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
In India, which has the world’s largest population of children, many children either cannot attend school at all or drop out before completing the minimum level of education offered. Various factors are to blame, including low-quality educational services and a lack of necessary infrastructure and supplies. So Ricoh, which provides products and services that support learning environments, decided to draw on these strengths to help remedy the situation. In 2011, we launched a program in cooperation with Save the Children to contribute to education in India and thereby build a platform for national development.
In May that year, we began an education support program in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in southern India. We donated duplicators to schools, authorities and NGOs and conducted workshops on the use of duplicators to effectively raise the quality of lessons and to share information. Also, seeking to improve the learning environment in this region, we encouraged school management committees, teachers and communities to raise awareness regarding education and to cultivate the necessary expertise, promoted club activities for children, and developed a network of people involved in education to provide a better environment for teaching and learning. Through these activities, we laid the foundation to improve standards in an independent and consistent manner so that more children are able attend school regularly.
Looking at results achieved over the past three years, we found that the enrollment rate in the region rose to 88%, from 81%, and classroom attendance for sixth graders jumped to 90%, from 84%. The government has also recognized the value of duplicators and now allocates a budget for buying ink and other supplies to keep duplicators in running order.
In April 2014, we began a program to enhance education quality through the use of projectors and digital teaching materials in the classroom, designed to make the learning process more fun and thereby encourage greater student input. We packaged teacher training materials with the digital teaching materials and asked each local government to provide widespread teacher training on the use of projectors and digital teaching materials. This should support steady improvement in the quality of classroom education. Some aspects of this program are linked to a preliminary survey on an educational service business, which is utilized as part of a preliminary survey on prospective cooperative projects—to promote business models for Base of the Pyramid (BOP) businesses—with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Ricoh Group hopes that this program will lead to a higher attendance ratio, improve students’ comprehension level, and enable schools and teachers to steadily enhance education quality on their own.
■ Results of the program through utilization of digital duplicators
In the local area, duplicator penetration is very low; only government offices and major private schools have them. But since teachers have evidently been able to use time more effectively and prepare more tests and teaching materials using Ricoh's duplicators donated under the program, we were able to demonstrate the benefits of the duplicators to the government.
Regarding sales activities in a region such as the district concerned, through the program, we discovered that it was important to coordinate with local bodies and the state government to create needs for our products, and to offer products which address region-specific issues including power cuts, low cost and easy availability of supplies such as ink and toner.
We also know through surveys that recent customers tend to choose products from a company that engages in CSR activities. Encouraged by these reports, we will communicate Ricoh's initiatives and achievements to our customers.