Corporate Contribution in the Health
Sector: The Case of Bangladeshi Banking
Dewan Mahboob Hossain (1)
Nurazzura Mohamad Diah (2)
(1) Associate Professor
Department of Accounting & Information
University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
(2) Head, Department of Sociology
International Islamic University Malaysia
Dewan Mahboob Hossain
Department of Accounting & Information
University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
This study examines the contribution
of the corporate sector in the healthcare
sector of a developing economy - Bangladesh.
In order to fulfil this objective,
the researchers focused on the contribution
of the banking sector through six
case studies. The annual reports of
the banks were taken as the sources
of data. Content analysis of these
annual reports was conducted. It was
seen that in many ways, the companies
in the banking sector of Bangladesh
are trying to contribute to the healthcare
sector of Bangladesh. From the context
of a poor country, these attempts
can be considered as praiseworthy.
Key words: corporate contribution,
health sector, Bangladesh
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
is not anymore a new term in the business
world. These days, corporations all
over the world are taking this issue
seriously. On one hand this kind of
activity helps to build corporate
image and on the other hand society
benefits from these activities. There
is no doubt that nowadays the whole
world is facing a good number of social
problems. Some of the significant
problems that we are facing these
days are the problems of poverty,
environmental degradation, social
inequality, health and illness, drugs,
crime and terrorism and some others.
In order to deal with these problems
the society needs a combined effort.
Government, NGOs, businesses, activists
and individuals - all should be aware
of these problems and try to make
a contribution to minimize all these.
This paper is concerned with the social
problem of health and illness. All
over the globe a good number of people
suffer from many diseases. Some of
these diseases are still regarded
as non-curable. In many cases, treatments
are becoming expensive. Poor people,
mainly in the developing economies
are not being able to afford the needed
treatment. Moreover, the lifestyles
of the rich people are making them
sick and ill. According to Henslin
(2011), over-industrialization has
created affluence and that has resulted
in rich food consumption and less
physical exercise. Moreover, in these
over ambitious industrial societies,
stress has become a common matter
in the lives of the people. All these
factors are resulting in more disease.
People all over the world are gradually
becoming concerned about health issues.
Both governmental and non-governmental
sectors are getting involved in solving
these problems. Media is also creating
social awareness about many diseases.
The corporate sector is also trying
to contribute in the health sector
as a part of their Corporate Social
Responsibility activities. This paper
highlights the contribution of the
corporate sector in the healthcare
sector in a developing economy - Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is considered as one of
the poorest economies in the world.
Healthcare facilities are not up to
the mark. In many cases the poor people
of the country do not get enough healthcare
facilities. Every year many people
die of diseases like diarrhoea, malaria,
dengue, kidney disorder, cancer and
others. Malnutrition is common in
this country. Moreover, the poor people
(mostly uneducated) are very much
unaware of health related issues.
In many cases, because of their lack
of awareness, they do not even understand
that they have become sick. Medical
facilities are not greatly available
in the rural areas. Also there is
a huge problem of availing emergency
As Bangladesh is a poor country, the
Government alone cannot afford to
perform all necessary activities related
to the progress of healthcare situations.
That is why, many international organizations,
along with the NGOs are offering their
assistance in the health sector. As
mentioned earlier, the corporate sector
is also contributing in this sector
these days. This paper mainly focuses
on the banking sector of Bangladesh
and its contribution to the health
sector. The banking sector of Bangladesh
is renowned for CSR activities. Especially
some of the local banks are considering
their CSR issues seriously.
There are many theories that explain
why corporate houses go for CSR activities.
Two of these theories that got immense
popularity from the researchers are
the stakeholder theory and the legitimacy
theory (Hossain, 2010).
The stakeholder theory emphasizes
on the fact that these days businesses
have to deal with many parties other
than the shareholders. In the past
it was thought that shareholders are
the only party (or stakeholder) to
whom a business should be accountable.
These days it is thought that a business
operates in a multi-stakeholder environment.
Other than the shareholders, there
are other important parties like labour,
managers, government, customers, social
activists, media, researchers and
in a way, the whole society. Business
has a symbiotic relationship with
the society. All these stakeholders
in many ways are dependent on the
business and business is also dependent
on them. A business has to deal in
a society. That is why it should be
careful about the interest and welfare
of the different stakeholders in a
society. As business is operating
in a society and generating profit,
it should not do anything that is
proved to be harmful to the society.
These days it is also expected that
other than generating profit, a business
should also contribute to the welfare
of the society by performing some
voluntary welfare activities that
contribute to these multiple stakeholders.
Stakeholder theory highlights that
in performing their activities, the
corporate houses should look after
the needs and demands of these multiple
Another important theory that explains
why companies perform CSR activities
is legitimacy theory (Deegan and Unerman,
2006). This theory highlights that
if an organization wants to survive
in a society, it has to legitimize
its activities in the eyes of the
society. In order to deal in the society
an organization must ensure that its
activities do not become harmful for
the society. In other words, the people
in the society must have a perception
that the organization is not doing
anything harmful to them. That is
why organizations always try to manage
the perception of the people in the
society. Organizations try to ensure
that the society thinks that the activities
of the organization are legitimate.
If the business organization cannot
manage this perception there will
be a legitimacy gap. This legitimacy
gap is dangerous for the organization
because it might result in some sort
of penalties from the part of the
society. If the people in the society
think that the activities of the organization
are harmful for them they may start
rejecting the products, there may
be negative media coverage, the organization
may have to face lawsuits and thus
lose goodwill in the market. So, legitimacy
is important for the survival of the
organization in the society. CSR is
one of the impression management tools
that can create a good perception
about the organization. By showing
that they are doing something good
for the society and contributing in
minimizing social problems, businesses
can legitimize their existence and
operation. Thus, CSR activities, by
creating a good perception among the
people of the society, can legitimize
the existence and operations of the
The Banking sector is a highly regulated
and a closely monitored sector of
Bangladesh. Because of its high public
visibility the organizations of this
sector needs to work at managing their
impression. They have to be responsible
and accountable to multiple stakeholders.
CSR activities, by contributing to
the mitigation of social problems,
can help in creating a good perception
among the stakeholders about the organization.
This research is qualitative in nature.
This research follows a case study
method. Six Bangladeshi banks were
selected for study. The contents of
their annual reports were analyzed.
These banks are public limited companies
and thus they have to produce annual
reports at the end of each financial
year. In most of the annual reports,
CSR activities are presented in a
narrative form. In this research,
these narratives were analyzed in
order to find out the nature of contribution
of these banks to the healthcare sector
of Bangladesh. The contents of the
annual reports of the year 2012 were
analyzed. The banks were selected
on a random basis.
This section of the article presents
the descriptions of the selected cases.
The contributions of the sample banks
in the healthcare activities are narrated
Case 1: Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited
Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited (DBBL) is
one of the most renowned banks that
performs a good number of CSR activities
for the community. In their annual
report of 2012 they mentioned various
CSR activities that they performed
for the whole year. From their report
it can be found that in this particular
year they have contributed in medical
infrastructure development, operation
of cataract and treatment of cleft-lip.
Other than these items they also provided
individual donations to people who
were in need of treatment.
In terms of infrastructure development
they contributed to several projects.
Firstly they donated 320 computers
for a project called 'Surjer Hashi'
(Smiling Sun). This project provided
an online MIS system that deals with
real time medical data. This project
mainly targeted the hill tracts and
the rural areas. Secondly, they donated
money to one of the most prominent
hospitals of Bangladesh for modernizing
equipment for liver transplantation,
kidney transplantation and cardiac
surgeries. Thirdly, they donated money
to a blood bank for purchasing cell
separators. Fourthly, the bank donated
an ambulance to a sea beach management
committee that provides emergency
support to the tourists. Fifthly,
they donated another ambulance to
a Diabetic hospital for supporting
the diabetic patients in emergency.
Other than these efforts of infrastructure
development, they donated money and
conducted cataract operations with
the help of several hospitals for
the under privileged visually impaired
people. In 2012 they conducted around
1200 cataract operations in seven
areas of the country. This bank has
been conducting this kind of operation
since 2008 and up to 2012, 3,505 operations
have been completed.
They also arranged operations for
cleft-lip patients (especially children).
They launched a program called 'Smile
Brighter'. In 2012 they conducted
218 cleft-lip operations for underprivileged
boys and girls. They are conducting
this program from 2003 and up to 2012
they have conducted 5,073 operations
in different parts of the country.
Other than all these programs the
bank also donated money to individual
persons suffering from different diseases
as they needed money for treatment
Case 2: Islami Bank Bangladesh
Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL)
is the first Islamic bank in Bangladesh.
Their activities are guided by various
They try to contribute in the health
sector in two ways. First, they themselves
invest in the health sector by establishing
hospitals and other infrastructures;
second, they contribute to other organizations
for the development of their healthcare
Over the years, IBBL has established
six hospitals that are under their
ownership. Other than this they have
also established seven community hospitals.
IBBL also helps those people who run
charitable dispensaries in several
communities. According to the data
provided in the 2012 annual report
of this bank, on an average two hundred
thousand patients get services from
these dispensaries every year.
Case 3: Bank Asia
In 2012, Bank Asia, in collaboration
with Bangladesh Eye Hospital conducted
ophthalmological operation of cataract
affected children. According to the
information in their annual report,
the bank has been conducting this
kind of CSR activity in collaboration
with Bangladesh Eye Hospital since
2005. Moreover, with the help of a
local NGO, the bank arranged year-long
school eye camps. Almost 10,400 school
children could check their eye sight
and many of them took treatment.
Other than this, the bank donated
money to two of the hospitals for
their infrastructure development.
Case 4: Mercantile Bank Limited
Though, in their annual report this
bank did not mention their contribution
to the health sector in details, they
mentioned that they provided both
institutional and individual support.
In terms of institutional support
they donated money to the Liver Foundation
of Bangladesh for buying the needed
equipment for the treatment of patients.
Other than this, they donated money
to Rawnok Diabetic Sangstha and National
Heart Foundation. They also donated
money to two hospitals for establishing
dialysis and eye units.
Case 5: Dhaka Bank Limited
Dhaka Bank Limited (DBL) has mainly
contributed to two institutions in
the year 2012. They donated money
to Glaucoma Research and Eye Hospital
for the people affected by Glaucoma
and other eye diseases. In addition,
to support the autistic children,
the bank donated money to Proyash
- an organization working with autistic
and disabled children.
Case 6: Eastern Bank Limited
According to the annual report of
2012 Eastern Bank Limited (EBL) mainly
provides institutional support rather
than contributing to individual patients.
EBL contributed in the treatment of
Thalassemia patients. EBL supports
Bangladesh Thalassemia Foundation
in their different efforts. In the
year 2012, EBL donated a Refrigerated
Centrifuge to this foundation.
This bank also supports Blind Education
and Rehabilitation Development Organization
(BERDO) - an organization that deals
with the physically and mentally disabled
people in Bangladesh. In 2012 the
bank donated five computers for the
education of visually impaired students.
EBL also donated computers to Proyash
- an institution working for the people
with various disabilities.
Analysis and Conclusion
If these cases are analysed, certain
features of corporate contribution
in the health sector in relation to
the banking companies of Bangladesh
can be identified.
Firstly, the sample banks taken as
cases contribute in the healthcare
sector mainly in three ways:
a. Some of these banks donated
funds for the infrastructure development
of several hospitals and other medical
b. Some of these banks contributed
to the society by joining hands with
some other institutions like NGOs.
c. Some of these banks went
for individual donations.
Secondly, various diseases along with
physical and mental disabilities got
importance from these banks. If these
cases can be analysed it can be seen
that the banks have donated for eye
treatment, liver treatment, kidney
treatment, thalassemia treatment and
some others. Other than these, autism
also got importance from one of these
banks. Thirdly, other than just donating
for treatment, banks invested in medical
camps. One of the banks donated money
for educating disabled people. Fourthly,
these banks mainly tried to help the
poor people who require financial
assistance for their health related
According to legitimacy theory, business
organizations must manage the perceptions
of the stakeholders in order to legitimize
their actions. There is no doubt that
the CSR activities are performed with
a motivation to manage the impressions
of the stakeholders. There are two
advantages of CSR activities. Firstly,
the companies can develop goodwill
that helps them to survive in the
market. Shareholders get benefit from
this. Secondly, the community/society
gets the benefits of these CSR activities.
Some other stakeholders than the shareholders
In a country like Bangladesh where
the population is huge and poverty
is massive, Government alone cannot
solve all the social problems. Healthcare
is a basic requirement for humankind.
That is why these corporate initiatives
in relation to healthcare facilities
can be considered as praiseworthy.
Deegan, C. and Unerman, J. (2006).
Financial Accounting Theory (European
edition). London: The Mc-Graw-Hill
Henslin, J. M. (2011). Social Problems
A Down to Earth Approach (10th edition).
Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Hossain, D.M. (2010). Social Responsibility
Practices of Business Organizations:
Bangladesh Perspective. In Williams,
G. (ed.), Responsible Management in
Asia Perspectives on CSR, UK: Palgrave