Since its independence in 1971, Bangladesh has made tremendous strides in its economic and socio-economic development. Today, the country has the 37th largest economy and boasts an average GDP growth rate of ~6.8% in the last decade. This remarkable development has been driven by its demographic dividend, strong export earnings from the RMG sector, and macroeconomic stability supported by a stable government. Despite the strides in its economy, many more development factors remain unachieved across the country. Let us look into Corporate Social Investment and its prospects in this aspect.
One impactful method of tackling these issues is through Corporate Social Investment (CSI). CSI involves the integration of social and environmental responsibility into an organization’s core business strategy and values. In Bangladesh, CSI activities are commonly undertaken by large organizations such as financial institutions and private-sector corporations. These activities are encouraged by policies such as tax exemption and cash incentives.
As part of an effort to understand the state of the social investment landscape and provide a guide for corporate social responsibility in Bangladesh, LightCastle Partners collaborated with Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) to conduct market research titled, ‘Social Investment Landscape in Bangladesh’. In particular, the study prioritized identifying the key areas of development requiring the most attention from CSI activities, the policy framework for CSR, the opportunities and challenges in the landscape along with mapping the current players in the landscape.
To gain an understanding of the state of the social investment landscape and identify the key initiatives, LightCastle Partners took a twofold approach by conducting the primary and secondary research. Furthermore, the insights from the desk research and key informant interviews were synthesized using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.
The study initially incorporated insights from secondary resources such as official documents from think tanks and multilateral organization papers, local and foreign news reports, opinion articles, and academic literature. This data formed the foundation of the study by providing insights into key government priorities and sectors needing the most intervention through private sector funding.
The key research component was the Key Informant Interviews (KIIs), which validated the insights from secondary research. A total of 15 KIIs were conducted with stakeholders ranging from policymakers, regulators, and key private sector stakeholders which included national and international corporations, intermediaries, and multilateral organizations.
The team synthesized the key findings of this study into a final report which also incorporated the stakeholder map, possible collaborations, case studies along with suggested recommendations. The recommendations were developed through a quantitative analysis of the key thematic area of focus along with designing specific interventions for the private sector organizations to make the existing measures more potent and inclusive within the social investment landscape.
The recommendations derived from this project aim to increase impactful and inclusive social investment activities, which will, in turn, develop the socio-economic landscape of Bangladesh. Furthermore, the study provides a guide on how private organizations can utilize their CSR activities to create sustainable measures for social development.