Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Corporate Social Responsibility Taking Hold in Bolivia

During the past few years the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been adopted by plenty of corporations in the United States and other developed countries. It used to be that only non-profits and special interest groups addressed issues such as poverty, sustainable development and other ethical aspects of doing business. Nowadays, some of the world’s largest firms can’t get away without making a CSR statement in their annual reports or adopting special measures in their daily operations. CSR is not about philanthropy; it’s about how companies earn their profits, rather than how they spend them in good works later.

In Bolivia, we’ve been dealing with sustainable development policies for some time now, primarily tied to government and international-cooperation programs. Private enterprise did not get into CSR or “Responsabilidad Social Empresarial” (RSE) as it’s called in Spanish until recently. However, there already are a handful of organizations that encourage CSR and seek to popularize it. Some of their accomplishments so far include generating a roster of members that consists of all major foreign oil and gas companies operating in Bolivia, and successfully launching two annual forums on CSR. (See the program for the most recent version)

Some Bolivian private organizations that encourage CSR practices are:

Concejo Boliviano de RSE (COBORSE). - A La Paz-based network, that seeks to become the main national promoter of CSR and sustainable development. COBORSE works with companies and other social actors in generating alliances and creating information networks. It currently has twenty-three members, the majority of which are business associations, non-profit organizations and foundations. Website:

Concejo Empresarial para el Desarrollo Sostenible (CEDES). - A foundation based in Santa Cruz, CEDES was began operating in 2003 and currently has around fifteen members, mainly energy and mining concerns. Its mission is to develop a network of enterprises that apply positive economic, social and environmental policies. Website:

FUNDES. - Which is really an international non-profit organization with operations in Bolivia; FUNDES provides support for small and medium enterprises (PyMEs) through consulting services and educational activities. Website:

Red de Desarrollo Sostenible y Medio Ambiente (REDESMA). - This non-profit group was founded in 1999 and is dedicated to linking organizations and creating an “ecological conscience” among private enterprises. It produces a good quantity of publications and hosts a number of events. Website:

Foro Boliviano del Medio Ambiente: FOBOMADE is a similar organization, but has a little more of a partisan and activist role. It leans towards preservation of the environment Website:

Some Bolivian governmental organizations that encourage Sustainable Development and CSR:

Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible (MDS). - The primary governmental institution when it comes to sustainable development, MDS generates national policies concerning the environment. It has legislative power over issues such as genetically modified crops, emissions control, water and forestry resources, industrial waste management, etc. Website:

Fondo Nacional de Inversión Productiva y Social.- The National Fund of Productive and Social Investment allocates financial resources at micro levels of government (municipal) Website:

Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Regional (FDNR).- A similar institution, FNDR, allocates funds to regional development initiatives. Website:

As we can see, there is a good base of organizations encouraging Bolivian companies to adopt CSR policies. We should expect more and more companies to start introducing CSR measures, which is a positive turn of events given that traditionally; private enterprise in developing countries is seen as non-responsive to social inequalities or environmental conservation.


Jonathan said...

A google schoolar search for CSR yields a good number of quality publications, visit them at:

Jonathan said...

How could I forgett:

Fundación PUMA:
This one is funded by USAID.

Anonymous said...

We are a Bolivian firm involved in the manufacturing sector. Our company is fully certified and we envision a future where more and more companies from the private sector follow the same route. Certification is the only way to actually maintain and promote CSR. The eradication of poverty and the public administration should follow the same route, the best way to diminish corruption and to create a reliable system for the future.
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