India's best bank for CSR 2018: State Bank of India
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India's best bank for CSR 2018: State Bank of India

State Bank of India

Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, SBI (1).jpg
Rajnish Kumar, State Bank of India

Corporate social responsibility has always been ingrained in State Bank of India’s ethos. It goes as far back as 1973 when the idea of CSR was introduced by the firm as ‘innovative banking’, a way to focus on the economic development of the underprivileged in society through non-banking activities.

That focus has never wavered, only strengthened. So much so that in June 2015, the bank launched the SBI Foundation, a not-for-profit entity, to consolidate its CSR activities under one platform.

But the bank itself has also continued with its mission. In the financial year ending March 2017, SBI spent Rp1.09 billion ($16.8 million) on CSR-related activities, of which around Rp890 million was disbursed by the bank’s head offices and the remainder donated to the foundation.

SBI has put its CSR focus into four areas: offering healthcare, education, skill development and creation of livelihood and, finally, protecting the environment. But it is to healthcare development that the bank has allocated the maximum funds — an area that is of key importance in India where healthcare is often either unaffordable or unavailable to a big chunk of the population.

It has pumped money into a large number of charitable organizations and hospitals to help them buy medical and surgical equipment, as well as ambulances.

It has also tied up with local NGOs to run health camps in rural India.

Its emphasis on education is also notable. SBI’s contributions have ranged from putting money towards supporting infrastructure in schools to setting up computer or IT labs as well as organizing school buses to provide transport for children. It has also pushed the rural population to improve their skillset by offering training programmes.

This leads to a natural question around SBI’s role in environmental protection, given the increased focus on green financing and green bonds in recent years. But while the bank has put together a green bond framework, it is yet to sell an international green bond.

However, it has made its mark in other ways — by acquiring solar power plants and lamps, and commissioning and maintaining solar power plants.

It has also worked on installing windmills for captive power consumption, and became India’s first state-owned bank to publish a separate sustainability report. With such strong credentials, SBI has an unrivalled position as the best bank for CSR in India.

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