When a business is caught up in day-to-day work, it’s easy to forget that they do not exist in isolation and are, in fact, closely intertwined with the immediate community they operate in. Leading packaging solutions provider, Expack, is acutely aware of the importance of creating social value beyond CSR, and has amplified its community engagement activities in recent years.
The clarion call for businesses to create social value has gained strength in recent times. The process of creating social value is not merely philanthropy, but is a collaborative approach which is based on mutual trust.
One of the first things Expack did was to engage with community leaders, religious leaders, and public authorities to identify the needs of the community where the company is based at, and understand what kind of challenges they face in the area. Health issues and waste management were two recurring problems in the vicinity. Apart from its CSR projects, Expack embarked on long-term community engagement activities to help create shared value both for the community and for the business.
With the support of the community, Expack sprung into action. Expack MediCare is one of its longstanding efforts and has been hailed with enthusiasm and gratitude by the residents in the Pattiwila area. For the past six years, this regular medical clinic has treated more than 30,000 patients and dispensed doctors’ services and medicine, completely free of charge.
Another concern that was earmarked was the issue of frequent flooding during heavy rain, and waste management. Expack sponsored a kilometre-long drain to help the residents of Pattiwila avoid flooding during the monsoons. During the heavy floods, last year, Expack helped ease some of the effects by supporting the flood-affected community with financial assistance and dry ration provisions.
A community notice board and a waste management programme to help keep the area clean were also community engagements efforts undertaken. Seeing the lack of a bus shelter in the locality, the company stepped in to build one for the ease of daily commuters who must brave the temperamental weather during their travels.
Robust community engagement practices help build public trust, and a sense of civic consciousness and citizenship is vital for Sri Lankan businesses. Small steps to create social value have larger ripple effects and businesses should avoid the insular mindset of focusing purely on profits and forgetting about the community it works in, or dismissing what kind of social returns it gives back to the public. Expack believes that the social progress of the community it operates in will ultimately create a better society at large and impact the business favourably. After all, a socially aware business is a sustainable one.