The Albanian Corporate Social Responsability Network launched
How can we inspire Albanian companies to go beyond their minimum legal obligations in favor of their workers, environment and society at large? How can we generate commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? How do we make businesses see the benefits of embracing CSR principles? In the frame of its ongoing support to the promotion of CSR in the country, UNDP backs the members of the Albanian business community that are laying the foundations of the CSR Network.
Companies like AMC, Antea Cement, Bankers Petroleum, BKT Bank, Intracom Telecom Albania, Kalo & Associates, ProCredit Bank and Vodafone Albania launched on April 11, 2013, the Albanian CSR Network in a ceremony organized at the National Historical Museum. The Network was created to promote and support the sustainable development of the private sector in Albania through the promotion of CSR. This is an initiative of eight leading companies that share the same ambition, to serve as a resource base of CSR in support of a competitive and sustainable enterprise and market economy. The essence of this open Network is partnership, and it calls for the participation of not only pioneering larger companies, but also SMEs.
The activities of the CSR Network will include: Dissemination of information on CSR; Building cross-sector partnerships; Capacity building for businesses and SMEs; Policy support on CSR; Establishment of Annual CSR Awards.
Mr. Bashkim Sykja, Head of the Competitiveness Department at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy underlined that the implementation of CSR principles is important for every enterprise, because it increases its competitiveness. It brings benefits from the perspective of risk management, cost reduction, access to capital, customer relations, human resources management and development of innovative capacity.
Eno Ngjela, UNDP Programme Analyst, indicated that increasing the number of enterprises that integrate CSR principles is a collective objective of the Government, the CSR Network, UNDP and many other stakeholders. Similarly, raising awareness and building private sector capacities is everyone’s collective challenge. In addition he added: “We all know that CSR cannot be imposed. In Albania, we need to build the case for corporate social responsibility on sound economic and social arguments, and not just moral pressure. No one can better build the business case for CSR, than business itself”.
The President of the CSR Network, Mr. Adamantios Frantzis, General Manager of Antea Cement, added: “We will try to share knowledge and to design customized actions to improve the CSR competences of our members taking into account the degree of CSR maturity of each one of them. Our first priority is to build capacity; to raise awareness, engaging into activities that will make CSR a concept recognized by society and which will help us attract new members. We would like to assist companies and especially our business partners along the value chain, our customers and suppliers, large enterprises or SMEs, share the same values with us and apply them in their operations”. Mr. Frantzis concluded by emphasizing once more that the Network will align its work with ongoing efforts and seek to embrace further initiatives like the Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative.
What can CSR achieve:
Increase customer retention
Develop and enhance relationships with customers, suppliers and networks
Attract, retain and maintain a happy workforce
Save money on energy and operating costs
Differentiate yourself from your competitors
Improve your business reputation and standing
Generate positive publicity and media opportunities
To create an enabling environment for the promotion of CSR, the Government of Albania with the leadership of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy (METE), with the support of UNDP, has developed a National Action Plan on CSR. UNDP’s support for the promotion of the CSR agenda in Albania has been aligned to the priorities and activities outlined in the National Action Plan. This component falls under the Swiss Cooperation (SDC) funded project “Local Level Responses to the Youth Employment Challenge”.