Local CSR market, though uneven, moves towards focus and sustainability

Newsroom 03/04/2015 | 17:03

While it is far from a mature market, the Romanian CSR scene has made big steps towards achieving this goal. Both companies and NGOs are involved in long-term programs that aim to meet the real needs of local communities or society as whole.

Anda Sebesi

The Romanian business community seems to have acknowledged and gradually accepted the need to include social and environmental matters within its business development strategies and operations. Leading companies are investing in building stakeholder trust and simultaneously improving their business performance, say pundits. They are responding to a new set of societal values based around the evolving role of companies in society.

Romanian companies display varied approaches and different levels of maturity related to CSR, observe insiders. “There are companies that have little or no involvement in this area; others are at the beginning of their journey, while an increasing number of companies have a strong CSR culture and well-developed practices. This conclusion is applicable for the entire Romanian business environment, which is heterogeneous on CSR matters, as many companies are still uncertain about the benefits of building a sustainable business,” says Geta Diaconu, sustainability advisory director at KPMG.

According to Mona Nicolici, sustainability manager at OMV Petrom, CSR has evolved from random community spending to a sustainable business contribution and has moved from social spending to a holistic approach incorporating ethics, stakeholder dialogue and responsible operations into common business practice. “All these changes are determined by the maturity of the market and increased demand from both investors and the European decision-makers as they became more and more aware of the importance of CSR. Tangible proof is that from 2017 non-financial reporting will be mandatory for all companies with over 500 employees,” she says.

In addition to large Romanian companies and multinationals that develop and implement CSR projects on a large scale, SMEs seem to be seeing the benefits of such projects and have started lately to invest in smaller community initiatives. “Although they don’t run projects with national coverage, they help and change the life of the community they are part of,” says Angela Galeta, manager of the Vodafone Romania Foundation. She adds that health and volunteering are some of the fields that can absorb funds.

Although more and more companies are investing in CSR projects, the local market is far from mature. “Unfortunately 90 percent of the managers in Romania who have heard of CSR see it as sponsorships or charity rather than the sustainable management system of organizational activities. But the good news is that the other 10 percent have started to rank alongside any other European organizations,” says Dragos Tuta, founder and managing partner at The CSR Agency. At present, more training and education is needed in order for companies’ top management to understand how important CSR is on the long term. “Sustainable development means long-term actions and the way that a company chooses to be part of the community it is active in. If it aims just for profit then there is no need for CSR but charity only. But if it wants both an economic increase and the evolution of the communities and stakeholders then we’re talking about sustainability,” adds Tuta.

Carmen Soare, marketing manager at ING Asigurari de Viata and ING Pensii, says that the message society has delivered has generated a change in companies’ strategies. Social responsibility and sustainability have often become primary pillars used by companies to build their long-term development plans. “From the perspective of CSR strategies, projects are targeting mainly social issues instead of supporting specific social cases – a transition from charity to social change,” says Soare.

Today there are more involving activities that have a significant impact on society, meet the needs of the community and offer sustainable solutions. “CSR projects facilitate community empowerment,” says Veronica Dogaru, corporate communications manager at Orange Romania. She adds that as more people understand what social responsibility is and how a company should behave in the community the demand for such programs will increase proportionally.

Communities count
Generally, companies’ primary CSR focus is investing in the communities where they operate, especially promoting volunteering, pro-bono services and providing financial support in areas like education and social support for disadvantaged groups, healthcare, environmental protection, sports and culture. Even though companies are more and more involved in CSR actions, not many of them make these initiatives public in an organized way, as reporting non-financial information is not yet a regulatory requirement in Romania.

“Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines are the most commonly used sustainability reporting guidelines throughout the world and are recognized as a best practice barometer in this area. At the end of 2014 the number of companies operating in Romania reporting on CSR according to GRI was around 10. This demonstrates that the CSR market and the way firms report on this subject are still in the ‘early development’ phase,” says Diaconu of KPMG.

If for local subsidiaries of multinational companies CSR behavior seems to be highly influenced by group culture, practices, and the future outlook on this topic, including perspectives for the stronger integration of CSR into the business strategy, the situation is different for state-owned companies. “The latter, especially those that are listed on the stock exchange, are starting to become aware of the importance of CSR and are beginning their journey towards placing CSR at the core of their business strategy. However, these companies do not have the benefit of international experience, knowledge and guidance, which are the advantages of being part of a powerful group. Consequently, it is expected that these companies will face more challenges,” says the KPMG representative.

Tuta of The CSR Agency says that many companies still don’t think of long-term projects while NGOs don’t yet have the full capacity to work jointly with organizations. “Sometimes the CSR coordinator is still part of the PR or marketing department instead of reporting directly to the CEO and supervising the CSR activity. In addition there is a need for a greater inclination towards understanding CSR as social responsibility and not as charity,” adds Tuta.

Sponsorship law could come under pressure
The New Fiscal Code brings a significant change to the sponsorship law that could represent a major turnaround for both companies and civil society. It proposes the replacement of fiscal credit for allotted sponsorships (through which companies can redirect 20 percent of their tax on profit towards NGOs) with the deduction of sponsorships from the taxable base and its limitation to EUR 200,000. “The official draft of the new Fiscal Code, as published by the Ministry of Finance, does not include any changes to the current fiscal treatment of sponsorship expenses. During the technical discussions that took place between officials and business representatives, the need for a reform of the sponsorship law was recognized, so as to modernize some out-of-date definitions and to extend the scope of sponsorship activities that can benefit from tax incentives. However, such an initiative would be a separate exercise, which needs to be proposed and supported by the lawmaking authorities,” says Madalina Racovitan, tax partner at KPMG.

Such drafts often go through many changes by the time they become law. It is important for the legislator to listen to all the stakeholders in order to have a better, modern, predictable and easy to implement fiscal code, say players. “It seems to me that the EUR 200,000 limitation is both a restrictive measure and an unsustainable limit considering that a company like Petrom for example can direct much more through the 20 percent of its tax on profit to an NGO. I hope it will not remain in this form because it would destroy many NGOs and wouldn’t encourage companies to undertake sponsorships. Many projects would end,” warns Tuta.

Keeping an eye on non-financial reporting
Raiffeisen Bank and the Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE) announced recently that they would start the consulting process for the transposing of EU Directive 95/2014 on non-financial reporting by companies. The document obliges EU members to adopt new rules through which companies will report issues such as maintaining environment standards, human rights, lapses of integrity and anti-corruption practices. The first non-financial reports will be issued by companies from January 1 2016 and at the latest in 2017. In addition a working group will be formed where public authorities, business representatives and members of civil society will be invited to participate so the previsions of the EU Directive benefit from the expertise of all interested parties.

Box 1: Sustainability reporting across Europe and the USA

–  UK: Quoted companies are required to produce a strategic report which includes information on annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, diversity and human rights under the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic and Directors’ Reports) Regulations 2013.

–  EU: The EU has recently introduced new reporting requirements for large companies and listed companies operating in the extractive industries under the EU Transparency Directive. Specifically, the Directive requires companies to report the payments they make to governments in relation to their extraction activities.

– EU: The EC Directive on Disclosure of Non-Financial and Diversity Information (2013) aims to increase EU companies’ transparency and performance on environmental and social matters. These will require the disclosure of material environmental, social and employee-related matters, including human rights and anti-bribery and corruption. This will impact certain large and public-interest companies (approximately 6,000 companies in the EU).

– France: Under Article 225 of French Law Grenelle II (July 2010), listed companies on the French stock exchanges are required to publish a range of social, environmental and governance information listed in the decree and have this data verified by an independent third party.

– USA: In 2010, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued Interpretive Guidance on Disclosure Related to Business or Legal Developments Regarding Climate Change. This provides guidance on disclosure rules that may require a company to disclose the impact that business or legal developments related to climate change may have on its business.

– Sweden: Companies administered (i.e. wholly or partly owned) by the Swedish government have been required to present a GRI-compliant sustainability report annually since 2009.

– Denmark: In 2008, Denmark introduced regulation requiring all large businesses to report on their CSR activities i.e. existence and implementation of policies, evaluation of the impact of initiatives and future initiatives. Two topics – human rights and climate change – must be included in reporting regardless of whether they are included in disclosed policies.

– Norway: Since 1998, Norwegian-registered companies have been required to disclose their environmental impact and mitigation activities. Since April 2013, all large companies are required to report on how they integrate sustainability into their business strategies. Companies that issue reports that comply with UN Global Compact or GRI standards are exempt from this requirement.

Source: Sustainability Reporting Tips 2014-2015, PricewaterhouseCoopers 

Putting Romania on the Global Compact map
The CSR Agency announced recently that the Global Compact Romania network (UNGC) would be launched at the end of April. The local network will put into practice the global principles of the United Nations Organization (ONU) for setting an agenda of corporate sustainability. “I invite all the managers of organizations that want a responsible and flourishing economic environment in Romania. We will become partners in order to ensure long-term profit for each organization and to ensure the prosperity of the stakeholders we interact with,” says Tuta of The CSR Agency, host of the Global Compact local network. “The majority of multinationals that have branches in Romania and are now powering the local economic engine are already signatories of the ten Global Compact principles. We also hope to see more Romanian entrepreneurs that want to contribute to the sustainability of the economy ‘from home’.”At present 18 organizations from Romania are signatories to the ten Global Compact principles, both companies and NGOs. OMV Petrom, Raiffeisen Bank Romania, Coca-Cola Hellenic Romania, KMG International, Damen Shipyards Galati, Baneasa Developments, Continental Romania, The CSR Agency, MaiMultVerde and the Civil Society Gala Foundation have all announced their support for the launch of the local network.

Local CSR market professionalizes
Both companies and NGOs are doing their best to build a mature market that will be capable of facing new professional challenges in the future. In recent years more and more NGOs and companies have started to offer their services to members of the civil society. For example, last year Creionetica, a multimedia agency dedicated to social causes, launched a series of events called “Serile ONG” debating issues about communication for NGOs. In addition, the agency partnered last year with TechSoup and organized a workshop entitled “Alternative Communication for NGOs” and a free webinar about the 2 percent campaign for NGOs – unconventional communication methods.

TechSoup is another NGO that was very active last year in organizing events for NGOs. In partnership with various large IT companies it organized free webinars on various themes such as: how to create a website on a WordPress platform (with the Good Afternoon agency), mobile applications (Simplon Romania and Microsoft), financial education (ING Bank Romania), analyzing, reporting and databases for NGOs (SAP), online security for NGOs (Bitdefender), Office 365 (Microsoft), efficient use of Google Ad Words (Zitec) and image banks (with Dreamstime).

The most recent example is the project launched at the beginning of this year by Bridging The Gap (BTG), an organization created in 2013 to help NGOs obtain resources for their needs. The Bridging the Gap NGO Academy was created in order to provide high-quality training workshops for the Romanian NGO community. The academy will share the skills of expert professionals with organizations who would not normally have access to professional training. The project was initiated by BTG, the British Embassy in Romania, CMS and eLiberare Design. “Our vision is to create a Romania where the needs of charitable organizations that have an impact on society are satisfied by the community they are part of. One of the ways we can do this is to share our skills and experience with NGOs that don’t have access or the necessary financial resources to participate in professional training. We don’t think these organizations should be left behind because of financial obstacles or lack of personnel,” say the BTG representatives.

In the corporate area, The CSR Agency and Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) this month held a specialized training session called Certified CSR Practitioner (CSR-P). It was aimed at CSR officials who want to learn and build a successful CSR strategy and obtain international practitioner certification.

What companies did last year

Avon Cosmetics Romania
Avon’s stated global mission is to become a devoted activist for the health and well-being of women through its charitable efforts to eradicate breast cancer and domestic violence. One of company’s projects is Campania pentru Sanatatea Sanilor through which Avon made two donations of medical equipment last year, worth USD 110,000, to Targu Jiu and Brasov hospitals. In addition, in partnership with the MAME Foundation the company initiated the Planeta Roz project, investing USD 20,000 in the implementation of a call center for patients with cancer. “Last year Avon also supported the beneficiaries of Hospice Casa Sperantei Bucharest and Brasov (with a donation of USD 30,000), Amazonia Association (with USD 4,000 for the Navigator Patient Program) and the Regina Maria Foundation Social Polyclinic,” says Alexandra Maier, CSR specialist at Avon Romania.

Elsewhere, through Campania Respectului, an initiative to combat domestic violence against women, Avon made a USD 45,000 donation to the “1,000 de paturi” program (with the purpose of supplementing beds in Romanian refuges) and USD 12,000 to an educational program for young people aiming to prevent violence in teenage couples, called Licee Albastre. The company also supported the Friends for Friends Foundation, putting up USD 20,000 for three awards to teams of journalists who investigated domestic violence in Romania and also supported the Super Writing Awards. “We also wanted to come closer to Romanian women last year by launching the first Avon crowdfunding platform worldwide, www.doneazacuavon.ro. It finances cases proposed by Romanian NGOs that need support to combat breast cancer or domestic violence,” says Maier.

According to Raluca Kisescu, senior manager of commercial marketing at Avon Romania & Moldova, in 13 years of social campaigns dedicated to Romanian women, Avon Cosmetics has invested USD 2.8 million in projects dedicated to fighting breast cancer and domestic violence.

BRD-Groupe Societe Generale
In March last year, Junior Achievement Romania and BRD-Groupe Societe Generale launched the second run of the school volunteering program, Educatia iti da valoare!. The project aimed to prevent school dropout nationwide and to develop the professional skills of students from grades seven to ten. They participated in interactive educational activities led by volunteer consultants from BRD to prepare them for the future challenges in their education and careers. “We told students that they needed to leverage their time in school to the maximum in order to gain knowledge, discover their vocations and interest fields and prepare for their future career,” said Flavia Popa, secretary general of BRD-Groupe Societe Generale. The 2014 program aimed to involve at least 5,000 students who were taught about the importance of continuing their studies and the economic value of long-term education. The volunteering consultants explained to them the benefits of a well-done job as a professional attitude and how they should approach their education in order to be prepared for the future. During the 2012-2013 school year, 128 BRD consultants contributed to and supported the active education initiative for more than 2,800 students from 93 educational institutions.

Danone Dairy Romania
The community involvement strategy of Danone in Romania follows a basic principle for the company’s business: responsibility to society and the consumer. Education to support a healthy diet, sports participation and healthy lifestyle and sustainable agriculture by supporting farmers are the firm’s main strategic fields. For example “O sansa pentru familia ta” is a program initiated by Danone with the Heifer foundation, through which the company provides low-income rural families with a high-breed cow under the condition that its first-born calf is donated to another such family. Launched in 2012, it has had over 500 direct beneficiaries and about 7,000 indirect ones. “The program also includes an educational component: small farmers are trained how to care for, feed and milk cows so the milk is in line with European Union quality standards,” says Luiza Toma, PR brand & internal communication manager at Danone Dairy Romania. Over EUR 2 million has been invested in the program so far and 214 high-breed cows have been given to householders in three rural communities: Zimnicea, Cocorastii Colt and Belin. “In Zimnicea the project was extended, generating a sustainable model for the production of European quality milk intended to support the future development of the community. In addition householders got and jointly used high-performing equipment that ensures the quality of the milk,” says Toma.

Cupa Hagi Danone, another project supported by the company, is the biggest football competition for Romanian 10- and 12-year-olds. “The goal is to encourage kids to adopt a healthy lifestyle through sports and a balanced diet and also to help them to fulfill their dream of becoming talented footballers,” adds Toma. Constanta, Craiova, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Piatra-Neamt, Alba-Iulia, Ploiesti and Bucharest hosted the regional phases of the competition last year. Danone Romania has invested over RON 7 million in this competition so far. “In addition to these projects we make donations to many child protection organizations and residential homes as well as other projects, worth more than RON 1 million annually,” concludes Toma.

Enel Romania
2014 brought the continuation of Enel’s traditional CSR projects and the start of new projects with an impact on society. In the charitable field, Enel Cuore and Enel Romania financed the first day center for children with Dravet’s syndrome and other rare epilepsies. Called “There is Hope”, it is the first unit in Romania for preschoolers with epilepsy. Enel also supported the Christmas Tree Festival through a major donation to educational programs by the Save the Children Foundation, which reach 2,500 children in disadvantaged local communities. Moreover, the firm supported the Unicef Gala organized on the occasion of the International Day of Children’s Rights to help fund projects for children from disadvantaged families around the country.

Regarding investment in the community, Colibasi village, in Giurgiu County, joined the Romanian towns and villages that exclusively use energy-saving light bulbs. “In the four years since the start of this project, which aims to promote energy efficiency, the number of households using only energy-saving light bulbs reached about 5,200,” says Radu Cosarca, communications director at Enel Romania. The 2014 program reached an estimated 3,000 beneficiaries in 1,300 households, who, by using energy-saving light bulbs, could save about RON 100,000 annually.

Among the 2014 projects with a social impact, Enel supported the Stradivarius Tour, whose revenues are also donated to a charitable foundation, and the “City of Energy” project aimed at transforming cities. “In the four years since the launch of City of Energy, over 20 Enel substations in Bucharest, Constanta and Timisoara became canvases for urban art, transformed from simple gray buildings into true urban paintings that make their surroundings more beautiful, but at the same time tell their story, helping to promote culture and urban art,” adds Cosarca.

The 2014 program ended with the painting of six substations in Bucharest, Constanta and Timisoara, whose themes were tennis, Romanian aviation, the young, castles in Romania (Bucharest), Navy Day (Constanta) and 130 years since the inauguration of electric street lighting in Timisoara. “Moreover, our company supported the Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation’s 2014 ‘Young Talents’ program, which supports and promotes talented young artists from low-income families who cannot afford to cultivate their talent. The global education competition Play Energy also continued in 2014,” adds the Enel representative.

The theme of Play Energy 2014 was “A journey into the world of energy.” Teachers received educational kits to explore with their students topics concerning the current energy system, to learn more about technology, science and the history of the energy sector. In 2014 the project involved around 800 schools in Romania and 9,000 students, with 420 projects submitted for the competition.

In the sports field, Enel staged an exhibition game within last year’s BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest. The exhibition match has become a tradition at the tournament and each year attracts around 4,500 spectators, of a total of 35,000 for the entire tournament in the capital.

In the environmental sector, last year Enel organized an event in partnership with the MaiMult Verde Association as part of the Mega Tree project. With the help of the association’s volunteers and Enel employees, 8,000 trees were planted in 2014 to make a total of 13,000 in the three years of the program. “Mega Tree is a project that was born in November 2012, when the company, in partnership with MaiMultVerde, committed to plant a tree for every 10 MWh of green energy consumed by its customers,” says Cosarca. According to him, through both directly developed projects and the Enel Cuore Foundation, the firm has so far invested over EUR 3 million in local educational projects, charity, culture, sports, protection of the disadvantaged and the renovation of hospitals.

Heineken Romania
By 2014, Heineken Romania had invested over RON 1.3 million in local communities through the four Heineken pentru Comunitati programs developed in partnership with the CSR Nest Association. The initiative is intended to support and develop local communities in the four cities where Heineken has breweries (Constanta, Craiova, Miercurea Ciuc and Targu Mures) and aims to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. In the first three programs, the company invested over RON 1 million in 20 local community projects that had over 287,000 beneficiaries and involved more than 800 volunteers. “I strongly believe that we have the mission to support the communities where we operate, by responding actively to their needs. To build a sustainable business means to give something back to the community that hosts you and allows you to develop,” says Onno Rombouts, managing director at Heineken Romania.

The brewer also focuses on supporting occupational high schools through one of its brands, Bucegi, investing about RON 300,000 in three high schools that educate workers and trades people last year. The sum was used to equip practical laboratories. A competition called Meserii pentru Romania was launched by the Bucegi brand in partnership with Junior Achievement. A hundred and one post high schools and training colleges specialized in fields such as retail, food industry, soldering, telecommunications, forestry and fashion design entered the competition last year. “In 2014 we took the first step in the ‘Meserii pentru Romania’ program. For starters, the campaign addressed post high schools because we were led there by the ‘Meserii pentru Romania’ study commissioned by Bucegi. We saw that more than half of the young people were interested in ‘blue collar’ jobs and I think that school is the best place to learn such an occupation. However, these occupations don’t get their due respect. Through this program we wanted to help schools to better educate future workers and help Romanians to regain respect in their occupations and be aware of their value,” says Narcis Horhoianu, marketing director at Heineken Romania.

Last but not least the Ciuc brand and the Alliance Against Alcoholism and Addiction (ALIAT) continued last year to promote the responsible consumption of alcohol among participants in festivals, launching the second Harm Reduction program at Padina Fest 2014. “Through the Harm Reduction program Ciuc and ALIAT intend to show people that they can enjoy more of their preferred music, a festival or a party if they choose to consume responsible. We want to underline the importance of keeping control and moderate consumption as a habit,” said Andrea Veress, group brand manager of global and premium brands at Heineken Romania, last year.

ING Asigurari de Viata
ING Asigurari de Viata focuses its CSR strategy on three significant pillars: education, life chances and environmental protection. The company invests in financial education programs and supports access to education for children from disadvantaged families and communities. ING Asigurari de Viata has rolled out campaigns and developed tools to help people understand the goal and benefits of life insurance or private pensions and the products’ relation to their own financial future. “Through programs that facilitate access to education we aim on the long term to improve the employment prospects of future generations. This helps ensure the continuity of contributions to public systems,” says Carmen Soare, marketing manager at ING Asigurari de Viata and ING Pensii.

In the life insurance industry life expectation is a constant focus. This was why the insurer included life chances in its CSR strategy. “We always get involved in projects that aim to increase life chances or save lives,” adds Soare. She notes that Sansa la viata was the main part of the company’s CSR actions last year. Lectia de prim ajutor (launched with SMURD and the MaiMult Verde Association three years ago), Alearga pentru copiii bolnavi de inima alaturi de Paul Dicu (with Inima Copiilor Association) and Planeta Roz – Suport si consiliere pentru sanatatea sanului (initiated by the MAME Association), projects also developed in 2014, are part of this pillar.

As for environmental projects, ING Asigurari de Viata continued Biciclete cu cravate and Paperless last year. “Through Paperless we want to give our customers easier access to information and allow them to contribute with us to a reduction in paper use. A hundred ING Asigurari de Viata employees and volunteers from MaiMultVerde planted 5,000 oak seeds in Comana Natural Park,” adds Soare. Since 2009 the company has invested about EUR 1 million in CSR projects.

KFC Romania

KFC Romania started its collaboration with SOS Satele Copiilor last year when the company financially supported the educational activities of children from a house it sponsored. This year the company came up with the “Bucket de bine” campaign through which it will pay the annual costs of a family from SOS Satele Copiilor Bucuresti. Between March 1 and December 31 RON 1 from the price of each “Bucket de bine” bought by customers will go the sponsored family, formed of five children between 7 and 11 who are cared for by a foster parent. “This year we decided to get involved totally, ‘adopting’ a family for Satul SOS Bucuresti. We want them to benefit from the best conditions in order to develop harmoniously. We gave Buketul de bine double value: meeting children’s needs and giving our customers honest advice from a child who is probably too wise for his or her age,” says Monica Eftimie, chief marketing officer at KFC.

KMG International
Last year KMG International (formerly Rompetrol Group) launched its sixth national CSR program Impreuna pentru fiecare to develop local communities. As in previous years, the company financed several types of project: those enhancing medical services units and the environment (up to RON 45,000); innovative projects (up to RON 100,000) and health and environmental education (up to RON 15,000). Following the evaluation process 14 community projects from Romania and the Republic of Moldova were selected and benefited from a total USD 225,000. The program was launched for the first time in the Republic of Moldova last year with an environmental project in Vorniceni. “Beyond the impressive figures – 300,000 beneficiaries, over 2,500 volunteers and USD 1.5 million of direct investment – we are glad that the number and quality of the projects increases from one year to the next. In addition, members of the community have managed to positively change society through partnerships with local players and the company,” says Azamat Zhangulov, senior vice-president of KMG International. The national program Impreuna pentru Fiecare was launched in 2009 as part of the CSR platform Energia vine din suflet. Over 2009-2013, 1,433 projects entered the competition and the company invested USD 1.5 million in the implementation of 101 community initiatives in all regions of Romania. Since 2009 group investments in CSR projects and programs have exceeded USD 8 million.

OMV Petrom
Mona Nicolici, sustainability manager at OMV Petrom, says that the company’s major focus last year was engaging with the partners and stakeholders who contributed to its success, sharing experiences, discussing lessons learned and designing future plans. The company recognized about 200 stakeholders for their exceptional contribution to the development of communities at ten galas organized in its focus operational areas, attended by over 1,400 people.

“Our main goal in 2014, as part of our sustainability strategy, was to give people the skills they need to develop as involved and responsible citizens and, most important, to be competitive on the job market,” says Nicolici. According to her, over 58,000 people attended various educational initiatives, out of whom over 400 were granted official qualifications or scholarships.

Andrei’s Country (taraluiandrei.ro) continued to be the main platform for OMV Petrom’s community development efforts. “We focused on developing the entrepreneurial skills of pupils, students and adults and giving them both the know-how and the financial support to implement solutions to bring not only economic, but also social added-value to local communities,” she says. Within the program ten ideas were transformed into operational social businesses through extensive capacity building and non-refundable start-up grants of EUR 350,000. By the end of 2014, the ten winning entrepreneurs and NGOs had created 35 job opportunities and supply chains that generated income for over 130 people. “In terms of social impact, what is even more meaningful is that some of their earnings go on addressing specific social local issues,” says the OMV Petrom representative. The company also continued to encourage sustainable ideas, giving 32 community projects over EUR 250,000 (through the Ideas from Andrei’s Country and Andrei’s School competitions).

“In our operational communities we developed and supported nine local NGOs that work as a dialogue platform for local authorities, company representatives and community members with the major goal of identifying solutions for local development,” says Nicolici.

Volunteerism also helped strengthen the organizational culture in terms of responsible business behavior and maximizing social impact through the direct involvement of the firm’s employees. In 2014 the company’s programs attracted about 3,000 volunteers, out of whom about half were employees. Since 2007, OMV Petrom has allocated over EUR 40 million to social responsibility initiatives.

Orange Romania
Last year was one of the most active for Orange Romania for community projects. The company developed projects under the four pillars of its CSR strategy: community involvement, digital inclusion, environmental protection and children’s online safety. “We are involved in the community by boosting civic spirit through volunteering. We are committed to offering our stakeholders digital educational programs to get them used to new technological trends in society. We also encourage both employees and customers to be aware of and measure their impact on the environment. Last but not least we offer children the tools for a better, safer and healthier digital environment according to their needs,” says Veronica Dogaru, corporate communications manager at Orange Romania.

The company develops projects for students of various ages, and recently launched “#parintilascoala”, a digital education program for parents. Last year it launched SuperCoder programming workshops for 40 kids aged 10-13, mostly from disadvantaged families. It also continued its digital accessibility program with sessions for high school students as part of the 4G Discovery Tour Caravan. Participants could test new technology in a specially equipped vehicle and see how mobile telephony has evolved.

“In addition to the digital education that we give high school students we also have career orientation programs for them, from mentoring in our company to explaining their career path if they go to a technical or humanistic faculty. Fifty students from three high schools in Bucharest were involved in Junior Orange First Step last year,” says Dogaru. She adds that the majority of the projects that the company runs for university students focus on professional integration. “We awarded 15 scholarships last year and 26 students graduated from the Orange Educational Program,” adds the Orange representative.

Last year the biggest volunteering campaign was “Saptamana Voluntariatului”, a global Orange group initiative that runs each year in Romania too. In 2014 its focus was on two areas: the digitalization of books for the general public and visually-impaired people and the recycling of mobile phones. “With Octavian Goga County Library in Cluj and the National Library of Romania we digitalized over 11,900 pages, scanning rare documents that are now available on the two libraries’ websites and making audio recordings of the materials so they are available to visually-impaired people too,” says Dogaru. She adds that with the help of volunteers the company managed to collect about 1,200 mobile phones through the national network of Orange shops, which have been recycled.

Raiffeisen Bank
Last year, Raiffeisen Bank channeled EUR 100,000 to 15 projects (11 NGOs, three educational institutions and one hospital) through its financing program Raiffeisen Comunitati. The projects covered social services, health, education and urban ecology. The program was developed exclusively on the www.raiffeisencomunitati.ro platform. The lender also has other CSR projects that cover fields such as financial education and culture. For example, with Junior Achievement it developed two educational programs: Noi insine for zero or first graders and Familia mea for first and second graders. Within each program pupils get a free school book called The Junior Journal, a teacher’s guide, volunteer consultant and additional materials. Each school book has five lessons that cover themes such as cash management, the importance of saving money, how to make intelligent decisions on a budget and teamwork. During the 2014-2015 school year the two partners developed a third program for primary schools, Comunitatea mea, for students in the second and third grades, while by 2016 they will launch the Orasul meu program for the fourth grade.

Last but not least, in 2014 Tasuleasa Social in partnership with Raiffeisen Bank launched “Via Maria Theresia”, a project that combines culture and history components with social, sports and environmental ones. The project aimed to rehabilitate 42 km of the historical road from the Calimani mountains.

Vodafone Romania Foundation
One of the main projects supported by Vodafone Romania Foundation last year was Mobile for Good, a program that uses mobile technologies to improve lives. “Mobile for Good reached ten projects last year. Its beneficiaries are diabetics, elderly people assisted at home, mentally challenged athletes, children in the intensive care unit of the Marie Curie Hospital, patients with spinal injuries and terminally ill people,” says Angela Galeta, manager of the Vodafone Romania Foundation. In 2013 and 2014 the number of beneficiaries of Mobile for Good projects increased on its 2012 launch, and seven new projects were included. “In 2013-2104 the investment made by Vodafone Romania Foundation through Mobile for Good program was EUR 1 million. In total, the number of beneficiaries is about 10,000 while the total investment in this project is EUR 1.5 million,” adds Galeta.

The foundation continued its partnership with Salvamont last year with an investment of EUR 128,000 in the activity of the Salvamont control room and cutting the rescue teams’ response time. As part of the “Parteneriat pentru Viata” program, the foundation has supported SMURD since 2005, providing communication services and sponsorships worth EUR 1.5 million in total.

In addition to all these programs, the foundation periodically organizes financing calls in education and health, with Mobile for Good being the most recent, receiving EUR 500,000.“Fondul pentru Fapte Bune” is another such example, awarded EUR 440,000 to help various beneficiaries. In its 17 years of activity, the Vodafone Romania Foundation has financed over 848 programs in fields such as health, education, and social services for beneficiaries including children, young adults and the elderly, and physically, socially and economically disadvantaged citizens. The foundation has invested EUR 20 million in projects run by its NGO partners for over 600,000 beneficiaries.

Note: The companies and CSR projects/programs included in this article represent only a selection. The article is not a comprehensive report on the Romanian CSR market.










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