Corporate social responsibility has long become an integral part of the work of big, medium-sized and even small businesses in Europe and the USA. Projects of technological giants are global in their nature – they focus on global warming, pollution of the oceans, and social problems of the Third World. Smaller companies focus on charity and helping low-income groups of the population. Social responsibility is reflected in the official reports of companies and has become an indispensable part of their business.

In Eastern Europe, the situation is different. The culture of social responsibility of business here is in its infancy and is situational and irregular. The exceptions are IT companies. They adopt the experience of Western colleagues and integrate social projects to the list of corporate values. International investor Rustam Gilfanov, who is a co-founder of one of the largest IT companies in Ukraine, Lucky Labs, told us how and why this is being done.

Rustam Gilfanov
Rustam Gilfanov

At the moment, the company implements several long-term social projects related to educational activities – publishes popular science books for teenagers, helps students create and promote startups, develops free spaces in Ukrainian libraries and participates in organizing educational courses and festivals for young people.

Rustam Gilfanov is sure that for companies related to IT, a contribution to educational and popular science projects is an investment in the future human resources potential of their own companies. In addition, according to the businessman, social projects are useful for the development of the company itself. They bring together the team and increase the level of social importance of each employee. And remembering what mission the company performs, people willingly come to the business and carry out most important tasks.

Social projects are an integral part of our company’s activities and the lives of our employees. For many years now, we have been cooperating with a charitable foundation that helps children in difficult situations. A few years ago we decided to expand this activity and focus on youth development, providing children with opportunities for interesting and high-quality education that would expand their horizons.

“This is how LuckyBooks project appeared. Within this project, we have been engaged in publishing and free distribution of popular science literature for teenagers in Ukrainian for two years. We publish translated books and look for talented Ukrainian authors, help them bring their knowledge to adolescents. It is important that all the books of the project are published in Ukrainian: Ukrainian-language books are now especially in demand,” – Rustam Gilfanov says.

The businessman notes that at the moment the project’s books are already represented in dozens of libraries in different regions of Ukraine. But the main focus of the company is on the eastern regions of the country, where hostilities take place and it is much more difficult for children to develop.

“Our employees not only transfer books to these regions, but also regularly come to meet children in libraries and boarding schools with lectures and gifts,” says Gilfanov.

While publishing and distributing books, the company got acquainted with the state of libraries in Ukraine. Many of them no longer meet the needs of modern readers, and outwardly they have not changed since the 1980s. Then the company joined the project to create an open space in the country’s children’s libraries as part of the Libraries of the Future Project. In one of the libraries, over which the company took patronage, company’s employees regularly conduct free courses on programming for children.

“All of these projects are aimed at developing schoolchildren. But this year we started working with students. Lucky Labs has become a partner of the network of academic business incubators. The initiative is aimed at developing youth entrepreneurship and supporting talented students who offer extraordinary ideas and startups.

“At the moment, the organization actively cooperates with the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, opens entrepreneurial clubs in higher educational institutions of the country, helps students to implement their ideas and find funding for their activities. This autumn, the project’s office opened in Moldova,” says Rustam Gilfanov.

The businessman is confident that today the IT industry is a marker and engine of positive change in the corporate culture of Eastern Europe. It is in this industry that young people come, who absorb European values and try to change the world for the better. The task of leaders is to give such opportunity. The more companies work on this, the greater the likelihood that the changes will become a snowball and cover all areas of the economy and people’s lives.

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