I am delighted that the Manappuram Foundation is now going live with its own website. In the six years since it was established in 2009, the Foundation has broken new ground, and established new standards in how CSR activities can be made truly meaningful.
Until recently, all CSR spending by corporate in our country was strictly voluntary in nature.
However, in 2013, India became the first country in the world to make CSR spending compulsory for corporations meeting certain criteria regarding size and profitability. After CSR became mandatory (at 2 percent of the average profits of the past three years), many corporates were taken by surprise and scrambled to put together some CSR initiative or the other, merely to comply with the law.
At Manappuram, we are proud that we have been doing things differently. For us, CSR is not a fashion statement. We also don’t see it as merely a legal requirement to be complied with for the sake of compliance. Indeed, we set up the Manappuram Foundation as a charitable trust back in 2009, well before CSR became mandatory because we were, and continue to be, serious about CSR. We wanted to push ahead with our vision of a corporate entity that would create social value as well as market value, to further the interests of all our stakeholders. Initially, our focus was on doing something for the area around Valapad in Thrissur district of Kerala where we belong to and where we have our HO. We were clear that we would take up only such projects that would be relevant to the local community and not the copy-cat stuff.
Our first and most important initiative was to bring health care to the poor in the seven Panchayats adjoining Valapad area where we are based. Today, “Janaraksha – Manappuram Health Insurance Scheme”, extends free health insurance to 20,000 BPL families in this area in the coastal belt of Thrissur District. The policy covers their medical expenses up to an annual limit of Rs.60,000 against common diseases including heart ailments and cancer. The premiums payable by the beneficiaries are funded entirely by the Foundation. In fact, a major share of our CSR budget is spent on this account alone.
We have also set up a fully equipped Office at Valapad and employ qualified social workers and psychiatric social workers to run “Help Centres” in all the seven Panchayats to help beneficiaries with filing reimbursement claims to make implementation smoother.
In the area of education, the Foundation established the Manappuram Academy in 2013 at Triprayar (Thrissur District) to provide free coaching for professional courses to bright students from poor families who have done well in their plus two exams. The Academy offers coaching for CA, CS and ICWA courses. Students aspiring for these professional qualifications are put through rigorous coaching in subjects like Statistics, Mathematics, Economics and Mercantile Law. All expenses for the programme are met by Manappuram Foundation. In April 2015, we started the Manappuram Academy for Entrance Coaching (MAEC) which provides coaching for entrance examinations to medical and engineering colleges for bright students hailing from the weaker sections.
With a rapidly aging population, care of the elderly is becoming a social problem. The Manappuram Foundation has set up a Day Care Centre for senior citizens (Pakalveedu) at Thalikulam (Thrissur District) and Palakkad. Senior citizens spend their day times at the Centre where breakfast, lunch and tea are served to them free of cost, along with access to nursing care and facilities for recreation. It provides them with avenues to spend their time productively by expanding their knowledge, developing their creativity etc.
In the six years of its existence, the Manappuram Foundation has initiated many worthwhile projects—in healthcare, education, empowerment of women, care for the elderly, donations to charity etc.—that have enriched the lives of some of the poorest in society. It has been successful in making a visible difference to the local community.
And now, we have decided that Manappuram Foundation will extend its reach and work with communities across all the states where Manappuram Finance is present. (Incidentally, with 3,200+ branches, we are present in 27 states and UTs across India.) And, in the years to come, we hope that the Manappuram Foundation will also have a pan-India presence, to match the stature of its parent.