Renewing And Revitalising India, Fullerton India’s Vision And Journey Of Fulfilling Its Role As A Socially Responsible Corporate Citizen

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Rakesh Makkar

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails” wrote the popular American author, Henry David Thoreau. The world is in the middle of one such big investment – vital for the huge transition from conventional energy sources to a more sustainable renewable energy. The experience so far shows that such a transition would create more jobs than other sources of energy as well as induce adaption of newer technologies and methods. India thus stands to gain the most from this revolution.

Given the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s thrust on raising India’s renewable energy target to 175 gigawatts by 2022, more than five times the current usage, India is expected to lead the battle against climate change. This clarion call implies that the cumulative energy capacity would have to go up by more than three times between 2016 and 2022, from 39GW in 2015 to 135GW, requiring investment of nearly USD100bn (an average USD14bn/year), according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Such a huge financial commitment also mandates that the promise of 24×7 electricity to every Indian will have to come from off-grid power (saving huge investments in conventional grids). Thus, rural areas will have small energy grids (with capacities of upto 500MW by 2021) which can help unlock the commercial potential of micro enterprises in rural India.

A CSR vision under the brand name UDAY, deep seated in renewable energy and sustainable development With its vision for UDAY that demands facilitation of sustainable development and inclusive growth through innovative socio – economic and environmental interventions, Fullerton India has already embraced the adoption of renewable energy across the enterprise. So far, it has installed solar and solar/wind hybrid systems with a total capacity of 196 KWP in 150 of rural branches (powering as much as 56 percent of all needs) across 10 states – giving it the unique distinction of being the only NBFC that uses solar energy to power its branches, thus eliminating the need for diesel-powered generators. Statistically speaking, as of December 2015, 280 MWh of clean energy has been generated, thereby saving 1,16,000 litres of diesel. This cuts the company’s carbon footprint by an impressive 310 tonnes.

‘Having very limited energy sources, India needs to focus on renewable energy as well as energy conservation to meet its future requirements. Adoption of sustainable environmental practices by accepting and applying such globally accepted means like organic farming, green technologies and use of alternative energy programmes is the other vital element of UDAY. All the programmes are completely run, coordinated and managed by the highly involved team from Gramshakti – Fullerton India’

Till July this year, the company has made investments worth Rs.5.5 crores in this initiative. The target is to generate 1,230 MWh of clean energy in the next five years, having added solar systems at 36 branches more this year which will lead to a saving of 5,14,000 litres of diesel in the next five years. By now, branches that are powered by solar energy work 30 percent more efficiently than other branches and have helped cut electricity costs by 50 percent; the annual average power downtime at these branches is less than five percent.

Having very limited energy sources, India needs to focus on renewable energy as well as energy conservation to meet its future requirements. Thus, we believe that the biggest achievement of the initiative would be the colossal awareness – this unique energy conservation initiative has helped create, in over 100 towns and among nearly one million people in the country.

Other UDAY initiatives

Education, Livelihood, Health and Environment

re2Apart from the environmentally friendly aspects, Fullerton India’s CSR objectives under UDAY, unrelated to its business or employee welfare, focusses on improving the livelihood and living standards by identifying the right technical expertise and guidance for skill development and capacity building initiatives, higher income prospects through market linkages and relevant education programmes. A key aspect of the philosophy is to boost the overall healthcare and wellness of communities; through awareness and prevention programmes focusing on eye care and nutrition, implementation of best health practices for women and improved understanding of preventive healthcare (the focus being hygiene and clean drinking water). Adoption of sustainable environmental practices by accepting and applying such globally accepted means like organic farming, green technologies and use of alternative energy programmes is the other vital element of UDAY. All the programmes are completely run, coordinated and managed by the highly involved team from Gramshakti – Fullerton India.

re3Even before the Companies Act amendment which mandated corporates to engage and invest in CSR initiatives, Fullerton India had been involved in the upliftment of underprivileged communities. The project seeks to create a consequential but long term sustainable impact by improving livelihood prospects, expanding the social well-being and embracing balanced environmental practices. Simultaneously, the other programmes such ‘Niramaya’ in healthcare, `Akshar’ in education and several environmental initiatives complete the cycle that touches every aspect of human life.

Fullerton’s Four Core Areas

Livelihood Projects

re4Pashu Vikas Divas: India has one of the largest cattle population with nearly 70 percent of it being owned by the economically poor strata of the society; hence cattle care standards are poor, reflected by a low average milk yield per animal. Fullerton India has been conducting cattle care camps for addressing various needs of cattle owners as a part of its Pashu Vikas Project under which Integrated Livestock Development centres oversee breeding and feeding, and nutritional requirement for cattle to develop a progeny of high milk-yielding animals. As of now, 20 ILD centres reach out to 285 villages across Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In FY 15-16, over 6500 Artificial Insemination (AI) took place and 50 improved breed of calves were born.

Last year, Pashu Vikas Diwas (November 21, 2015) was held across 193 Fullerton India branch locations (2,420 employees were actively engaged) in nine States, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. The activity helped 41,176 cattle across 20,000 households in 250 villages, providing check-up and advisory sessions to cattle owners on increasing the yield for milch animals.

Jeevika is another skill development project for women in indigenous vocations such as commercial stitching and tailoring and beauty hair care. Till date, Jeevika programmes have been conducted in 250 Gramshakti locations spread across 10 States. These include Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. These initiatives are focused on creating self-employment and entrepreneurship development for rural women so as to help them become economically self-reliant.

re5Gurukul Skill Development Programmes for the youth intends to meet the skill shortage among the youth to be employed in the banking and financial sector. The 180- hour residential programme imparts technical as well as skills to prepare the youth to be job-ready. In its three centres in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, the Company has so far trained over 500 with almost of 70 percent of them finding employment. Educational programmes designed for the economically backward are clubbed under the Akshar Project. These include Personality Development and English Speaking programmes for the economically weaker urban youth (as of March 2016, 250 youth across Maharashtra and Karnataka were benefited), Reading Improvement programme for children (6-15 years) that improves learning levels and reduces dropouts.

‘Fullerton India has been conducting cattle care camps for addressing various needs of cattle owners as a part of its Pashu Vikas Project under which Integrated Livestock Development centers oversee breeding and feeding, and nutritional requirement for cattle to develop a progeny of high milk-yielding animals’

Healthcare Initiatives

re6Under Niramaya healthcare initiatives, `Jyoti’ – Save the Eye project is undertaken to provide access to quality eye care, enhances awareness on diabetes-related eye ailments and child eye health issues, address ‘avoidable blindness’ and rehabilitate the visually challenged. Fullerton India is supporting eight Vision Care Centres and one Mobile Vision Care Van across India. Over 25,000 patients have been screened under Jyoti and over 2500 patients have been supported for cataract surgeries with various partners. Another special project is the camp for refractive eye care among children. Over 1200 health camps have been conducted thereby benefiting over 80,000 people in 560 villages in the States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the past fiscal.

Within the general healthcare, mobile medical camps conduct primary health check-ups providing free medicines, child nutritional supplements and blood sugar screening. Each patient gets a detailed health card and the back-up from a 24×7 call center for emergencies. Consultations with specialist doctors are also arranged daily, free of cost, in case of complications. In the last fiscal, more than 1200 camps were conducted across 35 locations in more than 500 villages across Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, benefitting over 80,000 patients.

Children-focused Initiatives

Fullerton India has partnered with a leading NGO to provide nutritious school meals as part of its mid-day meal programme. Till date, these meals have been provided in 20 government schools across Karnataka and Gujarat, thereby benefitting over 3125 children. Fullerton India has also supported comprehensive health checks in around 20 government schools across Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu benefiting 7500 children.

Testimonials

P. Vasantha of Keelavalavu, Tamil Nadu has been a Fullerton India Gramshakti patron for the last four years. She and her husband both worked as labourers to support their family. Vasantha wanted to do more with her life and make a difference. So in July 2012, she attended a CSR Vocational Training workshop on jewellery making with semi-precious stones organised by Fullerton India. This was like a blessing in disguise for her because a month after she joined the course, a misfortune struck. The granite company Vasantha worked was shut down and she lost her job. With a house to run and debts to pay, Vasantha’s newly acquired jewellery making skills came to the rescue. Though she started with an initial earning of Rs.100 per day, she soon expanded her business and also managed to train some women to work with her. With increased orders from buyers, Vasantha dreams of expanding her business further. She thanks Fullerton India for providing her with the opportunity to take charge of herself and that of her family and help her become a successful entrepreneur. Shahenazbanu and her husband Aiyubbhai reside in Khambat, Gujarat. They have been working as embroidery labourers for the past four years. Their embroidery work earned them only Rs. 3000 a month. This is not enough to feed a family of five so Aiyubbhai drives a lorry to generate more income. A few months back, Shahenazbanu attended an embroidery workshop organised by Fullerton India at the Khambhat branch. Shahenazbanu learnt different kinds of embroidery designs and other ancillary items like zari work, diamond fixing etc. She also learned how to source materials and importantly, how to market the finished product. Post the workshop, Shahenazbanu purchased an embroidery book and learned more designs on her own as well. An enterprising Shahenazbanu now purchases cloth from the retail market, embroiders and sells the final product to traders. She has already started earning an additional income of Rs. 2,500 – 3,000/- monthly. Shahenazbanu and Vasantha are now confident about achieving their dream of providing better education and to their children, ensuring a better future. The entire family is thankful to Fullerton India.

Environment Preservation – Krishi Mitra

In line with adopting environment friendly practices, Fullerton India had financed two lakh solar lanterns, 30,000 water filters and 42,000 eco cook stoves, benefiting more than two lakh rural households in FY 15.

A major programme under this initiative is Krishi Mitra – Organic Farming. Initiated in 2013, this project educates the community about organic farming, its benefits and the process of organic certification for better return from their agriculture produce. The project identifies youths who would then undergo extensive training in organic farming before being certified as a Krishi Mitra.

re7Fullerton India has launched this project in association with ‘MYRADA-Krishi Vigyan Kendra’ at two places in Tamil Nadu and in association with ‘Vidya Prathisthan School of Biotechnology (VSBT)’ at eight places in Baramati, Maharashtra. Overall, 24 progressive farmers were trained with details on organic farming concepts and practical demonstrations through a seven day residential programme. Post-training, they are certified as Krishi Mitra and are associated with the local NGOs. In the last fiscal, 125 awareness programmes were conducted benefitting over 1000 farmers.

Further under the environment sustainability initiative, skill-based training in new ‘Bee-keeping and Rearing’ technologies is being imparted to supplement the income from agriculture. The project has benefited 210 households in Tamil Nadu so far.

It was the great Mahatma Gandhi who said that the `earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed’. It is true that when the quality of life goes down for the environment, quality of human life also diminishes. The environment in which we live is facing unprecedented dangers, posing serious threat to the existence of mankind and wildlife alike. Fullerton India has chosen the environment as one of its core CSR areas, thereby promoting the use of sustainable ecological practices and adoption of green technology. Pertinently, the cost of energy will also come down in line with our transition to renewable energy.

Fullerton India’s programmes are based on the core principles of advancing livelihoods, improving social well-being and adoption of sustainable environmental practices thus limiting the impact on nature. The larger goal of financial inclusion and independence is being facilitated by education, skill development, market skills and an improvement in the quality of life but without adding any burden on the environment. It is said that the profitable growth of a company depends on the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of its benefactor communities. Soon, the most successful companies will be those that integrate sustainability into their core business.

Rakesh Makkar, Executive Vice President, Head-Business, Marketing and CSR, Fullerton India Credit Company Ltd.