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In an Exclusive Interview with Smt. Suman Minda Ji, Chairperson Suman Nirmal Minda Foundation (Uno Minda Group)

Mrs. Suman Minda is the President and Chairperson of Suman Nirmal Minda Foundation (SNMF). She has been in social work since more than two and a half decades touching thousands of people who are in need. She redesigned the CSR policy of Uno Minda Ltd. and repositioned its work into key areas like Education, Vocational training, Preventive & curative healthcare and Community well-being and development. She has been running multiple community centric programs across India and at International locations. Additionally, Mrs. Minda serves as a President on the Board of The Suman Nirmal Minda School and Samarth – Jyoti running under SNMF banner. She has been spearheading the activities/ projects and since last one decade, she has enlarged the scope of CSR based on an exhaustive assessment of the needs of the communities. These encompasses innovative projects such as providing Education, Vocational training and livelihood through Self Help Group (SHG) initiative to different community members residing in the operational areas. Under her leadership, the organisation has done tremendous work during COVID19 pandemic and provided food and health care support to people suffering during the challenging days at PAN India level. As a passionate philanthropist and Industry leader, she often supports families at personal level by providing financial supports for their health care & treatment. In addition, she is helping and sponsoring dialysis for patients suffering from chronic kidney diseases and cataract surgeries for deprived families. Under her able leadership and guidance, Uno Minda Group and SNMF received several national recognitions. Suman Minda Ji has also been honoured with various awards & accolades and is acknowledged by very senior officials and panchayat Leaders for her contribution and exemplary work. Here are some highlights of the discussion on Suman Nirmal Minda Foundation’s work under Uno Minda Group banner.

What was the first CSR initiative of Uno Minda Group in India and when was it undertaken? Kindly share with us the areas you are focusing on? 

Uno Minda Group through its CSR arm Suman Nirmal Minda Foundation and other social trust running various projects at PAN India level. The first project was commenced with our support in the year 2001 to initiate long term institutional care for children who were in need of care and protection. Later on projects were expanded as per the requirements. We started our flagship project Samarth – Jyoti in 2012 with our vision to enable and empower underprivileged to live life with dignity and happiness. Our educational program helps out of school children to mainstream them to regular schooling and vocational training empowers adolescent girls and women to become self-reliant. We majorly focus on Education, Vocational training, Preventive & curative healthcare and Community well-being & development.

We added COVID19 last year as a special thematic area to help people suffering during pandemic.

How would you define corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

I am very passionate about community service and I consider it as an opportunity for corporates. For me, CSR is a sincere responsibility for corporations/ industries for the welfare of overall community wherever they operate. Everyone should participate actively and use this opportunity for development to bring substantial change in the society. At Uno Minda Group, one of our group goals is linked to CSR which ensures our commitment towards society. I feel, it’s long journey which will be achieved through convergence and partnership with likeminded people and organisations.

How Uno Minda Group is contributing towards betterment of society?

Uno Minda Group through its foundation (SNMF) is running various community centric programs in the above mentioned thematic areas to help community members in overall manner. All our initiatives are structured and tailored to provide all round support. Till date we have benefited more than 1.50 lakhs beneficiaries directly and indirectly through our projects started in 2012. In addition to this, we have also reached and benefitted approx. 88k people last year through our special COVID19 project. We are planning to start few more projects in the field of education to expand our reach in next few years.

How do you educate your people about the work on CSR? After all, it needs a big behavioural change, isn’t it?

Yes, behaviour change is very important when it comes to “sewa”. Talking about our group, we have various opportunities and avenues to educate our people about CSR. We try to involve all our stakeholders from the beginning of the project to its success. We involve local PRI members, representatives in all the community related work; we encourage our employees to volunteer in campaigns. Our group’s organisation structure is designed in such a manner that involves and encourages people from different level to volunteer and participate in the activities. We have a structured agenda/calendar that involves different people to learn about the importance of projects and CSR.

Does CSR require a paradigm shift?

CSR has to be ongoing and it needs to be aligned with Sustainable Development Goals. It’s been 8 years when Govt. of India mandated CSR and till date many companies participated and started their projects which would increase in the future as well. All organizations need to work together and share their best practices to witness improvement in this journey of development. I thank all the organisations, bodies including CSR times team for organising various workshops, seminars and trainings to educate and sensitize people. This will certainly bring paradigm shift by developing ownership amongst professionals, implementing agencies and companies. Anything worth mentioning or highlighting on the various programs conducted by Uno Minda? I would like to mention that Uno Minda Group has always been at forefront when it comes to community development work be it with our vocational training centers, educational remedial programs, IT literacy programs or The Suman Nirmal Minda School. At Uno Minda, we don’t look at CSR as our liability but it is engraved in our culture, ideology and goal. We have a robust system and we believe that our service to our communities will help us all grow and flourish. We all should be proud of our foot prints in the community and I believe that integrating CSR at the core of business ideologies will benefit everyone.