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Social entrepreneurship more important than ever to help in COVID-19 recovery

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been slowly making its way up the strategic priorities in corporates over the past decades.

But many companies still approach CSR as a “nice to have” rather than “a must have”. As awareness grows over the impact of CSR on the bottom line of successful businesses, the evolution is becoming a necessity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for all of us. It has been humbling to witness how this microscopic virus has disrupted our daily routines and businesses but it also shed a light on the harm modern life has put on our planet through pollution and loss of natural habitats. Now, the well-being of people, society and our planet is at the forefront of everyday practices. The way we do business has changed and it has accelerated the need of sustainability becoming the core of company strategy with direct impact on employees, customers and suppliers.

As a result, corporate sustainability teams are leading the effort to improve internal procedures and operations, as well as think about how organisations can have a positive impact on their surroundings.

At HSBC, we have taken the lead in sustainable financing, where we use our core business to amplify the sustainability efforts of our clients and fund environmentally friendly projects. However, beyond our core business functions, we have been investing in many programmes over the years that help enable the communities around us to create a brighter future for themselves.

These initiatives, which focus on the development of future skills, social entrepreneurship and providing opportunities to disadvantaged communities, have become even more essential during the outbreak. As many jobs were lost and the pace of digitisation was ramped up, billions of people need to be empowered with new skills to succeed. In turn, corporates can play a very important role in supporting communities to recover from COVID-19 through impactful sustainability initiatives.

One example of such an initiative is Tatawwar, meaning “To Develop” in Arabic. It is an exciting, interactive programme brought to you by HSBC in partnership with Potential.com which brings together students, teachers, parents, schools and the business community to help innovate for a shared future.

It allows students to showcase their innovative ideas which needs to address one of three United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which are Climate Action, Human Health and Well-being and Clean Water and Sanitation.

It also gives students the chance to practice important social business skills, understand sustainable commitments, connect with the corporate world, and hear from some extraordinary professionals along the way. The winners will get the once in a lifetime chance to showcase their innovative ideas at Expo 2020 which will be held in Dubai next year.

By providing the youth with an opportunity to learn the end to end process of starting up a social business and by giving them the tools to launch social enterprises, we can empower them and help shift the mindset from educating job seekers to educating job makers.

At HSBC, we are big believers that social entrepreneurship would present millions of opportunities and jobs around the world. We have supported many other programmes that aim to develop sustainable business skills not just in youth but in existing businesses.

Through our partnership with Consult and Coach for a Cause(C3) we have launched the Social Impact Accelerator to help established entrepreneurs align their business models with sustainability opportunities. We have also supported TiE, which fosters entrepreneurship globally, to mentor sustainable businesses so they are ready to make use of the new market realities.

COVID-19’s disruption has only reinforced and strengthened our efforts to develop the next generation of social enterprises. These enterprises will create jobs, come up with solutions to global challenges and accelerate a new era of sustainable business practices. With all the pressure the pandemic has caused, we now have an opportunity to use it as an incentive to come together and build a brighter and more sustainable future.

This article originally appeared on Entreprenuer.com.