Building trust and strong relationships between utilities and communities starts with finding synergies in the social and economic plans of each stakeholder that can lead to greater employment options.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be described as ‘a company’s voluntary actions to reduce the negative impacts in communities…or to improve the living conditions of the local communities where they operate.’ An increase in society’s awareness of environmental and social issues has added a new dimension to the way corporate business is conducted. In cases where Stratocom operates, displacement of people or negative community concerns for the technology may exist.
The challenge is creating strategies and programs that are successful for all parties. Industry must incorporate these programs that are empowering with great local significance and that contribute goodwill to move forward. Many traditional programs implemented rely on direct financial support from companies. This creates expensive and unhealthy donor-recipient relationships. We have seen the great results that economic diversification and entrepreneurship programs can achieve. We have also seen this in our projects as a way to improve the quality of life and economic outcomes in the community they operate in. This is about creating a positive strategy for obtaining a social license to operate for the corporation.
One of the key elements that must be present in the entire process is community ownership. But how can this vital element be obtained from host communities? One of the answers to this question lies in the Entrepreneurial Development Program. We recommend incorporating a community program that will discuss new entrepreneurship and economic development opportunities in the region as a means of supporting their local economy and providing a positive outcome for all parties.
The company is looked upon as a positive partner in the community; building upon the positive aspects of the project
Community owned and driver initiative vs. Corporate / Government driven initiative
The community is given tools to assist in the development of sustainable business practices
The community moves forward to foster Economic Development which, in turn, creates jobs, businesses and community wealth
As part of the entrepreneurship program methodology the selection and inclusion of all stakeholders in project planning and engagement are critical. This also supports community collaborative work and allows the creation of community ownership. Ultimately, providing an economic development methodology helps local communities to take ownership of the community development projects.
“Our job is to enhance the benefits from the project through economic stimulus. For long-term community and economic viability and sustainable community development, it is vital that efforts be made to help diversify local economies.”