepreneurs. The water industry needs business managers, not just technical experts.

Research and consultancy support is needed to bring new technology to market. The financing of water projects, water pricing and regulation, and climate change issues were some of the other areas that need attention, he added.

The NANYANG MBA Associate Dean talks about CSR in roundtable discussion : Sustainability can boost profits

Businesses are facing increasing global pressure to pursue sustainable growth by managing stakeholders’ interests and the social, environmental and economic impact of their products, services, processes and other activities to achieve both financial and sustainable success. In fact, businesses can turn this into an opportunity to boost their bottom line.

In a Business Times-Nanyang Business School Roundtable discussion series, senior professors at Nanyang Business School and a visiting professor at the school who is a global authority on the subject, examine how businesses can promote sustainability and suggest some ways of integrating it into their operations to achieve a better bottom line.

Click here for full article

The Cambodian Trust Pops By

Felix S., Britain

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Club had a guest last month. Mike Scott, Country Director of The Cambodia Trust, an international NGO started in the UK for Cambodia, visited us. The Cambodia Trust was set up in 1989 by three British, in response to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr Hun Sen’s plea for assistance to the country’s thousands of landmine survivors.

After three decades of war, Cambodia is left with one of the highest rates of physical disability of any country in the world. More than 40,000 Cambodians have suffered amputations as a result to mine injuries since 1979.

The Cambodia Trust primarily helps these amputees with prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation, with donations they receive from around the world. To date, they have already helped some 5000 patients, with at least 50 to 60 patients coming in for treatment everyday for this free service.

Apart from this prosthetics service, The Cambodia Trust started the Cambodia School of Prosthetics and Orthotics in 1994, building the foundation for sustainable and locally-run rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. This fulfills the severe shortage of such services in developing countries, which is mostly provided for, by foreigners with the expertise. Over the last decade, 3 more schools were set up in Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Jakarta.

As mobility is the first step towards self-sufficiency, an artificial limb, brace or wheelchair can make the difference between employment and begging on the streets. The rehabilitation scheme ensures a view of the larger picture by means of giving patients an improved way of life, over and above the physiotherapy services given to patients who have received new prosthetics. Some of these initiatives are: easy access for children with disabilities in schools, giving access to disabled young adults for skills training and giving out grants to disabled adults to establish small businesses.

In a country where the government’s support is limited and sometimes inconsistent, The Cambodia trust can only look to private organizations or willing individuals for help. Its funds were heavily depleted during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, making its day-to-day operations a big problem.

The CSR Club of The NANYANG MBA has taken up this challenge and will work with The Cambodia Trust to introduce strategic ways forward to raise funds and create sustainable plans for it.

Mike Scott (3rd from left, front row) with The NANYANG MBA CSR Club members