“At Nilkamal we believe in creating a better tomorrow with all our business practices, products and initiatives.”- Vamanrai V. Parekh, Chairman, Nilkamal Ltd
Since its advent in 1960, Corporate Social Responsibility has become a crucial element for a range of businesses and stakeholders. Today, businesses are moving ahead and moulding themselves to explore the future of sustainability in the business world and developing a socially innovative strategy that will enable them to grow while taking care of the society. Today, Corporate Social Responsibility has become a concept that throws in together a company’s social concerns with its business operations. Pointedly for the developing countries like India, where limited resources for meeting the ever-growing demands make sustainable development difficult. Foreseeing the need of the hour, India brought its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) law on April 1, 2014. And this was the metamorphosis of CSR as a cheque-book charity concept to beyond the horizon and contributing greatly to the society.
We looked upon KPMG’s 2018-19 report analysing the CSR work of 100 companies. It states the CSR amounted at Rs 5,779.7 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7,096.9 crore in 2017-18, more than what has been prescribed. While Corporate India is investing well under the CSR lineage, yet the much needed areas of the country which requires maximum CSR support, stand deprived. So how can we shape CSR as less of charitable event and more of an organization’s core policy? Mr Vamanrai V. Parekh gives us an ‘on the nose’ answer. He chairs as the Chairman of the world’s largest manufacturer of moulded furniture and Asia’s largest processor of plastic moulded products, Nilkamal Ltd. From his role in supporting ground-breaking advancements in the educational sector at Shri Vile ParleKelavani to steering the journey of Nilkamal, the veteran needs no lead-in. We sat down with Mr Parekh to know his views on how the brand is demonstrating its commitment to boost CSR via its brand, NilkamalBubbleguard.
Give us a brief about the company and its product/services.
Nilkamal Limited is a versatile solutions company, delivering effective and tailor-made solutions of the highest global standards in furniture and material handling. With an in-depth understanding of ergonomics, design, and customer comfort at the core, we have been rated India’s favourite furniture brand for over 3 decades. At Nilkamal we cater to 4key sectors Home, Office, Education, Healthcare and Hospitality.
How would you define corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
Nilkamal Limited is a brand synonymous with trust for the last three decades and a socially responsible brand. We have been contributing to various projects linked with the promotion of education, health and hygiene. We gladly comply with the government norm of mandatory contribution to CSR.
We are combining our design expertise and in-depth understanding of the market and material and have created a step by step program for CSR where other fellow corporates, Government bodies and NGOs all work towards achieving the dream of a better tomorrow. We have identified and invested in the below steps for achieving this goal:
- Identification of the need gaps
We have identified Easy Access to potable water, Health & Hygiene, Education and Disaster relief as key areas that need focus
- Create intelligent solutions
We have developed smart solutions to be able to fill the identified gaps
- Donation to the cause from Nilkamal
We as a corporate have allocated and disbursed funds in the identified areas
- NGO tie-ups
We have, over recent years, built a network of NGOs like the Habitat for Humanity, Rotary Club, Lions Club and many such, to facilitate the deployment of the largeCSR projects to ensure the funds are used in the right and the most accountable fashion
- Corporate & Government Outreach
We are working towards creating awareness and reaching out to multiplecorporates with our solutions and provide them with all the necessary tools to launch a successful CSR program. To name a few corporates like BKT, HCL, Indiabulls, HDFC, Hero Moto Corp, Mahindra Finance and so on. Like corporates, we reach out to state governments to help ease the identified causes at a greater level. For example, the government of Telangana has been using our education solution – Shishu desk to provide ergonomic seating for students in villages across the stat.
To name a few endeavours that Nilkamal has taken up individually are – building a school for girls in Gujarat with the latest, state of the art educational technology and furniture. Nilkamal has in past donated school busses for specially-abled children. With the intent to promote health Nilkamal has taken up 4 prosthetic limb donation camps near our factories near Nashik, Silvasa and Sinnar along with regular blood donation camps where our employees participate voluntarily. To promote hygiene, Nilkamal has taken up awareness drives and donation of our public waste bins in the vicinity of our offices and manufacturing locations.
Tell us how you came to your CSR theme for the Social Impact products range?
At Nilkamal we believe in creating a better tomorrow with all our business practices, products and initiatives.
Our specially developed range of Social Impact products is based on the principle of providing basic comfort to people. We have identified key areas that need the focus of corporates as immediate steps namely easy Access to potable water, Health & Hygiene, Education and Disaster relief as key areas that need focus
Basis the understanding of the need gaps, we have crafted a range of specialised disaster relief products namely the NilkamalWello Water Wheel – for ease of fetching potable water in difficult terrains, NilkamalSuvidha Toilet Units with NilkamalSaTo toilet pans to help solve the sanitation crisis in disaster affected areas with low access to water and Nilkamal Relief – the lightweight, waterproof and foldable mattress to provide respite to people affected by calamities.
What progress has been made regarding your promoting CSR activities? Can you list some prominent steps taken by you that you are proud of?
At Nilkamal we take pride in our innovative range of products, specially designed to achieve maximum results in minimum efforts. To cite an example, our NilkamalWello Water Wheel which is also recognised by Bill Gates as one of the top 10 effective low-tech social innovations. We have been able to reach over 20,000 families with the help of our vast network of corporate Samaritans and NGOs across the nation in the past two years.
With a commitment to promote the cause of water availability we have successfully created innovative viral communication campaigns. With consistent efforts from all involved, recently there have been multiple successful crowd funding campaigns raising funds towards the issue that were started by a variety of audience ranging from celebrities to socialites to school students.
With all our efforts, we hope to ease the problem of availability of potable water in all the nooks and corners of the nation.
Where do you see your CSR initiatives headed? Are there any new directions?
It is our constant endeavour to develop new and innovative solutions that benefit the customers and society at large. With this thought, we are adding two new solutions to our range of disaster relief solutions that will support the wellbeing of those who meet with disasters due to natural causes, war-affected areas, refugee camps and so on.
- Our first solution NilkamalSuvidha 5 is a re-usable modular toilet unit which comprises of 4 strong walls, a ceiling and a floor made of BubbleGUARD and the NilkamalSaTo toilet Pan. Suvidha is designed to keep the surrounding clean while it uses 1/5th of the water used by a regular toilet pan. The design of the toilet ensures no smell and no flies. SaTo toilet pan which is the core of the offering is a patented design of Lixil- Japan manufactured by Nilkamal in an exclusive association with Lixil. It uses flap door in place of P-trap. This superior design helps to reduce the water required for flushing. The outlet can be connected with any soak pit, sewer-line or septic tank. All the floor, roof, door, and walls are made of patented 9 layered BubbleGUARD sheet with a honeycomb structured core. The design is completely modular and thus is easy to install. The BubbleGUARD sheets extremely strong while being very light in weight, thus making them easy to transport.
- The next innovation is Relief – lightweight, waterproof, and foldable mattress to provide respite to people affected by calamities. The Mattress is designed especially for flood-affected areas and has value-added features like an Inbuilt pocket for keeping medicines or cash and valuable materials safe from flooding that can prove life-saving in such conditions. The inbuilt pillow adds to the usability and comfort factor of the solution.
What are the future plans associated with the company?
Nilkamalhas always been a forward-thinking brand and has been a pioneer of innovation in the field of smart furniture solutions, material handling and logistics. In the future, we plan to continue to introduce innovations that make a real difference and support sustainable business practices, especially for our customers and the nation at large.
What message would you like to share with the aspiring entrepreneurs?
India has grown to a 2.5 trillion worth economy; we see huge growth potential. As the millennial generation is moving towards sustainable living, we feel a focus on evolving customer needs and provide the best quality at reduced costs will be the mantra for success going ahead.