CSR activities are no longer restricted to large organizations with heavy marketing budgets, due to the SME boom in the UAE and GCC. In particular, online firms are very often taking the lead in targeted CSR and community activities that make a measurable difference.
“The advantages that online businesses possess in their commercial model – speed, adaptability, rapid response and community integration can also be channelled effectively to develop CSR campaigns. In fact, for smaller firms, CSR is not about making an expensive statement as much as it is to engage with the community for good causes as a daily way of conducting operations,” said Mr. Warrick Godfrey, Co-founder & CMO of Dubai-based online group buying site Cobone.
Cobone has seen tremendous success in local and regional markets, allowing people to access goods, services and luxuries at a fraction of their true price. In August, Cobone crossed the 1.6 million subscribers and has saved customers over AED 240 million in the process.
The same model of bulk consumer buy-in can be used to create substantiated positive change, as Cobone demonstrated when it launched a not-for-profit deal that asked for donations to the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The deal, launched in 14 December 2011, asked for AED 5 contributions that would allow WFP to feed a schoolchild for a week. Cobone customers could also pledge AED 20 to feed a child for a month, or AED 200 for the entire school year. By the close of the Cobone deal, sufficient funds had been raised for the WFP to provide 100,000 nutritious meals to school children in need. In 2012, Cobone.com ran two more deals for WFP placing almost 200,000 meals on the table for children in need.
“This initiative shows the power of crowd sourcing, and how technology can be a powerful mediator to bring people together for their own collective advantage as well as to help others. Cobone remains one of the pioneers of e-commerce, and we’re harnessing it for social endeavors too. Increasingly, we’re seeing the online space leading the charge for channelling the power of crowds to make a tangible, targeted difference to social wellbeing,” concluded Mr. Godfrey.
“Our partnership with Cobone illustrates how effectively and rapidly companies can make an impact by simply mobilizing their online community, especially when the appeal revolves around such a tangible and low-cost gesture”, said Elise Bijon, WFP Partnerships & Business Development Manager for the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Cobone has treated its CSR initiative in support of WFP’s School Meals programme with a genuine business spirit, capitalizing on its core expertise and infrastructure to help ensure an optimal reach and outcome; that’s precisely how we would like all our partners to support our cause.”