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CSI could boost economy significantly

According to a new report undertaken by the Bureau of Economic Research (BER) and Nation Builder, corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives have the potential to add R25bn a year to South Africa's economic output.
CSI could boost economy significantly
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The research, examining the effect of CSI in South Africa, shows that approximately R8.1bn was spent on CSI in 2015.

The R8.1bn CSI spend is likely to have contributed R12.5bn to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). If invested effectively, however, the BER estimates that it is likely to have added at least R25bn to South Africa’s economic output.

It is also likely to have sustained 62,295 jobs – excluding those of people who work in the sector – and generated R7.7bn in labour remuneration in 2015.

Not all companies measure the impact of their CSI, so the results of this study are conservative estimates, according to BER macro service manager Cobus Venter.

“So often social investment is seen as a non-strategic thing, but rather a compliance issue or a heart issue. But if you want it to be effective, you need to implement it in the same way that you would invest in capital,” said Keri-Leigh Paschal, an executive director of Nation Builder.

Not just a compliance exercise

The report also states that at worst, the effect of CSI on a company is simply neutral but probably positive. “This is an important point to note,” said Paschal, “as many senior executives often see CSI as a compliance exercise that carries costs.”

The report looks at the importance of CSI in terms of its impact on economy-wide output, GDP, number of jobs created and labour income.

Paschal explained that Nation Builder commissioned the research as they wanted to encourage businesses to see the potential of their social impact on the country if done effectively, to celebrate what has already been achieved by CSI, and to impress on businesses the potential collective impact of their giving. “Every bit counts. We want to encourage companies to think on a bigger scale and leave their logos at the door so they can work together to use their resources and skills to make a positive impact on our country.”

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