Commerce and philanthropy are two sides of the same coin, and if this is not true for your company or business, then it should be. There are plenty of benefits to corporate philanthropy:
- It increases the engagement of your employees, making them feel like they are part of something worthwhile and life-changing for people who need it.
- It improves awareness of your brand and gives it a platform that enhances goodwill among your customers, partners, prospects, and community at large.
- There are tax deductions that you can enjoy when your company engages in philanthropic or charitable work.
While all these are good reasons for your company to do good for others, they should not be the first reason you should decide to do something. If your business must engage in corporate philanthropy, make sure it’s because you truly want to help.
During the pandemic, some of the most vulnerable people are those in your neighborhood that you might overlook: Low-income families and households. Here are some ways businesses big and small can help and empower the members of these families.
There’s a reason why the adage, “Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for his entire life,” has resonated throughout the world for so many years, if not decades. While soup kitchens and one-time financial aids can help people from low-income communities in the short term, these initiatives are not sustainable. This is why paving the way for them to become micro-entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to help those in our community who are experiencing poverty.
Here are some ways corporations, businesses, and small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) can help level the financial playing field for low-income families:
- Partnering with microfinance institutions to help provide funds for borrowers who are below the poverty line. There are plenty of institutions whose sole existence is to provide funding to low-income borrowers. These institutions can help borrowers start small businesses like a sub eatery franchise opportunity, auto repair service, yard services, hairdressing services, and many others. Many of these microfinance institutions give interest-free financing for those who want to start anew, so your company can help bridge the gap between the borrowers and the institutions.
- Empowering women is one of the best ways you can help lift low-income communities. Women hold up half the sky, which means they are an untapped resource, especially those who have been victims of domestic violence or abuse. Empowering them through education and small business loans might help them get their lives back on track and those of their children.
Speaking of education and children, this is also one of the best ways to help lift low-income neighborhoods—by giving their children access to quality education and resources. There’s a reason why the world’s biggest businesses are spending a percentage of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) budget on education: They know that education is one of the keys to pulling people out of extreme poverty, and it’s one of the long-term solutions to some of society’s biggest ills. Here are some ways your company can help provide education to children from low-income neighborhoods:
- Creating a scholarship program to provide deserving students with the financing and equipment they need to be successful students.
- You can also opt for focusing on specific areas of study, like STEM or art. If you, as a business owner, have a passion for a specific subject and believe that children will be thoroughly empowered if they learn more about it, you can partner with public schools in helping enhance that department in their school. Your business can provide materials, equipment, and other resources to help the department thrive.
- Your business can also go beyond the classroom—you can reach out to adults who never had the opportunity to finish high school or any level lower than that. You can help them earn their GED, which will allow them to obtain employment or get into a technical school that can then help them find a lifelong career. This can be done through a scholarship program or a tutoring school.
Poverty has been a global challenge for many years now, with the pandemic making things worse. According to the World Bank, about 9.2 percent of the world—about 689 million people—live on less than 1.90 dollars per day. In the United States, 34 million people live in poverty.
If we want to make a difference, we need to start in our own backyard first and expand from there. Helping people who need it the most is a worthy endeavor, so let it be part of your agenda when your business finds success, if not before.