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Direct selling industry is giving back in the form of CSR: Amit Chadha, IDSA

Jan 19, 2017

Most direct selling entities participate in the CSR activities in critical areas like health & human services, women empowerment & environmental protection, writes Amit Chadha, Secretary General, Indian Direct Selling Association.

New Delhi: We all live in a world which is constantly changing, evolving with every passing day. Technology is making the world look smaller, making accesses easier. Transformation, growth and development have taken the front seat of the agenda, while mankind strives to achieve more.

According to a popular saying, everything has a cost attached to it and so is the so-called development. There are various issues that the mankind faces today related, ranging from environment, health, cleanliness, lack of education facilities, gender in-equality etc; the list goes on.

However, with changing times, the industries and the organisations have realised the importance of giving to the society. Once upon a time corporate and social responsibility (CSR) used to be considered by boardrooms talk, something that was hardly materialised. However, the tides have now turned as CSR remain as one of the top priorities for corporates. CSR allows organizations to do their bit for the society, environment and customers.

India is the first country to make it mandatory for companies with an annual turnover of 10 billion rupees, a net worth of 5 billion rupees, or a net profit of 50 million rupees, to spend 2 per cent of their profit before tax in CSR activities. The government mandate allows firms to give money to a wide range of social causes, either by funding such activities directly through their own foundations or trusts or by granting fundsto non-governmental organizations.

Among the other industries is the Direct Selling, which remains equally committed towards its contribution to the society. Direct Selling is a successful global industry immensely contributes to the lives of millions of people around the world, giving back to the communities, in form of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Most Direct Selling Entities participate in the CSR activities in critical areas like health & human services, women empowerment & environmental protection, girl child protection and education and child rights. According to the Indian Direct Selling Association Annual Survey 2014-15,, Direct Selling Entities have contributed approximately INR 500 million of their gross sales.

Talking globally, four in five Direct Selling companies (83%) have actively undertaken Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, based on a WFDSA survey of 54 companies. Many people benefit from the philanthropy of the Direct Selling Industry. In the year 2014, about 4.8 million people around the world have benefited from corporate support to charitable/ philanthropic causes from 22 companies. Nine companies reported that 126,000 people benefited in 2014 from the charitable/philanthropic causes supported by their Direct Sellers.

The world across, issues related to women and children remain the top priorities for the Direct Selling Industry.  About 47% companies give prime focus to child related issues, 17% pay special attention to issues related to women. In terms of responsibilities towards society, Direct Selling companies have been in the forefront in India as well. Many of the companies involved in Direct Selling actively contribute towards social activities. Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade and Amway’s Sunrise project for education are well known for their social impact.

Amway India’s CSR initiatives kicked off in 2001 with the registration of the Amway Opportunity Foundation (AOF) which works towards uplifting underprivileged children. Between 1995 and 2005, AOF’s ‘National Project for the Visually Challenged’ provided 85000 school going children with Braille textbooks across 12 states in India. AOF also launched ‘Project Sunrise’ aimed at helping Indian orphanages and children’s home provide children with clean drinking water, education and nutrition, improving their basic healthcare.

Another prominent player, Oriflame India , has been associated with Deepalya, contributing to eradicating illiteracy and uplifting unprivileged women and children. The Company has with its association with Deepalaya in the past, sponsored education of approx 1,000 girl aged between 4-17 years.

On the other hand, companies like Avon India and Tupperware having all-women Direct Selling work-force, work extensively towardswomen empowerment and skill development.Direct Selling Industry is playing a vital role in empowering millions in India by transforming unskilled people to skilled work-force and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Direct Selling contributes to the upliftment of million of people associated with this Industry by imparting knowledge, skill and training and thus contributing to CSR at organisational level as well.

The coming years will witness the IDSA member companies to come out with bigger plans towards their contribution to the society in the coming years.

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