Importance of community health promotion among SMEs in Malaysia

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the decline of all economic sectors in Malaysia, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Malaysia’s Department of Statistics revealed that the contribution of SMEs to the country’s gross domestic product in 2021 grew by 1.0%, slower than Malaysia’s GDP, which grew by 3.1%.

The pandemic has also raised global concerns about the ability of governments to continue funding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), paving the way for the private sector to play a greater role in shaping related outcomes. to the SDGs.

One effort that can be undertaken is the reframing of the SDGs through a culture of health (CoH). Introduced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2013, the CoH involves a 4-pillar framework: employee health, consumer health, community health and environmental health. The CoH is a framework for action that improves health, well-being and societal equity in a diverse society through four areas of action: making health a shared value, fostering cross-sector collaboration, creating healthier and more equitable communities and strengthen health integration. systems and services. The framework recommends companies and businesses work with local health departments and community organizations to align CoH and SDG initiatives.

Awareness of community health is continuously emerging among Malaysian SMEs, with companies identifying the three main drivers for creating a healthier community as the built environment and physical living conditions; the social and economic environment; and politics and governance. To achieve these drivers, longer term planning, greater investment, knowledge and the right timing are required for effective execution.

Not all SMEs have the specific resources, technical knowledge and know-how to implement it. Nevertheless, for starters, these companies can champion community health by undertaking corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects in their business operations. Examples of CSR engagement activities include charitable giving and volunteering, natural disaster relief, refugee upskilling, establishing food banks for marginalized and disadvantaged communities, and many more. others.

When organizing CSR engagement activities, it is important to take into account the actions, policies and expectations of stakeholders and to align economic, social and environmental performance to achieve the goals of the SDGs. Depending on the nature of their activities and enterprises, SMEs can organize their CSR activities in relation to industries.

In Malaysia, companies can benefit from tax deductions by donating to registered charities, as announced in the 2020 budget. Bursa Malaysia has also asked all listed companies to disclose their CSR initiatives in their reports. annual. Indirectly, CSR projects and initiatives can help companies project a positive image and reputation, improve their brand image and increase their ability to attract and retain the best employees, thereby increasing the value proposition of the organization. .

It’s also an effective way to help their employees develop interpersonal skills and community awareness that can benefit job performance, from improving project management and communication skills to employee relations and engagement. employees. Many SMEs have increased their investment in CSR activities to realize their vision and develop successful business strategies.

Companies and businesses are aware that the pandemic has severely affected business operations and led to financial instability and business closures, to name a few. In addition, movement control orders have also limited movement and volunteering activities to those in need. As a result, SMEs have reduced or even withdrawn their CSR activities due to lack of resources and pressure to survive for business continuity.

Reports reveal that many social welfare and nonprofit organizations have been forced to end their volunteer programs and fundraising events due to public health and safety concerns. Thus, many organizations lack funds to alleviate the burden of poor and disadvantaged communities. Nonetheless, many SMEs have continued to reach out to the community and are still playing a part in helping many in need through this difficult time.

The road to economic and social recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic is not easy. As the recent United Nations General Assembly 2022 highlighted, the world faces new social, economic and geopolitical challenges. Now is the time for companies to seize the opportunities emerging from the recovery and the uncertainties. Companies should consider their corporate priorities and strategic direction when formulating and implementing CSR initiatives. In the long term, SMEs are encouraged to organize their CSR strategies to align them with their business strategies. There is a need to set a clear CSR vision and direction in companies, which will contribute to their growth in the market and sustainable business.

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