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5 Brands Embracing Corporate Social Responsibility During This Pandemic

The socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 towards corporations are far-reaching. Across all sectors, many businesses are struggling to make ends meet. With profits and revenues diminishing due to movement control orders, it is no surprise that some companies have no choice but to enact cost-cutting measures.

However, in spite of growing uncertainty, lower profits, and budget cuts, some companies are determined to stay true to their values. Steadfast in their mission to help disadvantaged and affected communities, these organisations have shown firm resolve by taking on a bigger role in social responsibility amidst this challenging time. 

Let’s explore 5 organisations that have shown exemplary corporate citizenship values throughout the pandemic!

1. Taylor’s Education Group

More than just an education institution, Taylor’s Education Group has been especially active in community engagement throughout COVID-19. Through it’s CSR platform Taylor’s Community, many impact programs have been carried out to help families and individuals in need.

In partnership with CIMB Bank Islam Berhad, Taylor’s Community initiated Program Keusahawanan (PK) to equip B40 entrepreneurs with the skills needed to effectively adapt their businesses to the new normal. Utilising Facebook as a platform, PK classes helped  beneficiaires to explore not just Whatsapp business and digital marketing, but also how to leverage on delivery services like Grab and Lalamove[1]

Another collaborative effort between Taylor’s and CIMB is the MicroBiz Ready virtual program, whereby entrepreneurs are taught how to digitise their businesses and therewith, build more sustainable revenue streams. Participants were also exposed to loan opportunities available for SMEs to support them during this challenging time.

Source: Taylor’s Community | Facebook

Now equipped with entrepreneurial skills and knowledge, over 300 beneficiaries have developed increased confidence to cope with the pandemic situation[2].

In tandem with their business development programs, Taylor’s Community emphasises personal and emotional development just as much. Acknowledging that women are amongst those most heavily affected by increased anxiety and stress due to COVID, they created a women support group to cater to their needs. With the help of their team psychologist Nelavathi Marimuthu, the group carries out weekly activities to educate women about emotional wellbeing, parenting strategy, stress management, and other related topics to keep up their fighting spirit[3]

Families are also not excluded from Taylor’s CSR initiatives. With stay-at-home measures accentuating the importance of healthy home environments, Taylor’s Community has taken on the call to help foster good familial relationships. With the help of Humankind, Canon Malaysia, NAMA Foundation and Takaful Malaysia, they were able to carry out numerous family bonding programs — for example, storytelling sessions and using art as a means for expression. Reaching over 900 participants, these initiatives have helped many parents and children to understand each other better[2]

More recently, Taylor’s launched Jurnal Emosi, an initiative to help children understand, embrace, and healthily express their emotions. They also carried out a program called Suara dan Saya to help children develop speaking skills, confidence and creativity. 

Source: Taylor’s Community | Facebook

Despite having to push through uncertainty, Taylor’s Community navigated these uncharted territories with utmost resilience — undeterred and persevering in their vision to extend a helping hand to the community.

“Despite the pandemic, we saw growth. It may not be the usual growth and impact of expanding in numbers, but growth in terms of resilience, perseverance and grit. I am hopeful that we are on a journey to recovery.” – May Wong, Head of Group Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility of Taylor’s Education Group 

2. YTL Foundation

When movement control orders were first enacted back in mid-March 2020, school children faced unforeseen disruptions in their studies as schools abruptly shifted from physical to online learning. Some communities however, are hit harder than others.

Unequipped with digital devices and internet infrastructure, many children in B40 households were at risk of being left behind in academics due to limited access to education. The digital gap became increasingly pronounced for underprivileged families – and this was where the YTL Foundation sought to step in and help. 

In March 2020, YTL launched the Learn from Home initiative to help school children who were adversely impacted by school closures. In partnership with YES and FrogAsia, YTL provided over 400,000 free 4G prepaid SIM cards with mobile data to school children nationwide, thus allowing these students to also partake in online learning.[4]

Source: YTL Foundation | Facebook

To YTL, however, securing connectivity is the first stepping stone to an even larger objective: to assist children adjust more effectively to e-learning. With the help of Teach for Malaysia, Pelangi, Kindity Preschool, UKM and MyReaders, the Foundation was able to publish over 800 English, Science and Mathematics lessons on the YTL Website. Carefully curated and developed for the e-learning landscape, these lessons integrate fun and interactive elements to keep students engaged. By the end of August, these lessons were accessed over 300,000 times, with the most popular being English lessons[5]

Today, students can access over 13,500 quizzes on the FrogPlay mobile app to be used as revision material. The YTL site has also amassed over 1,000 lessons, inclusive of Bahasa Melayu, for government school students between Standard 1 up to Form 5. Distributing free mobile data and phones to B40 families is also an ongoing initiative of theirs, which they hope to continue extending to vulnerable communities nationwide[6]

Other than the Learn from Home initiative, YTL also continued their existing after-school educational programs online. Utilizing Zoom as a primary platform, YTL Foundation’s team of teachers carried out classes throughout weekdays – catering to subjects like English, Mandarin, Science, Geography, and even Music and Drama! With the help of volunteers, children from Sentul as well as those further away in Penang, Kedah and Sarawak were also able to participate in YTL’s online classes.

Source: YTL Foundation | Facebook

Apart from education-related initiatives, YTL also contributed RM1 million to the government’s COVID-19 fund, and actively aided NGOs in need of food aid and other necessities. In addition to donating mobile phones and Chromebooks to frontliners in Hospital Sungai Buloh, YTL also provided face masks, disinfectants, rental assistance and free meals to communities in need.

YTL’s CSR initiatives throughout the pandemic are diverse, but they are all motivated with the same core mission: to empower and uplift communities, especially in times of need.

“The pandemic has given rise to significant soul searching both in business and at home, and the issues of integrity and purpose in business have risen to the fore. Our purpose is echoed in the words of prominent Greek statesmen, Pericles (circa 450 BC): What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.[5] – Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, Executive Chairman of the YTL Group of Companies

3. Nestlé Malaysia

Committed to playing their part in the national response to COVID-19, Nestlé has carried out an array of CSR initiatives to help Malaysians overcome their difficulties through these difficult times. 

When the early waves of the pandemic first rolled in, Nestlé immediately pledged RM15 million in support of COVID relief efforts. Their Milks Business unit also coordinated a big donation drive, sponsoring over RM4.5 million worth of nutritious everyday products to over 85,000 Malaysians from vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19, including PPR communities, charity homes, as well as frontliners[7].

Representatives from the Malaysian Red Crescent Society accepting Nestle’s contributions to the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, as a symbol of their partnership to help Malaysians fight COVID-19. Source: Nestlé

Other than house-to-house distributions of product kits and cash donations, Nestlé has also undertaken an effort called Bangkit Bersama Nestlé (Rise with Nestlé), a campaign aimed at supporting local food and beverage (F&B) operators impacted by COVID-19. In addition to trade assistance programmes, Nestlé also aims to help them build resilience, find new avenues of growth, and explore new commercial opportunities through digitalisation. Over 15,000 coffee shops, mamak shops, eateries and restaurants have benefited from this campaign[8]

The year-long effort culminated in its Nestlé Cares Back-to-School Programme in collaboration with the Empire Project. Over 1,100 children from low-income families received donations in the form of school supplies such as shoes, bags, stationery and uniforms. They were also provided Family Care Packs containing Nestlé products for nourishment.

Nestlé volunteers with project partners and some of the recipients of the Nestlé Cares Back-To-School Programme, which donated school supplies to more than 1,100 low-income families across Malaysia. Source: Nestlé

Even in 2021, Nestlé continues to amp up efforts to not just provide relief, but also to curb the spread of COVID-19. In March, they launched the Nestlé Quarantine Transit Station (QTS) to provide ‘close contact’ patients with an appropriate setting to self-isolate. This initiative also had the dual effect of easing the burden on healthcare facilities in Shah Alam and nearby areas, which were at the time increasingly strained due to the rise in cases[9]

Nestlé also supported vaccination drives by sponsoring food and beverages for the 250 front liners deployed at a vaccination centre in Shah Alam. Malaysians vaccinated at the centre received a “goodness pack” – Nestlé’s way of saying thank you to all those who are setting an example for others to follow suit[10]

More recently in July, Nestlé Malaysia joined forces with 9 NGOs to provide food aid for over 20,000 households in the Klang Valley area, including senior citizens, disabled individuals, single parents, lower-income families, and Orang Asli communities. 

Source: Nestlé

Committed towards improving the lives of the communities in which they operate, Nestlé is a prime example of how corporations, too, can play a pivotal role in shifting outcomes during turbulent times. 

“With these Nestlé Cares initiatives in place, we hope that we can do our part to make a positive socioeconomic impact that can benefit Malaysians now and over the long-term, and subsequently contribute to the nation’s recovery in the months to come.[11]– Juan Aranolds, CEO of Nestle Malaysia Berhad 

4. MR DIY

Acknowledging the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on an underprepared society, MR DIY felt a strong calling to step up its humanitarian aid to front-liners, first aid responders and vulnerable groups. In light of the outbreak, the home improvement retailer immediately mobilised resources to help Malaysians protect themselves against the virus. In February 2020, MR DIY distributed 3.5 million face masks nationwide[11].

When shortages of protective equipment became increasingly acute, the group utilised its fleet of more than 100 delivery trucks and worked with various organisations to deliver much needed essentials to various entities[12]. As the logistics partner for The Edge COVID-19 Equipment Fund, MR DIY assisted in the sourcing, sorting and distribution of PPEs to 46 hospitals, 60 district health offices, 5 health clinics and several medical centres. 

MR DIY contributed 300 units of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) frontliners. Source: MR DIY

In their ‘Stay safe, Malaysia’ campaign, Mr DIY supported frontliners by donating 12,832 pieces of PPE, 172,500 pieces of face shields, 288,500 face masks and 21,900 bottles of sanitisers via the Ministry of Health. Food, plastic containers and safety goggles were also given to health facilities that were facing shortages. This effort was then extended to police and reserve forces manning district and state borders – over 2560 boxes of face masks, flash lights, batteries and rain coats were received by police district offices nationwide[12].

When new circumstances arose, MR DIY quickly adjusted their CSR initiatives to adapt to changing needs. When some parts of the nations were badly affected by floods during monsoon season for example, the company provided vital supplies to displaced communities. And when cases surged in Sabah, they airlifted emergency equipment and supplies to Semporna, Lahad Datu, Tawau, and Kunak[13]. Some of their other initiatives include providing 

back-to-school necessities for Orang Asli schoolchildren in one remote area, establishing a Do-It-Yourself skills centre in another and repairing a damaged bridge in a third[12]

By the end of 2020, the company had invested a total of 4.6 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic[12].

Committed to expanding their community efforts, MR DIY recently collaborated with Krayon4Society to deliver household items and food packs for 50 disadvantaged families in Kampung Batu 16 Dusun Tua, Hulu Langat. In a separate effort to provide food aid to an Orang Asli village in Kelubi, they partnered with Waz Lian Foundation and successfully aided a total of 480 recipients through this project.

Though their efforts varied in size and scale, they were centered around one primary objective: to make real and tangible differences to the communities they help. 

Source: MR DIY

“The pandemic has been a very challenging time for our healthcare professionals, and has stretched our healthcare services to the absolute limit.  As a socially-responsible corporate citizen, we want to support the rakyat and the country in meaningful ways.[14]  – Adrian Ong, CEO of MR D.I.Y. Group (M) Berhad

5. Biji-Biji Initiative

A grassroots innovation that quickly went viral back in 2020 was that of medical frontliners who, due to critical shortage of face shields and PPE, resorted to using cling wraps and plastic bags to protect themselves[15]. Whilst exciting, the news shedded light on an alarming reality – the needs of doctors were being severely overlooked.

Quick to spring into action, Biji-Biji Initiative sought to play its role as a sustainability-driven enterprise to help frontliners attain the protective equipment they need. Just days after the first MCO was imposed, the organisation mobilised their network of makers to design, test and produce the face shields for frontliners on duty. The goal was to produce protective face shields that were both durable and reusable, complete with their replaceable parts. 

Source: Biji-biji Initiative | ASB

Though at first it seemed like an impossible task, the team was able to organise multiple production sites and successfully distributed 1,500 face shields within the span of just 5 days.

Biji-Biji also took part in the Social Textiles movement, a collective of social impact organisations utilising a decentralised production platform to tackle the increasing demand of PPE scrub sets. Together with Me.reka, Earth Heir, Tanoti Crafts, Biji-biji Ethical Fashion and other enterprises, the group produced and delivered over 20,000 face shields,1505 aerochambers, and 58 patient isolation boxes to 75 frontline organisations across Malaysia[16]

While their first phase relied heavily on volunteers and took a non-profit approach, their second one was more entrepreneurial: in their effort to aid doctors, they also wanted to economically uplift individuals in need. 

Tailors were brought in from marginalised and disadvantaged B40 communities[17]. These makers were then paid for each scrub set they created. It’s a win-win scenario: doctors receive the equipment they need, and vulnerable individuals are more able to financially sustain themselves during a time of economic decline.

By building on the skills already firmly embedded in the enterprise’s network, Biji-Biji cultivates a culture of innovation that is sustainable and at the same time, answers society’s calls for help during a challenging time.

Inspecting the finished protective face shields. Source: Biji-biji Initiative | Tatler

“Our appreciation and respect for public health, the fragility of life, collaborative working methods, value-creating jobs, digital solutions,digital careers, and critical response times will be much higher. It’s now imperative that every organisation re-imagines its relevance in this new world, and that we continue to nurture and protect it with the utmost care and deeper unity.” Rashvin Pal Singh, CEO of Biji-Biji Initiative

Explore Our Sources

  1. Taylor’s Education Group. 2020. Taylor’s CSR Continues Works of Charity Amidst Coronavirus. Link
  2. Taylor’s Community. 2020. Annual Report: Our Journey 2020. Link
  3. Taylor’s Community. 2020. Adapting and Changing Mindsets. Link
  4. News Straits Times. 2020. 400,000 SIM cards with mobile data handed out under YTL’s ‘Learn From Home’ initiative. Link
  5. YTL. 2020. Sustainability Report: Making A Good Future Happen. Link
  6. YTL. Learn from Home. Link
  7. Nestlé. 2020. 15 mil. pledge fulfilled. Link
  8. Nestlé. 2020. Bangkit bersama Nestlé. Link
  9. Nestlé. 2020. Nestle Quarantine Transit Station. Link
  10. Nestlé. 2021. Nestle provides relief to over 20,000 households in Klang Valley. Link
  11. MR DIY. 2020. MR.DIY Supports Its Customers By Giving Out 3.5 Million Face Masks Nationwide. Link
  12. MR DIY. 2020. Annual Report 2020. Link
  13. MR DIY. 2020. CSR: Sabah. Link
  14. Kr8tif Express. 2021. Mr DIY executes their 62nd CSR Program. Link
  15. Yahoo News. 2020. Doctors, nurses turn to plastic bags, cling wrap amid shortage of PPE in Malaysia’s Covid-19 battle. Link
  16. BusinessToday. 2020. Me.reka seeks partners to empower the social textile movement. Link
  17. PioneersPost. 2020. Pandemic pivoting: how Malaysia’s social enterprises are responding to the Covid-19 crisis.Link

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