GTech, the Group of Technology Companies, a strategic grouping of IT firms in Kerala, starts a focus group for Corporate Social Responsibility activities
CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility is almost a byword at Technopark, with most IT firms, if not all of them, actively involved in lending a helping hand to those in need. And over the years we have heard of a multitude of CSR activities initiated by the companies, especially by the larger ones who seem to have more resources and/or man power. These activities range from blood donation drives (a regular event on campus), to organising meals and supplying necessary material comforts to the needy or simply chipping in with cash. Most of these efforts are, however, independent efforts by individual companies.
Now, GTech, the Group of Technology Companies, a strategic grouping of over 175 IT and IT enabled services companies in Kerala, has come up with a plan to start a focus group solely for CSR; a decision arrived at during its last annual general body meeting held at Technopark recently. “Since it was started in 2000, GTech has been quite successful in gaining respectability as a group and has won a place in the good books of the government for its pro-active, collective effort in initiating, steering and implementing many a project that has been beneficial to the IT community, be it business development or employee development. Now we feel it’s the time to look beyond Technopark and work towards some tangible results that bridge the gap between the people within the wall and people outside the wall. Hence, the CSR forum,” says Anoop Ambika, chief executive officer (CEO) of Kreara Solutions and secretary of GTech.
“Besides, there is this misconception that all of us who populate Technopark are rich stuff ups in suits who don’t have a care for society! For several months now, we’ve been looking at the possibility of a core group that would focus on CSR; one that could bridge the digital divide,” adds Anoop.
Notably, GTech’s earlier attempt at bridging the digital divide –the establishment of Natana, a cultural club started with the objective to “nurture the artistic talents and creative aspirations” of techies in Technopark, has “met with much success”. GTech is, of course, already involved in a number of CSR activities – buying clothes, books, sewing machines, and the like; their latest was an Ona sadya, organised in association with Abhaya, an NGO – but it had hitherto never engaged in any continuous effort at CSR.
GTech’s new CSR focus group is being spearheaded by P. Vijayakumar, CEO of Testhouse India Pvt. Ltd, who in the words of GTech’s former CEO Binu Sankar “is passionate about CSR; someone willing to spend time and resources for various CSR projects”. Says Vijayakumar: “GTech is a community of over 40,000 techies and just by sheer number alone it has the potential to do CSR activities on a scale that has never been done before in Kerala. The objective of such a focus group is to synergise all our available resources and skills to make a lasting impact and also to do something that involves a huge amount of employee engagement – something that each techie in each member company can contribute towards.”
The focus group is still in the early stages of planning but as a preliminary step it is already in talks with the Vazhuthacaud-based Coin A Day Child Care Foundation as one of its primary beneficiaries. Founded in 2009, the NGO focusses on ‘supporting talented young girls from single parent or orphaned families who have the desire and drive to achieve a better future’. “These girls, currently there are 22, are among the most vulnerable in society. But all of them have ambitious plans for the future,” says Vijaykumar.
And unlike most stop gap CSR activities, Vijaykumar says that GTech has plans for a “long term strategy” to lend a helping hand to Coin A Day. “We’re planning a direct mentoring relationship with the children – tutoring them in English, math, science, computers…,” says Vijayakumar, as Anoop adds: “Using our skills at project management and entrepreneurship, we plan to take Coin A Day and at a later stage, other similar self-help groups, to the next level. Ultimately, we want to make these organisations self-sufficient.”