Businesses can contribute more systematically and sustainably to the social development in Bangladesh through corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, said discussants at a seminar.
Corporate bodies should undertake philanthropy and be socially responsible because it makes good business sense and it allows the corporate bodies to influence the kind of society in which the business will operate, they said at the seminar titled “Doing Well by Doing Good: A Discussion on Business and Philanthropy”.
Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), organised the seminar at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, in Bashundhara in the capital recently.
The seminar brought together representatives from some of the country’s top business houses.
Speaking at the seminar, prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s international affairs advisor Gowher Rizvi said: “Philanthropy, when properly directed, when it listens to the people whom it is serving, can be very successful.”
Dilshad Dossani, chairperson of the Aga Khan Foundation (Bangladesh)’s National Committee, said: “The notion of indigenous philanthropy and the paradigm shift towards self-reliant development, we believe, has never been more relevant than it is today in the context of Bangladesh.”
The chief executive officer of the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (India), ApoorvaOza, said: “There is an initial tendency among many corporate bodies to do a lot of charity work, what we call transactional work, but the real change comes from transformational work, when we attack the roots of the problem, and that is a slow process for corporate bodies to learn, but it is happening.”
A panel discussion was held, moderated by Power and Participation Research Centre executive chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman.
Among others, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Nihad Kabir and Apex Footwear Ltd managing director Syed Nasim Manzur were also present on the occasion.
“Corporate bodies have the choice of being token or the choice of being significant. They have the opportunity to shape the agendas of tomorrow,” noted Hossain Zillur.