As India embarks on its eighth decade of independent governance, it finds itself at a crucial juncture of change, presenting vast opportunities for substantial economic growth and notable progress in attaining the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The private sector has emerged as a key player in India’s development story, with over 1.4 million active companies in 2022. More than 29,500 of these companies have collectively invested nearly €13.5 billion Euros towards social impact since 2014.
India set a remarkable precedent in 2014 by enacting legislation that made Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandatory for companies surpassing a specific financial threshold. This regulation mandates that such companies allocate a minimum of 2% of their average net profits over the preceding three years to developmental endeavours.
European companies operating in India have emerged as one of the key contributors towards social innovation efforts in India. To explore how these companies are undertaking social innovation in India and going beyond the mandatory CSR requirements, we conducted an extensive mapping of the corporate social impact landscape in India.
The SKI team researched the CSR data of 1,537 companies, that contribute to 85% of the CSR spend in India, 148 are of them are of European origin and account for 45% of the global corporates’ CSR spend in India. The team interviewed the CSR heads of 16 companies of European origin, from diverse sectors to delve into the reasons behind the trends identified in our analysis.
Six Key Trends
The study captured six key trends of European companies’ social innovation efforts in India:
The Road Ahead
Several companies in India are shifting their CSR strategy from being driven by compliance, to now ensuring closer alignment with their ESG and social impact investments, thereby fuelling sustainable social innovation.
Innovative instruments of financing to improve the leverage of philanthropic capital have emerged in India and the corporate sector has the opportunity to play six important roles to expedite impact.
The study also showcases a heterogeneous mix of case studies from European companies and their work on social innovation in India. This included examples of their innovative work that originated in India and has subsequently been taken to other countries, not limited to the Global South. We hope that the insights and findings will inspire and encourage more companies to embrace social innovation and contribute towards Sustainable Development.