‘Color, Way of Love’ provides art for all

Wee Siew Kim, CEO of Nipsea Group Photo: Courtesy of Nippon Paint China

On November 27, the campus of Yangfan Primary School in Henggouqiao township in Xianning, Hubei Province was filled with the sound of students’ cheers and laughter. Nippon Paint China, a member of the Nipsea Group, visited the school as part of its “Color, Way of Love” corporate social responsibility (CSR) project.

An art classroom was donated to the school, and volunteers, artists and students bonded over a series of art lessons and outdoor activities. A number of the students are “left-behind children,” whose parents have left their less-developed hometowns for big cities to find work. Since its launch in 2009, Nippon Paint China’s “Color, Way of Love” project has reached out to 297 schools in China by repainting campuses, building art classrooms and bringing in the company’s employees, artists and volunteers to inspire the students.

In light of the event, the Global Times (GT) sat down with Wee Siew Kim (Wee), CEO of Nipsea Group, who also attended the event. Wee shared his insight in fulfilling their CSR missions.

GT: What role does Nippon Paint China’s CSR strategy play in the company’s overall strategy?

Wee: The happy faces of the children say it all. All of us derive a great sense of satisfaction.

We are very appreciative of the government at the city, district, town and village levels giving us such overwhelming support. In Xianning, we have started operations in our biggest factory two months ago, which will serve Hubei, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces – a big, relatively prosperous part of China.

However, an organization is only successful because of its people, who make products and deliver services that must be accepted by the consumers. Therefore, our CSR program should be fully supported by our people and the community. Our CSR approach allows employees to be engaged, including factory workers and salespersons. We also open it up to our stakeholders and suppliers and welcome corporate partners.

GT: Since entering China in 1992, how has the group’s CSR strategy evolved and how is it different from that in other countries?

Wee: Across the group, we operate in 17 countries in Asia. Even as these countries have very different needs and are at different stages of economic development, we always keep true to our four pillars of CSR – education, environment, empowerment and economy. In China, most of our work is focused on the education pillar, which we have spent years testing, adjusting and improving.

We started the “Color, Way of Love” program by painting schools and building classrooms and toilets in 2009. But we found that these were only one-time engagements, and we started to think about what more we can do for these children that they could feel every day. So along with our corporate partners, we began to build art classrooms to develop the students’ use of colors and pursuit of art. Later, we dovetailed a program for university students to do volunteer work during their vacation time at these classrooms with the children.

Each year, we think on ways to improve our efforts. In 2015, we started the “Color, Way of Love, ART+ Project” and invited renowned artists from around the world to different schools to create mural paintings to inspire children through seeing artwork from a global lens. The program has been extended from China to many other parts of Asia where we operate such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where our local leaders try to see what they can learn and adopt from our China experience.

GT: How does the group design and deploy its CSR activities strategically and systematically?

Wee: We have a dedicated team of corporate community outreach and PR staff who constantly examine what we are doing and ensure it stays true to the four pillars. We most likely will not make revolutionary changes to the CSR programs in China next year, but we will be continuously making adjustments to make them better.

In 2017, our team decided that we do something impactful and create murals on public walls in Pudong district, Shanghai. I think the impacts of these efforts will go beyond Pudong and even Shanghai.

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