» CORPORATE SOCIAL INVESTMENT
The goal of “Corporate Social Investement” was to encourage local and international businesses operating in Azerbaijan to reach beyond one-time charity donations and consider strategic philanthropic investments in their communities.
Traditional “local philanthropy” programs in Azerbaijan have been geared more towards ensuring NGO sustainability rather than corporate-community connections, which has reduced the willingness of many companies to become involved in such activities. EPF has decided to structure its program within its private enterprise portfolio and cultivate an open environment for businesses to comfortably meet and discuss their common concerns. At the end of 2007, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) in Azerbaijan launched a new vision for social investment through its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) program, which leverages the capabilities, expertise, partnerships and financial resources of businesses with development initiatives that sharpen their own competitive advantages.
EPF’s CSI Program focused on three major areas (1) Network Development – providing regular opportunities to share approaches, projects and related experiences among corporate social investment specialists; (2) Consulting and Capacity Development – providing customized opportunities to develop capacity in designing and implementing social programs and encouraging partnerships among different stakeholders; (3) Information Dissemination & Publications – promoting CSI/CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) through the spread of information about EPF’s current activities, CSI best practices and success stories in Azerbaijan and worldwide.
As a result of the CSI Program, 2008 saw increased interest in strategic corporate philanthropy among local businesses. Over 40 local companies were introduced to the concept of corporate social investment and about 20 have been engaged in Azeri CSI network of companies, regularly participating in the program’s activities. A series of study tours to business companies were attended by representatives of 30 businesses and non-profit organizations; they shared CSIpractical tools and techniques. Throughout the year receptions and workshops with prominent western CSR experts were conducted for middle-level business managers and leaders of nonprofit organizations on the CSR concept and its importance in the contemporary business world as well as on the design and implementation of strategic social investment programs.
As part of the Consulting and Capacity development component of the program, EPF provided consulting services for a large well-known insurance company and helped to design a plan for developing the company’s CSI portfolio in 2009. As the result of EPF’s program, a major mobile operator has decided to create a new position of CSR manager, while two major companies have expressed their commitment to open CSR manager positions and fill them in 2009. EPF developed and, since February 2008 has been distributing a CSI e-bulletin highlighting recent news on corporate philanthropy from national and multinational companies, program highlights and other CSI activities. There are more than 400 recipients.
EPF’s CSI program was a good example of collaboration among businesses, NGOs, and governmental bodies in Azerbaijan, where EPF was partnering with other organizations involved in promoting a more effective business environment. Partners include National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (ASK), Azerbaijan Turkey Business Association, American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and AZPROMO/UNDP Global Compact project. In November 2008, in cooperation with the American Chamber of Commerce, EPF organized a luncheon in recognition of the visit of Ms. Henrietta H. Fore, the Administrator and Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance at USAID, emphasizing its successful partnership with USAID in the field of public-private partnership. EPF’s CSI program worked on increasing the number of partner organizations and businesses in 2009 and expand the current partnerships.