SABMiller, one of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottlers, has one of the best CSR programs in the region. Photo: Faungg's Photos/Flickr
By Jerry Haar
One of the hallmarks of economic and social development in Latin America during the last decade and a half has been the increasing focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) by both national and multinational firms.
CSR can best be understood as a firm’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2) by contributing educational and social programs and (3) by earning adequate returns on the employed resources.
Corporations have increasingly moved to address social development as part of business practices as much as philanthropy. In addition to charitable contributions to schools, orphanages, health clinics, youth sports programs, arts and culture, companies are taking an approach that enables them to “do well by doing good.” Multilatinas like Bimbo, Natura, and Cemex are engaged in CSR activities both within and outside the firm that benefit both society and their bottom line.
Among multinationals, there are a number of best practice models. Unilever’s Perfect Store program helps grow their business by empowering local entrepreneurs, teaching small-scale distributors basic merchandising and business skills. Food Giant Nestlé improves the lives of small producers in the region that provide its raw materials by revamping its value chain to work more directly with …
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