Passing the torch: CLP looks for private partners to continue chars development as part of CSR
The Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor, Dr. Atiur Rahman, urged banks and the non-financial private sector to consider the socio-economic development of char regions and its people as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Dr. Rahman was the keynote speaker and special guest at a high-level seminar held in Dhaka on Saturday 22 August. The seminar, entitled “Engaging with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Activity”, was organised by CLP.
Dr. Rahman, who is a staunch supporter of CLP’s movement to partner the private sector with chars development stakeholders, expressed his desire and dream that Bangladesh could set a replicable example of addressing poverty especially in health and education through CSR activities. “If we can provide better education, vocational training, and health services and ensure easy accessible bank loans to the chars then the development of the char people will be smoother and faster. In this case the banks and financial institutions can play an important role through their CSR activities,” Dr. Rahman stated.
In addition, Dr. Rahman urged other non-bank corporate actors, such as PRAN and ACI, to develop business policies that include CSR funds and market linkages for alleviating extreme poverty in the chars. These areas are widely known as some of the most vulnerable areas of Bangladesh but have the potential to be the new ‘green spots’ of Bangladesh’s economy.
He pointed out that it is a lack of confidence, coordinated action and partnership that is stunting char development, not a lack of money.
This sentiment of support and cooperation was echoed by the Chairperson of ACI, Mr. Anis Ud Dowla who stated: “ACI has got a mandate to extend support to local partners in the chars; I strongly believe that when support and competency are combined only then we can make a win-win situation and become most effective.” Mr. Dowla strongly urged for the continuation of a CLP-like programme.
As representative of the Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh (BFP-B), Mr. Kazi Mahfuz M. Rahman, so aptly put it: “the development of the chars is a marathon, not a sprint.” Even though CLP has been working on the chars since 2004, the surface has only been scratched when it comes to their opportunities and economic potential, or to use Mr. Kazi’s analogy: the marathon continues. Thankfully, there are a number of stakeholders who agree, several of whom expressed interest in continuing the good work once CLP exits from the northern chars in March 2016.