Minsk hosted the finals of the social projects contest Social Weekend. What language should we use when talking business and what corporate social responsibility in Belarus is?
Social Weekend has been facilitating communication between businessmen and inventors eager to improve the world around us for several years. This is a platform where anyone can present their idea, get financial assistance for its realization, go through training and find like-minded people.
The contest is held since 2013 twice a year, and it has now been held for the eighth time. For the first time the representatives of the ministries - economy and education – became a part of the jury as well.
16 projects out of 160 applications competed in the final round of the contest. The projects ranged from an online store to sell products from grandmothers’ vegetable gardens to an "ideal city". As the jury members noted, the success of any initiative depends not only on the project itself, but also on the enthusiasm of its authors and the desire to work.
The difference between social projects and business is that the goal of the latter is to return the money, and the aim of the first is to achieve a social effect.
"EuroBelarus" Information Service asked the jury and the organizers of the contest why it is important for entrepreneurs to help civic initiatives and how the Belarusian business has increased its social activity in recent years.
"Social support is important for business because people grow up over time and they want to help the society, to do something useful" – said Aliaksei Shchurko, the CEO and founder of Gurtam.
Daniel Krutzinna, managing Partner of Civitta, remarks:
“The new tendency that I see is a movement from the bottom to the top, a local initiative of the people who are in need of something. Social Weekend takes much credit for creating a platform for them to be heard”.
Aliaksandr Skrabouski, the head of Social Weekend and a businessman, did not expect his project to become long-term back when he started it three years ago.
"Three years ago, there were only a few companies in Belarus with a document on corporate social responsibility, and it was re-read from time to time when someone needed help, - shared Aliaksandr. - Now there are dozens of such companies. "
The head of SW notes that the companies no longer support all initiatives that come their way but specialize in specific areas.
"Because the requests we received were "give us money, and we will realize our idea." But throughout the whole contest we teach people that you get the money after you prove you can make a project without it. And this is the language business understands", - said Aliaksandr Skrabouski.
Businessman Aliaksandr Knyrovich gives example of crowd-economy, which began developing at an enormous speed in recent years.
"I believe over the last two years we see the society changing. We have lived with the concept of " state takes care of everything" for 20 years, but suddenly the state has run out of money. So it leaves many fields, freeing space for all sorts of civic initiatives", - explained the representative of the jury.
All eight finalists of the contest received this or that support - state protection, expert consulting, advertising, partial or full funding. Audience Choice Award was received by an e-shop project "Grandma's garlic". Project sets its goal to assist pensioners in legally and comfortably selling their food products.
Belarusian business voted for "TataZala" project as Grand Prix. The initiative attracts fathers to school gyms in order to spend time together with their children.
This means that soon some things that make the world a better place can appear in our country.