The importance of CSR to small businesses, start-ups

Jeane Warner, director, Research and Public Advocacy of AFETT.
Jeane Warner, director, Research and Public Advocacy of AFETT.



My business is starting to make some profits this year and in light of all that has been happening economically, I am thinking of using some of these profits to give back to charity. However, I am not sure of how to do this. Can you give me some advice on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility to small businesses like mine?

Thank you so much.

~ Coporate Little Helper.

Dear Corporate Little Helper,

I think that you are on the right track with wanting your business to be more socially responsible. In the words of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” The priorities of the world are changing and as a small business, you will find that incorporating social responsibility into your business model not only makes you feel good but it can also give your company that much desired competitive edge.

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Steven Kaufman found that once he started implementing elements of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into his business strategy, his company became better, stronger and more relevant.

The world is becoming more socially conscious and consumers now, prefer to spend their money on products and services that they believe in and to engage with companies that follow ethical practices that meet their own beliefs. A 2014 Nielsen survey found that 55 per cent of online shoppers indicated that they would pay more for products and services from companies that advocate social and economic ethics within their communities.

Furthermore, Times Magazine reports that over 8,000 businesses around the world, in acknowledging this shift, have signed the UN Global Compact, pledging to show good global citizenship in a number of areas which include human rights, labor standards and environmental protection and it is anticipated that the next generation of business leaders is even more likely to prioritize Corporate Social Responsibility.

According to data released by Net Impact, 65 per cent of MBAs surveyed indicated that they want to make a social or environmental difference through their jobs. Additionally, according to a Deloitte survey, 70 per cent of young Millennials, those ages 18 to 26, say that a company’s commitment to the community has an influence on their decision to work there. This is proof that the environment is ripe for business persons like you who do and who want to incorporate CSR into their business models as this philosophy would be directly in line with the corporate goal of your future employees and even your competitors.

In fact, corporate giant Coca-Cola, used this data to start its“5by20” program in 2010, created to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs worldwide by 2020 in both bottling and distribution roles. The impact of this goal will not only benefit the women in the communities surrounding Coca-Cola manufacturing plants, but could also benefit the communities as a whole, as the company also aims to provide better access to health care and improved education to their employees, thereby improving employee loyalty and a more engaged and competitive workforce.

Entrepreneur Magazine highlights the importance of corporate social responsibility for small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs in a number of its articles. You and your business can benefit quite a bit from the contents and advice which explores a variety of areas on the issue such as Cost Saving, Brand Differentiation, Employee Retention and Employee Buy-In.

Nonetheless, my advice to you would be to explore these articles and consider how they can assist in allowing you to recognize the importance of using CSR to increase your business’ competitive advantage; to protect and raise brand awareness and to build trust within your community and among your customers and employees. Consider being more open about your business activities and aspire to and maintain acceptable ethical standards in your business practice.

Furthermore, if you can find the time and or, you can assist AFETT with its December edition of Suit Me UP to be held on Saturday December 15 at Rush Club in Tacarigua from 9 am.

We applaud your initiative and wish you and your business success,


AFETT is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. ASK AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by AFETT member, Jeane Warner, director – Research and Public Advocacy of AFETT. Learn more about AFETT at, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at 354-7130. Email us your career-related questions at


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