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Business With a Cause

November 07, 2014
Business With a Cause

Businesses invest in social change: the conference organised by BBLF, For Our Children Foundation and the Municipality of Plovdiv outlined prime examples and success stories 

Business is a major force for positive change in social good and partnerships with public institutions and civic organisations is the road to solving a number of major social issues, was the conclusion reached at Business Doing Good: From Corporate Philanthropy to Investment in Community conference that took place on 7 November in Plovdiv.

The event organised by BBLF in cooperation with For Our Children Foundation and the Municipality of Plovdiv was designed to outline new trends in CSR, successful and innovative business practices, and models of effective cooperation of companies, public institutions and NGOs. Over 70 guests: senior managers of Bulgarian and international companies, officials from central and local authorities, social experts, the media attended the conference.

The event provided a platform where leaders from the public and private sectors discussed challenges, current policies and innovative approaches to investing in social good. In adidition, the conference encouraged companies’ good practices harnessed in favour of initiatives for the good of society as well as new efficient patterns of cooperation with NGOs and the local authorities.

„It is no coincidence we are in Plovdiv today. The city is not only a culture hub but has an extensive record in business and NGO development”, Maxim Behar, BBLF Board Member who moderated the two panel discussions stated upon the start of the conference. He urged the media to be more active in spreading the news about social good projects: “What’s better than people, clients, event competitors getting informed about success stories and following suit”. Guests were also greeted by Petar Zehtinski, Deputy Mayor of Plovdiv.

Deyana Kostadinova, Secretary for Social Policies, Youth and Sports of the President, read a message from President Rosen Plevneliev. In her words, the conference is a good example of the transformation from individual gestures of support to investing in social good: “A successful and sustainable business model cannot exist in isolation from social developments”. The answer to the question of how business can help social projects has a lot to do with current social priorities: “The institutions we know from the past are not only costly but leave a negative mark on children and their social behavior, they are dooming them. We are now fully aware that only a policy of consecutive, efficient social inclusion can provide us with quality human capital that we need for both economic growth and social well-being. We are all responsible for moving from corporate philanthropy to investment in society”, Kostadinova stated.

„The Municipality of Plovdiv aims at continuing the successful partnership with the public sector: 11 out of the total of 44 social services we currently offer are implemented by various private providers. In most cases our cooperation with them is very good and useful for the community. We are glad that For Our Children foundation has been our trusted and worthy partner for many years whenever the well being of children is concerned”, said Georgi Tityukov, Plovdiv Central Region Mayor.

Ivanka Shalapatova, For Our Children Foundation’s Executive Director, said in her turn: “We are happy to have attracted the attention of many people from various sectors focusing on the well-being of the children of Bulgaria. We committed to keep on supporting each other so that no child is placed in social care. It was a great honour for me to know that our mission is backed by so many partners who are aware that the nation’s future lies in investing in early age when children need to live secure in a family rather than isolated in institutions. Practical examples show that the support of babies and their families in early childhood can save a lot of resources to the state and the community in the years to come”.

The discussions were also joined by Teodora Lyubenova, State Expert in Social Inclusion Directorate of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, and Nadya Shabani, Programme Director of the Bulgarian Centre for Non-Profit Law who stressed that it is our responsibility to change the world for the better and we need to do our best to make it happen.

Businesses that actually are investing in social good were also represented at the conference by guest speakers Valeri Mektupchiyan, Speedy General Manager, Christophe De Lafarge, Schneider Electric General Manager for Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Stoyan Stoyanov, Kargill Bulgaria General Manager and Zvezdalina Yaneva, Lloyds’ Register Bulgaria Manager. They shared their good practices, the challenges they are facing and their efficient projects carried out in partnership wih civic organisaitons.

The participants agreed on the need of a new approach towards solving social issues, i.e. marrying the efforts of government, NGOs and the private sector.

The Business Doing Good: From Corporate Philanthropy to Investment in Community conference was held with the media support of Bulgaria on Air Media Group, Radio Plovdiv, Darik Radio Plovdiv, Darik News, Pod tepeto, Top news Plovdiv.

For some more pictures of the event please check out the photo gallery below.