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Center-invest Bank is one of Russia’s top corporate philanthropists

Center-invest Bank, southern Russia’s leading bank, has been ranked 7th in the list of Leading Corporate Philanthropists in the Financial Sector and 30th in the overall ranking of the best Russian companies for philanthropy. The Leading Corporate Philanthropists list was compiled by the federal business newspaper Vedomosti together with PwC and the non-profit partnership Donors Forum. The ranking is based first and foremost on the effectiveness of the programmes being implemented, and only companies with a systemic approach to philanthropy are eligible for inclusion.

Center-invest Bank was set up 20 years ago by southern Russia’s first privatized enterprises. Since its inception, the bank has run training programmes for business managers, entrepreneurs, schoolchildren and students. It has supported teachers and young academics, and it has had special programmes for war veterans and pensioners. The success of these programmes owes much to the efforts of the bank’s highly qualified and competent employees (approximately 30 members of staff have advanced degrees and an academic title, and every year as many as 20 employees are studying for postgraduate qualifications). The team’s knowledge of best international practice, obtained through Center-invest Bank’s work with international financial institutions (IFC, EBRD, GEG, KfW. FMO, OoEB, Eurasian Development Bank), has also been key.

Center-invest Bank’s philanthropic activities form an intrinsic part of its Sustainable Development Strategy and its Mission: to provide the local population and businesses in southern Russia with a range of banking services on the basis of international banking standards and modern technologies. The bank’s activities include targeted support for motherhood, childhood, education, pensioners and veterans.

Center-invest Bank’s social, educational and charitable programmes are based on social enterprise principles and complement the product line of a universal bank:

  • By regularly providing free advice and seminars for business people on how to overcome administrative barriers, the bank’s Advice Centres are reducing the risks of lending to finance SME modernization projects.
  • By gifting energy saving light bulbs to 3500 pensioners, the bank has increased public awareness of energy efficiency.
  • Lectures for students on sustainable development are helping to create a new mentality among younger generations.
  • Teaching students and schoolchildren about the principles of enterprise (following a specially developed methodical course), preferential loan terms for businesswomen, a business start-up programme, including a grace period for loan repayments and free advice: all of these measures are helping shape the future economy of southern Russia.

In 2002-2003 the bank organised free Internet skills training courses for 3,500 schoolchildren. During a three-hour course the schoolchildren learnt Internet basics, created a website for their class, and wrote a letter to a friend. At the end of the course, students received a textbook on how to navigate the Internet independently.

Since 2006 Center-invest Bank has run a charitable project that allows Rostov region schoolchildren to visit the “Treasures of the Don Steppes” exhibition at the Rostov Region Local Studies Museum free of charge. Approximately 60,000 schoolchildren have visited the exhibition since the project began. The Rostov Region’s Museum of Fine Arts joined the project in 2011, with its exhibition “The Artistic Heritage of Southern Russia”.

In 2009, Center-invest Bank launched a new educational project called “Enterprise for All”, which aims to promote enterprise education among all sectors of the population, including schoolchildren, students, teachers and the entrepreneurs of today and the future.

In 2010-2012, the bank gifted 9,000 copies of its textbook Small Business: Enterprise for All for Schoolchildren to schools in southern Russia. For three years in a row, together with the Rostov Region Institute for the Advanced Training and Retraining of Education Workers, the bank has held a competition for schoolteachers running courses in the principles of enterprise. The total prize fund is RUB500,000. In addition, for ten years now, Center-invest Bank has financed an annual “Don Teacher of the Year” competition.

Thanks to financial support from Center-invest Bank, since 2011 the Rossiya-Don television channel has broadcast a programme called “I Am Here!” to encourage the adoption of children from children’s homes and refuges.

Every year Center-invest Bank and the Endowment Fund for Education and Science in the Southern Federal District award scholarships to the 250 top students from southern Russia’s leading higher education institutions. This programme has been running for ten years, and the annual scholarship fund exceeds RUB5m.

In Russia, this way of doing business is called ‘socially responsible’, while in international practice the term ’sustainable’ is used. Rather than prioritizing immediate profits, a sustainable business seeks to introduce new knowledge, technology and methods for the benefit of future generations.