ET Corporate Citizen of the Year: Ma​rico – A pioneer in giving back to society before CSR and ESG came into vogue

For Marico, one of India’s leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, sustainability became a core business strategy much before India Inc recognised it to be an important aspect of doing business. Its social welfare initiatives impact a variety of stakeholders such as farmers, local communities, women and youth, teachers, students, and government agencies. That’s why the jury chose Marico as Corporate Citizen of the Year.

“Given the high-profile companies nominated for the award, I was unsure whether Marico will win it,” chairman Harsh Mariwala said. “Unlike most companies that started doing good for society after the CSR (corporate social responsibility) law came in or under pressure from investors on ESG (environmental, social, governance), we at Marico began this journey of corporate citizenship or governance or giving back to the society 20 years back. We have a strong purpose in the organisation to make a difference. The goal is to create value for the society by creating solutions to society’s challenges.”

Under its water stewardship programme Jalashay, Marico has created 2.63 billion litres of water conservation capacities pan-India. Under the Parachute Kalpavriksha initiative, the company has improved the productivity of over 70,000 small-scale coconut farmers by boosting their productivity by 15% year-on-year. Nihar Shanti Pathshala Funwala is Marico’s flagship CSR programme that helps digitise school education. Nihar Skills Academy is a vocational skill empowerment academy that was set up in FY22.

The Marico Innovation Foundation, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Marico, was established in 2003 to support disruptive innovations. So far, the foundation has engaged with over 100 mentors and has been associated with 100+ indigenous innovations across sectors such as agriculture, clean energy, education, consumer goods and medtech.


“We are playing a catalytic role rather than investing money in a hospital or school- that’s not our way of giving back to society,” said Mariwala, who has been influenced by the book Firms of Endearment by Jagdish Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia. “I am against giving donations to schools and hospitals because to me that is cheating in effect. One needs to treat the root cause. That’s where we come.”

Marico is recognised as one of the best companies to work at. The share of renewable energy in the company’s operations stands at 70%. The company has achieved 96% recyclable packaging through its upcycle programme. In FY22, Marico was the only FMCG company to feature in the leadership category in the Crisil Sustainability Yearbook 2022 and Marico’s MSCI ESG rating moved up to AA.

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