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World Vision, the CSR Enabler d R
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Inter rview w with Wor Visio rld on’s Jam mes Quek and M k Mindy Ch hee
World V Vision was e established in 1950 wit a mission to care th n for Asia orphans. More than half a century later, World an W Vision h embraced commun has nity develop pment and advocacy a for the poor so tha children a at and their families migh be able ht to build sustainabl futures. W d le World Vision Singapore was n e establis shed in 1983, from its humble beg ginnings as a field operatio base to help the Vietnamese “ ons o “Boat People” in the 1970s. • •

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(l-r) Mr James Que & Ms. Mi r. ek indy Chee The CSR Digest ma R anaged to catch up with World Vis sion Singapo ore’s Execut tive Directo Mr James Quek. Que has had or, s ek more th two dec han cades of exp perience in communica ations, public r relations and managem ment in Sing gapore, having worked as a senior journalist at The Business Times and r s serving in business schools in two of Singapore’s un s n niversities. He is jo oined in the interview w with Ms. Min Chee, World ndy W Vision S Singapore’s External Re elations Ma anager.

©2008-2009 DC Publicatio Sdn Bhd ons -X). All rights rese erved, except whe ere (846388indicated. Copyright of Dev . viant Art visuals remain wi the authors/ar ith rtists.


CSRD: How many corporate sponsors does World Vision have in Asia? MC: We don’t have the exact numbers at the moment, but the majority of them are multinationals, and a huge chunk of them, and 60 to 70 percent are from Asia as well. CSRD: Do you work in partnership with companies in more than one country? MC: Yes, we try to find synergy. We have a model, but we synergize it according to our partner and to the situations. We replicate the same model, for example, in this region. CSRD: Does partnership and sponsorship differ from region to region? MC: It depends very much on the magnitude of the company, how wide and far they want to spend on CSR. Also, each country wants to support their own country’s needs. For example, Proctor & Gamble in India are supporting Indian programmes. They have a 6 year educationbased CSR programme they are running there. CSRD: How much work your corporate partners helped in term of Mongolia? MC: Mongolia is quite a unique, in the sense when a corporate chooses a particular country, they must have a presence over there. A lot of companies we work with unfortunately do not have a presence in Mongolia. But what they do help us with is they push child sponsorship through their own employees, to pick up sponsorship as individual sponsors. There are also ad hoc projects, what we call children in crisis. In Mongolia, there is a street children lighthouse, which supports street children as they are given up by their family. And knowing the situation in Mongolia, the temperatures there can reach to -40 degree, and a lot of these children are forced to live in underground tunnels, what we call the sewage system here. This is the warmest place they can find in the winter time. Unfortunately, the pipes in those underground tunnels are very badly maintained, and most of the time, the pipes explodes in the middle of the night. A lot of kids get scalded, and in cases when infections kick in, they also die. I spoke with one of these child protection officers in Mongolia, who said that if a child lived a week in the streets, there is high chance, a 70-80 percent chance that he or she will get sexually assaulted. The street children centre forms partnerships with the community as well for the children for drop-in centre kinds of facility


A young boy in a refugee camp in Southern Africa eats his rice. The food crisis in Southern Africa grows worse by the day as grain prices continue to rise


CSRD: Do you have business participating in these programmes? MC: It is more of the individual sponsorship in Mongolia, not so much corporate sponsors. CSRD: That’s a shame. MC: Yes, but we are planning to improve this over time. JQ: But Mongolian children are very well received. At least , in Singapore, people want to sponsor Mongolian children. MC: Mongolian children are very cute, they have rosy cheeks. But we do also need to educate our sponsors because there are also other kids for sponsorship. There is a lot of sponsorship for the cute children, but not so for the darker skin children. Sponsorship goes beyond that border. CSRD: Do you know what is going on with partnership in World Vision Malaysia? MC: There two parts to World Vision, we have what we call a support office that does fundraising, and the other is what we call the national office, which implements development projects. Malaysia and Singapore fall under support offices, meaning that we do fundraising.

But the corporate social responsibility there is growing over. But more needs to be done. In a way, a lot of companies want to implement CSR into their business agenda, but they have no handles or no hands or no know-how to do so, and that’s where NGOs like World Vision will come in very nicely as their hand to do so. Malaysia is likewise in a similar position, I would say. CSRD: There is a downtrend in the world economy. Has there been any reduction in the sponsorship or financing? JQ: Thank God, so far no. But it is early days. We are in our Q1 numbers (from October to December), so it’s still early. We have exceeded our targets, but like I said, it is still early days. The next two or three quarters will be more telling. We are hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, but I think our commitment to the field … the needs are always there, economic downturn or not.

In fact, during economic downturn, the needs are greater. For example, during the recent food crisis, when we all feel the pinch, but we ate less perhaps, but down in the field, there are people reduced to poverty with nothing to eat. So our commitment will not diminish in any way. We’ll do our very best. CSRD: Who are your biggest sponsors in the region?


JQ: It’s very hard to say. P&G is our champion and one of our biggest sponsors. They speak louder than us, speak better than us and sell us better than us. We have a very wonderful partnership because of the driver, from P&G management and our shared vision. It cascades down through the company, 2,500 of them. It is very integrated, not only on personal level


but also at a corporate level. Disaster relief kind of sponsorship comes at the corporate level. On personal level, a lot of their employees are child sponsors. The other day, we got sponsors from US, Japan and UK, and we wondered where they came from. Then we found out they are actually from P&G, because they have a very international mix of employees. We also have other very supportive multi-nationals, like Capital Land and Jebsen and Jessen MC: Yes, and also Johnson and Johnson. World Vision works with very diverse portfolio companies whether MNC or SME. We actually customise CSR, and hope to synergise what the business objective of the company together with what World Vision does best. It’s actually a win-win situation. CSRD: So you work with local companies? JQ: We just met with Tony from Flextronic (Tony Khaw, Director Operations Excellence (Corporate Responsibility & EHS), Asia Pacific Flextronics, Singapore). He was sharing how he was involved with us during tsunami, and he is looking for further collaboration, and other many small companies. MC: And the government boards as well, like the Health Promotions Board. When we ran a HIV exhibition last year, they pumped SGD300,000.00 sponsorship for us to run the twomonth campaign. We fared well so far because we have strong support from the grassroots. Most of our child sponsors are individuals not companies. And then when individuals in a company becomes educated and sure of the concept of child sponsorship, they started to talk to their friends and this is what has happened in the past, especially during last Christmas. CSRD: More social work organisations run more like business, and more and more business run their affairs like charitable organisations. What are your thoughts on that? JQ: Helping people is a business, because we need proper structure and organisation. We have 50 years of history, we learned that you can have the people, but if you don’t have the structure, organisation, the balls will drop. It will not be sustainable over a long period of time. Our programmes runs for at least 10 to 15 years. We cannot run it like a family business. So we have corporate governance, we have structure, reporting system, peer review, there have been complaints by World Vision International that we are over-audited. So helping the poor is hard work, but it is also a business - not business in the sense of profit, but it needs to be run like a business - efficiently so that the poor need not suffer. CSRD: Why should businesses choose World Vision as community partner? JQ: One of them is trust, if people do not have trust, once it is broken, it is very hard to continue our relationship with our donors. Over 60 years, World Vision has maintained a very strong level of trust mainly because we have delivered our promises to the donor, as well as to the people we help. This reservoir and well spring of trust has been there in good times and bad times. We have noticed that. during bad times, our support base has not diminished. In fact, it goes up. In bad times, people understand that other people need more help.



CSRD: H How can Wo orld Vision and other N NGOs assist businesses to greater good in thi bad t s r is time? JQ: In m many compa anies, they realise they do want to do good. I many ins y o In stances, they can do good in a very l d limited way because of their limite resource Their key reason to do f ed es. y busines is to mak profit, an they find out that to help the po is anoth business, so ss ke nd o oor her they fou und out tha their reso at ources is str retched.

So the v value that W World Vision gives to th business, whether M n he MNC or SME, is that Wo orld Vision is a global c company. And if they w want to do good and he g elp, they ca also have the an e global r reach that W World Vision has. If you want to do good in Et n u o thiopia, but you have no t n resourc to go an help the community in Ethiopia But we ha a presen there. ces nd y a. ave nce We can enable you, facilitate a and help yo do that. Like in the c ou L case of P&G they want to help G, t in India Myanmar. And they d a, don’t want t be distracted from their core bu to usiness, so they partner with us. So we help them to help those peo o, p ople in India Myanmar, because th a, , heir employees want to help. So th o here is perfe synergy My simple answer is t ect y. e that, World Vision, because of our glo e obal reach, c help companies to have an im can mpact locally and globa in y ally area of their choice e. CSRD: D you hav any advic to studen or young professiona who wan to go into CSR? Do ve ce nt als nt o JQ: It is a very mea s aningful asp piration, to not just wa to work for a living. I have foun a lot ant . nd of youn people ar very tune in to this idea of doing good while working, even amo ng re ed s ong our staff, w who used to work with b compan big nies, but the realise th there is more to livi ey hat ing than just ear rning money These are people with vision an passion. Helping the poor is a y. e nd e busines so we ne ss, eed professionals with skill and th ability, co he oupled with passion an nd vision. T They are the almost pe erfect comb bination. Wit thout moral calibre you can get u discour raged very e easily.◊


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