What is corporate responsibility? Corporate responsibility is defined as corporations having a responsibility to the groups and individuals it can affect such as its stakeholders and to society at large. Stakeholders can usually be defined as customers, suppliers, employees, larger communities, shareholders or even other financiers.
Corporate responsibility can also come in many different forms. Some companies choose to launch staff volunteer programmes where staff can volunteer their time to help those in need. Others may start a scheme in a country affected by adverse conditions, whether that be extreme poverty or a deadly disease outbreak.
Fruitful Office is one company who is doing corporate responsibility right. Every time a basket of their fruit is consumed by their customers, they are giving back by planting fruit trees in Malawi. With one fruit tree planted for each fruit basket consumed, they really are giving back. When it comes to fruit trees, they tend to opt for papaya or guava trees but they do also plant quick growing trees such as Senna Siamea in order to provide firewood for the local people.
It is often found that many large companies are collaborating with charities when trying to be corporately responsible and the same can be said for Fruitful Office who are collaborating with the UK charity RIPPLE Africa who work in Malawi itself. The trees planted on behalf of the company are planted by local people themselves and 35 trees are planted for each 10,000 families. That is a lot of trees – and not only that but farmers, community clubs and schools are also growing between 1000 and 5000 tree seedlings each – training and equipment is given to those so they can learn how to plant them properly and they are monitored throughout the year to ensure as many as possible are ready for when the rainy season hits.
How can companies learn and take inspiration from Fruitful Office for this? Simply put, their scheme is helping out Malawian families who are living in intense poverty. Not only does the planting of trees provide them with food in the form of fruit but they are also supplied with firewood also. It doesn’t all have to be used for their own consumption either, it can be used to generate an income too!
Why is planting trees so important in Malawi though? It is providing sources of food for consumption and income generation but it is also important as deforestation is a major issue in Malawi. Plenty of African communities believe that setting fire to forests will improve agriculture so they constantly cut trees down and set them on fire. This is not the case, however, with only the top soil actually being fertile, a top soil that is thus washed away when the trees themselves are cut down. It is important to educate Malawians and fellow Africans on how to grow new trees and care for them, show how valuable they are to them not only as an income source but a food source too and prove to them that deforestation is not the way.
More businesses are starting to see just how important corporate responsibility is and are launching campaigns across the world. They can take inspiration from Fruitful Office’s successful campaign which had seen almost a million trees planted by the end of 2014 as part of the campaign. Farmers have been educated on how valuable the trees are seeing their trees thrive – and thus their food sources and income sources are increasing too.
There are so many benefits to being corporately responsible as a business and it is mostly assumed that as a business grows, it should give back something to the local and wider communities. Most big companies will have some form of corporate responsibility campaign in place whether it is taking place within the UK in the means of a staff volunteer programme or whether it is further afield, tackling major issues in the Third World. Such schemes benefit both the community and the business with businesses receiving larger brand awareness, a higher level of trust from the world as a whole and the knowledge that they are making a contribution to the world, no matter how big or small.
Corporate responsibility is also a major issue when it comes to investors. Many investors now want companies to have some form of corporate responsibility campaign in place before investing their own time and money into said company. With investors becoming more ethically minded and wanting more from the companies they hope to invest in, perhaps companies who are starting to think about launching a scheme, whether it be based in the UK or elsewhere, can look to Fruitful Office for some inspiration and ideas on what can work. They definitely seem to be doing something right.