Business and Philanthropy Connecting the Adriatic Region
Interview of Aleksandra Stojanović, MK Group’s Corporate Affairs Director, Member of the Board of Directors, for the magazine Diplomacy&Commerce
“The Family Support” project is one of the socially responsible projects through which MK Group is connecting the region. This year, MK Group was the recipient of a Diplomacy&Commerce Award for the best socially responsible company. We spoke with Aleksandra Stojanović, MK Group’s Corporate affairs director, about the company’s CSR strategy and the projects that led to the company being given this prestigious award.
MK Group implements valuable, large-scale philanthropic projects, for which it has been allocating significant funds – 5 million euros in the last five years. When you received the social responsibility award you said that CSR is one of the focuses of your company and its trademark. Does this mean that business recognizes the value of spending money on CSR?
Our group operates primarily in Europe, with a special focus on the Adriatic region. MK Group is recognized for implementing innovations in agriculture, tourism and renewable energy sources. We are making strides in these areas and bringing new trends to these segments. For forty years, have been developing sustainable businesses, and such success would not be possible if our focus was only on short-term financial results. Success is a journey, not a destination. Along the way, you change the environment, expand your horizons and raise your standards – both for yourself and for others.
This could not have been done without CSR. Although it sounds like a cliche, we really live by these values and believe that there is no successful business without investing in people and society. Without developed communities, there is no long-term growth and without improving the entire environment, we cannot push the boundaries.
All leaders are aware of this and that’s why they don’t talk about social responsibility as much anymore because doing business while being mindful of CSR is almost implied. We, at MK Group, demonstrate this not only through philanthropy but by employing close to 6,000 people throughout the Adriatic region, cooperating with 70,000 subcontractors from diversified areas and supporting the development of the 123 local communities in which we operate.
The Family Support project is one of the socially responsible projects that connect the region. At the end of last year, you announced donations to maternity hospitals – how far have you come with this project?
Family Support is our regional programme which has a beautiful tradition. Namely, for the last five years, together with AIK Bank, MK Group has been financially helping its employees who became parents. Subsequently, we decided to expand the project externally, through donations to maternity hospitals in Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina – to a total of seven maternity hospitals where around 16,000 babies are born annually. In this way, we support not only the families of our employees but also families in the region who are expecting a baby and for which we allocated a total of 700,000 euros. By improving conditions in maternity hospitals, we want to contribute to the quality of health care for pregnant women, mothers in labour and newborn babies. Our ultimate goal is to support family policy and measures to boost the birth rate. The decline in birth rate is something that all the countries of the Adria region are facing, and I think it is important that all stakeholders get involved in resolving this project. We received great support from the ministries of health in all the countries where we are implementing the project, which certainly contributed to its efficient implementation.
In particular, in late June, we opened renovated maternity rooms at the Ljubljana Maternity Hospital, where mothers in Slovenia can enjoy the best of European maternity hospitals. During the summer, we will complete the donations in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and by the end of the year, in Montenegro. In the autumn of this year, we expect to open the renovated admission department at the Gynecology and Obstetrics Hospital which operates under the Dr Dragiša Mišović Clinical Centre.
In this project, you are focused on young families and support for mothers and babies. What other topics are you involved with, that is, what other areas are the focus of your CSR projects?
Our strategic commitment is, above all, financing children & youth and education programmes. Under the auspices of such programmes, there is a segment relating to the care for orphaned children in cooperation with the SOS Children’s Village. We have allocated over 300,000 euros in total for this purpose so far. In addition to the Youth Centre in Kraljevo, we financially support the Family Support Centre in Niš, together with AIK Bank.
We are currently working on a really big education project, with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Belgrade as our project partner. In terms of the amount of investment and contribution to Serbian society, I believe that nothing similar has been done in this part of the world, so we will certainly have something to talk about next year.