On June 28th 2018 in Sofia, the UNGC Local Network Bulgaria facilitated a conference under the motto SDG Business forum. The event was organized as part of a mutual project between the Bulgarian and Macedonian Local Networks and its focus was on sharing the Bulgarian businesses’ experience in good sustainability practices. The main topic of the conference was the socially responsible politics led by the Bulgarian companies in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. Darina Georgieva, Executive director and Ms. Marina Stefanova, ‘Sustainable development’ director of the LN in Bulgaria opened the conference by focusing their talk on Agenda 2030 and the new European politics for corporate sustainable development.
During the thematic panel debates and in networking sessions, the Macedonian delegates learned more about efficient corporate practices and collaboration initiatives between the nongovernmental sector and the local institutions.
The participants in the panel discussions represented the Bulgarian association Natural gas, the University of Finance, Business and Entrepreneurship, Ideagen, Overgas, Sopharma Pharmaceuticals and BCause Foundation. In their presentations, entrepreneurs, technocrats and communication specialists highlighted the importance of social inclusion and gave examples of their organizations’ good practices targeting the development of local communities.
Ms. Elena Stefanova, part of the Communication strategies and CSR directorate at Sopharma Pharmaceuticals, talked about the various social benefits of the participation at the Bulgarian network’s project ‘Games for good’ – ‘It does not matter how proficient athlete you are and whether you will win the prize of the competition. Surely, it is difficult to accept the defeat. However, at the end of the day you admit to yourself that the cause of the other team is equally important to your cause. With this project we manage to engage the employees and earn respect.’ Ms. Stefanova also spoke about a growing tendency – a decrease in people’s trust at the government and in the media as opposed to the growing trust at the experts and the business (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2018). This tendency clearly shows the huge importance business has in society development.
In her presentation, Ms. Elitsa Barakova, Executive director of BCause Foundation, shared her experience in payroll donation and employee engagement – ‘Doing good deeds can be integrated into our everyday life. We do not have to be called Warren Buffett and make donations after we have made our fortune. On the contrary, we can do good by making small steps every day.’
Ms. Gergana Petrovska, Internal communications manager at Overgas, shared the company’s experience in employee and community engagement, and the philosophy ‘cum & panis’. She also presented their company initiative called ‘Everyone needs a good company’. ‘’Everyone needs a good company’ means that one should be useful with what they do, one should be proud of what they do. It also means that we should respect the others and their work’, said Ms. Petrovska.
During the second panel discussion, Ms. Tsveti Ilieva, Marketing manager at Ideagen, spoke about the importance and benefits of participating at the Bulgarian Network’s programme ‘Proud of my parents’ work’. By sharing her company’s experience from taking part in this project, Ms. Ilieva showed that participating in large scale initiatives is an achievable endeavor even by the smaller companies.
The administrative director and professor at the University of Finance, Business and Entrepreneurship, professor Radostin Vazov, presented university’s successful experience in preparing students who find professional development shortly after their graduation. This example shows how efficient and work market oriented the programmes at the University of Finance, Business and Entrepreneurship are. Mr. Vazov also presented the National action plan in relation to the European Pact for Youth. The university was an active stakeholder in the creation of the National plan.
The Chairman of the Bulgarian local network was among the leaders and visionaries who took part at the event. He shared his view that by engaging in socially meaningful causes, business can prove its value to society. In his speech Mr. Trajanov added – ‘Business is a force for good. It is our duty to prove that companies’ capacity is highly valuable not only because it helps build economic growth but also because it creates new products and services, it helps preserve the environment, it takes care of the people and can be of service to the community. Sustainable development is triggered by the business.’
See gallery from the conference here