The need for CSR in unicorn startups

In the last few years, a lot of “unicorn” startups have sprung up. With insane valuations and a lot of PR around them, they seem to be the pathway to a new future where we will have self driven cars, intelligent homes and mobile phones which can probably do our work better than us. But in the middle of all this, I see something lacking – a dedication to improving the lives of those not so fortunate.

While certain occasions (natural disasters like the Chennai floods or acts of terrorism like the Paris attacks) do seem to bring out the best in these brilliant companies, there is no systematic approach to employing the skills of these startups for a greater good. While each startup claims to want to change the world, none seem to have a small program to do pro bono work which will change a small neighbourhood or a small town.

There are multiple ways in which startups can help the disadvantaged or the unemployed. For example, say startups in the food space could donate excess food at restaurants to food clinics or homeless shelters. Alternatively startups can look at vocational training for orphans / underprivileged children. In fact startups could even look at donating a lot of the old technical equipment/ excess stationary to schools and vocational institutes.

The possibilities are endless. It takes but some time for each startup to possible come up with ideas on how they can use their operational expertise to come up with a part of a solution to a larger problem.