A growth strategy given priority within the Ricoh Group is “value-creating CSR,” which achieves two goals at the same time: solutions to social problems as well as corporate growth. We conduct collaborative activities with stakeholders to become part of the solutions for social issues, and in doing so, we not only address global concerns but also simultaneously utilize our technologies, products and services, and human resources to build new markets, attract new customers and introduce innovation.
■ Value-Creating CSR
At Ricoh Netherlands, then known as NRG Benelux B.V., an Afghan employee expressed concern about the worsening social situation in his native country, even after the regime collapse of 2001. He suggested that the company could do something to help rebuild his country and benefit its future. Under the Taliban regime, education was a privilege granted only to elites and thus was not accessible to many Afghan people. Rebuilding educational infrastructure is a pressing issue for Afghanistan, as almost all school facilities and equipment were destroyed over many long war-torn years.
In response, the company explored various possibilities for social contributions in line with their business, and decided to help Afghanistan by improving educational opportunities for children. Accordingly, the company donated 75 recycled copiers for duplicating learning materials, most of which were lost during the war. For the next 18 months, the company made careful preparations, selecting appropriate devices for use in rugged conditions, selecting schools to receive the donated devices, and establishing a repair and maintenance system. Finally, in September 2003, Ricoh copiers started operation at schools in Kabul.
In 2005, it was decided that an additional 75 recycled copiers would be donated. Furthermore, rather than stopping at the donation of copiers, this project opened new possibilities. The establishment of a company to handle machine repair and maintenance generated employment opportunities, contributing to economic independence. This new initiative was highly evaluated by governmental agencies, the United Nations, and NGOs, which also acquired some copiers. By 2007, Ricoh's business share grew to 60% in Kabul, and the number of the company's employees increased to 36.
In 2010, Ricoh Netherlands replaced the analog copiers with digital ones as its continuous support initiative. The company also donated PCs in collaboration with an NGO in order to promote ICT education. The current focus is to promote sustainable completion of the program. In 2012, a local company became an official sales agent of Ricoh, and the project is also aiming to develop into a local, self-sustaining business — a transformation from something that started as a social contribution into a successful business endeavor.