Issue 5, 2011. October-November

   

BUSINESSES INVESTING IN THE COMMUNITY

Responsible business practices are paving their way into the modern Georgian corporate culture. Case studies of prominent local and international companies indicate that social responsibility projects are now more diverse, systematic, long-term, and goal-oriented. Below are some of the most notable initiatives implemented by Georgian companies. An article analyzing the trend starts on page 25.

Bank of Georgia: Partnerships in Corporate Responsibility
In addition to the more traditional areas, environmental preservation is a leading sector in Bank of Georgia's corporate responsibility portfolio. During its two-year partnership with the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, the bank has financed the Park's tourist center renovation works, which were completed this October. Since the Bank envisions a long-term investment in the Park, the tourist center - featuring tailored hiking tours and guide assistance, a guesthouse, an administrative center, and an exhibition hall - was designed to be functional beyond the short vacation season.
In addition to its social and environmental importance, BOG's patronage of the Borjom-Kharagauli Park is an example of a successful partnership between government institutions, non-profit organizations - the Caucasia Nature Fund - and private companies.

Bank Republic: Corporate Culture Driven by Staff Initiatives
Bank Republic, as part of the bigger Société Générale Group, has numerous policies and programs in place to boost the company's positive impact on society. Staff involvement at Bank Republic in Georgia is particularly active with the bank's latest project providing monetary support to the street children in Tbilisi.
The spirit of volunteering does stem from the overall corporate strategy of social responsibility. As part of Bank Republic's traditional Citizens Commitment Week, Bank employees donated blood to children suffering from leukemia at the Iashvili Children's Hospital, while the company purchased essential furniture and supplies. Other initiatives provided monetary and in-kind donations to several orphanages in Georgia and sponsored and participated in the breast cancer support race.

BP Youth Capacity Building Project (YCBP). For more photos of projects, click here.

BP: Responding to the Community Needs
BP's has established a complex and comprehensive approach towards corporate social responsbility with the aim to help develop socio-economic conditions in communities through capacity building. The company works in partnership with different organizationsoffering the hands-on expertise needed in each particular area.
In partnership with the Georgian Organization of Scouts Movement as an implementing partner, BP intiated a Youth Capacity Building Project (YCBP) aims to teach students from 44 schools in the Baku-Supsa Pipeline's surrounding area leadership, presentation and communication skills through training sessions and summer camps at the Lagodekhi National Park. In addition to sharing daily choirs, the camp participants had the opportunity to take on leadership roles within the camp and get involved in Scout Organization's future projects.

DLA Piper: Supporting the community with pro bono legal advise and charity
From supporting charities like The Way of the Future to providing pro bono legal advice to an organization assisting NGOs, DLA Piper is using the best of its experience to help Georgians and the local community. In addition, thanks to DLA Piper's support, Georgian students can participate in the International Moot Courts (Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court and Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition). We provide financial support and one of our lawyers usually serves as a judge/arbitrator for local competitions. The law firm was also one of the partners of European Law Students' Association Georgia for its project Student Trainee Exchange Programme.

Eurasia Partnership Foundation: Awarding Green Business
Since 2008, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) has administrated BP's Eco-Awards. The awards are an annual event that reward communities and organizations for finding innovative ways to build a stronger society and safer environment.
The program is an opportunity to "empower local communities by increasing their ability to address local environmental problems."
In 2011, six proposals were awarded including a project to set up a nursery for Kolkhian Pheasants and bio-farming and eco-tourism in Upper Svaneti.In addition to Eco-Awards, EPF is active in educating businesses about CSR and social enterprise in Georgia.

JTI-Japan Tobacco International: "Sharing the Fruits of Success"
JTI believes in sharing the fruits of business success through Corporate Philanthropy programs that improve or enrich the communities it operates in. JTI has historically always given special attention to two areas: social and welfare programs, and support of arts and culture. In Georgia we run a charity project with Caritas Georgia, providing support for a free soup kitchen. 190 elderly people are getting daily food at Caritas soup kitchen. We also provide support to Japanese cultural programs in the country in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan.

KPMG Promotes Healthy Lifestyles, Assists Families in Need
KPMG Georgia, together with the David Mikeladze Fund for Future Scientists, started an annual charity football tournament in June. The fund was created to honor the memory of David Mikeladze, a KPMG employee killed in a car accident in January 2010. Proceeds from the tournament go to the fund to promote healthy lifestyles.
KPMG Georgia gave children presents, held a concert and donated books for the library at an orphanage in Kojori - as well as provided materials for repair and helped paint children's rooms. KPMG in Georgia also carried out a CSR project to help a settlement of low -income families in Dzegvi village, providing a refrigerator and other appliances for newly settled residents.

ProCredit Bank: Being a Responsible Corporate Citizen
ProCredit Bank believes it is important to contribute to the preservation and protection of the environment. The Bank has thus organized two eco events supporting the Lagodekhi National Park, cleaning up the area and planting olive trees. ProCredit Bank plans to maintain an on-going partnership with the Park, organizing further clean-up and environmental maintenance campaigns.
Another notable feature of the Bank's CSR initiatives is its investment in a "transparent and low-risk profile." ProCredit aims to become the trustworthy "neighborhood bank for small businesses and ordinary people".
This aspect of corporate responsibility is especially timely in the wake of the ongoing financial crisis and has allowed the ProCredit group to boast a "remarkably stable" 2010 performance world-wide.

TBC Bank supports community development. For more photos of projects, click here.

TBC: Building Community Support Traditions
TBC Bank has been diligent in choosing long-term and goal-oriented community support projects. TBC's traditional areas of work include literature, arts, and culture, with exclusive events at the TBC Art Gallery, the annual literary award Saba and several publications made possible through the Bank's support.
Restoration of historic and religious sites is another on-going project.The Poka Monastery, Poti Cathedral and the Bagrationi Historical Stables are among the architectural monuments renovated and maintained by TBC. The work done through TBC Fund for Victims has been most urgent following the 2008 war and the accompanying humanitarian crisis. The Bank's patronage of the internally displaced (IDP) communities included such services as health care, education, infrastructure development, and sports and vocational training.

Wissol: Working for the New Generations
Wissol CSR projects are particularly comprehensive in addressing long-term needs in society. Their youth-support programs aim to aid the development of future generations and include the support of the Iavnana Fund, the youth center Art Hall, and the #10 public school for special needs children.
Wissol is also adamant about supporting healthy lifestyles for the youth. To this end, the company has constructed several state-of-art sports complexes, purchased the rugby club Wissol Kochebi, and founded the soccer club Wissol Avaza. Another step toward promoting healthier choices is the new bio produce corner at Wissol's supermarket chain Smart. The Bio Corner offers products that are not genetically modified or treated with artificial colorings.

WHERE BUSINESS AND SOCIAL NEEDS MEET

Around the world, businesses big and small have found ways to work with non-government organizations, medical centers and charities to their mutual benefit.

Similar needs exist in Georgia, where organizations working towards solving core medical, psychological and socio-economic issues often lack support. For instance, the Institute of Neurology and Neuropsychology (INN) in Georgia has advance expertise on epilepsy diagnosis, but lacks the financial and social clout to advance the cause.

The team in Tbilisi, together with the Epilepsy Institute in the Netherlands, has developed a sophisticated tool box of diagnosis, treatment and therapy to treat Georgians suffering from epilepsy. According to Sofia Kasradze, the Director of the INN, "approximately 21% of the patients do not even have epilepsy and are wrongly diagnosed, but they still receive the state-provided insurance and support for this disease… This could add up to GEL 1 million in annual savings for the state."

For more information on epilepsy, INN is hosting a symposium together with the Epilepsy Institute in the Netherlands (SEIN) on October 26-27 in Tbilisi, where Sport and Epilepsy projects are part of the agenda.