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CSR and the cash register

India’s Jubilant Organosys gets top rating from IFC.

Print Edition: February 10, 2008

When the International Finance Corporation (IFC) recently put out its report (Market Movers: Lessons from a Frontier of Innovation) on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in action in emerging economies, Noida-based Jubilant Organosys found itself as the only Indian company to be featured in it. Yet, Ashok Ghose, Jubilant’s chief of EHS (Environment, Health and Safety), isn’t patting himself on the back. “The report helped us understand what we got wrong as much as what we got right,” he says. IFC, and SustainAbility, a UK-based firm, has lauded Jubilant as “a company that has been able to reassure and attract existing customers and investors by efficiently building sustainability into its business model”.

The recognition comes following years of hard work. Over the last 5-6 years, Jubilant has launched a spate of initiatives aimed at socially responsible production. “So far, we have spent around Rs 140 crore on such initiatives,” reveals Ghose. “From now on, we have decided to set aside 6-7 per cent of any project outlay towards related CSR activities.” Jubilant’s environmentallyfriendly moves include setting up of a water treatment plant for producing biogas from distillery effluents (the gas produced by this plant now saves the pharmaceutical company 250 tonnes of coal equivalent a day), conservation of fresh water, useful disposal of fly ash, and odour management from its units. It also uses molasses, a by-product of sugar production, as its chemical feedstock. “The reason is simple,” explains Ghose. “Molasses is cheaper and abundantly available compared to crude oil-based raw material substitutes.”

Evidently, it pays to build CSR into one’s business model. For the second quarter of 2007-08, Jubilant clocked revenues of Rs 618.30 crore with net profits of Rs 110 crore— double of what it reported in October 2006. Says Ghose: “To continue to build our international presence will require more crossborder takeovers, and the positive image created by the sustainability reporting and EHS activities will help us make such moves.” It’s a whole new spin to CSR.

— Manu Kaushik

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