Feature Story

How tech is powering the new era of CSR and new economies

by Melissa Jun Rowley

How tech is powering the new era of CSR and new economies

Thanks to current and emerging technologies, new economies can be created.

Ian Jones, CEO of the Australia-based blockchain startup NaturesCoin, wants to create a new economy—one in which corporations can demonstrate their commitment to protecting the environment using a digital currency. He envisions a crypto-driven form of corporate social responsibility (CSR) powered by blockchain, in which companies will be able to engage with consumers more directly.

Jones knew he wanted to harness blockchain for CSR when he read a Credit Suisse McKinsey report. It dissected how eco-conservation isn’t working effectively, and that someone needed to come up with a new system that made sustainable investment measurable, tradable and less risky.

Creating new economies 

“We connected the dots and realized that by channeling CSR funding through blockchain, and creating an asset backed security token, we could change CSR from being a cost to a tradable company asset,” Jones explains, “For us, that was the light that went on, and by applying that to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we could develop a broad-based platform.”

In many cases, if a company wants to a put a certain amount of money into a CSR program, they will not see a financial return on investment.

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“Doing it our way, they put money into the NatureCoin fund, which would issue them a certain amount of security tokens,” says Jones, “That money would go into the project itself, which would be owned by the blockchain. The returns from the project are divided by the project operator and the fund itself, which then gives value back to the token.” 

NaturesCoin is currently in the development phase of the platform. After that’s complete, the team will put the blockchain architecture together with plans to launch in Q2 of 2019. The team is particularly interested in working with consumer-focused organizations because they can demonstrate to their audience that they’re doing good in the world, and consumers can vote on where they donate their security tokens.

Measuring CSR impact

In addition to blockchain-based initiatives, tech platforms are being used to track and monitor CSR programs. For decades, CSR was an afterthought at most organizations. But in recent years, ever since the concept of actionable and positive corporate citizenship has evolved, CSR professionals have been asking the burning question, how do we measure social impact?

The India-based tech firm, Bridge Impact, is answering that question for organizations with its multifaceted technology platform, while reducing overhead costs, and making more funds available for sustainability and impact programs. Through the company’s thorough due diligence process, they have identified and collaborated with high impact nonprofits to help corporates in implementing their CSR and sustainability programs in various sectors, such as health, education and women’s empowerment.

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“We built our platform keeping in mind the needs of both our users—non-profits who would need a tool to manage day to day operations, as well as CSR teams who would need real-time insights on their projects,” said Bridge Impact Founder and CEO Sonal Chopra.

In practical terms, Chopra explains that although numerous data collection apps exist in the market, most NGOs still rely on pen and paper for collecting data and record keeping.

“We found out that the biggest resistance in adopting a digital solution is due to lack of internal resources within NGOs for a tech team, which is the gap we are trying to fill,” said Chopra, “We work closely to find out what features need to be added to make their work easier and spend a good amount of time understanding, training, hand-holding and visiting our partners.”

Through this process, Bridge Impact is able to provide solutions for mobile data collection and the viewing and reporting of a project for all a project’s partners on a single dashboard. The company also integrates with multiple third-party data collection apps like Survey CTO and Dimagi to provide customizable dashboards.

Gone are the days of analog record keeping. Gone are the days of CSR programs developed as an afterthought. Thanks to current and emerging technologies, proactivity and forward thinking can be the new norm, and new economies can be created.


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