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Spotlight

Local CSR Initiatives on the Rise

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 13:32

As Mexico’s economy blooms, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are becoming more prolific. As stated in its corporate mission statement, Corporación Zapata seeks to have a positive impact in the community. “I believe that, as part of our business, we need to help build a community for those that do not necessarily have the opportunity to do so themselves. We are involved in many ways, in education to which we devote most of our money, and also in healthcare,” comments J. Arturo Zapata (JAZ), Executive President of Corporación Zapata. For instance, the company has a program called Programa Niño oriented at helping 38,000 impoverished children in the state of Hidalgo by covering their healthcare needs, building schools, and helping in other areas as needed. JAZ says this program provides a good example of community building, as after 28 years running of Programa Niño, Corporación Zapata is now taking care of the children of the people it first began to sponsor.

JAZ believes the most fascinating part about Programa Niño is the way it changed the dynamics of the communities. Once healthcare issues were covered, Programa Niño started getting involved with the local schools. The impact was most evident when one of the schools Zapata is sponsoring came in fifth place of the national school evaluation system. The improvement of the local school system also had an impact on the communities’ culture. “When we got there many years ago, there was a belief that women only needed to learn to read and write. After the second grade, girls would quit school and help their mothers at home. Today, not a single girl leaves school before finishing the ninth grade. We have not gotten them to finish high school yet, but now parents would be outraged if their daughters did not finish ninth grade,” says JAZ.

Although these rural communities remain poor, their conditions have improved. According to a study carried out by the Ministry of Health, the communities’ health standards are now equivalent to those of certain areas of in Mexico City and Guadalajara. JAZ emphasizes that the local dynamics have changed now that people are healthier and both men and women receive an education, the results of which can be seen in the local economy. “People in the community now have cars and there is even a bridge to make the villages more accessible. Besides people enjoying their pickup trucks, the overall well-being has improved in these areas,” says JAZ, explaining that previously, people had to walk to work at the nearby factory. The factory has now had to buy land to construct a parking lot, which is a reflection of the communities’ economic growth. “Having a car does give people satisfaction and exposure because they can go beyond their immediate environment and visiting distant places, gives them a different perspective on the world.” Corporación Zapata participates in many other social programs to fulfill its mission, but JAZ is particularly fond of the evident community building that Programa Niño continues to foster.