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Sustainability

Corporate Social Responsibility

Center-invest Bank considers a wider range of environmental, social and governance risks; actively manages and controls these risks to achieve long-term profits in the interests of current and future generations of shareholders, employees, customers and partners.

All of Center-invest Banks CSR projects reflect the responsible attitude to the social development of the regions in which it operates, the protection of natural resources, and the improvement of the financial literacy of the general population and the new entrepreneurs who represent the future of the Russian economy.

In 2019, Center-invest Bank has obtained 82% of its income from lending to the real economy and allocated its income to: the population (interest paid on deposits) - 36%; partners and suppliers  - 23%; employees and the state  - 19%; and shareholders (dividends and development) - 22%.

Areas of Corporate Social Responsibility:

Financial literacy

The Financial Literacy Centre project, which began in April 2014, draws on Center-invest Bank’s many years of experience in promoting financial literacy. The main aim of the project is to provide the population of southern Russia with access to free advice and financial knowledge. Since its inception, the project has been rolled out in three regions: the Rostov region, the Volgograd region and Krasnodar krai. Leading higher education institutions in southern Russia are the bank’s main partners for this project.

The Financial Literacy Centres provide advice to all groups of southern Russia’s population. Specialists from the bank and partners regularly train students to work as volunteers at the Centres. Their training covers: personal financial management, business planning, sensible borrowing, online banking, taxation, and the safe use of bank cards.

In the six years since the project began, specialists and volunteers from the Centres have provided over 500,000 free consultations on financial issues.

The bank’s experience of setting up Financial Literacy Centres in partnership with leading higher education institutions has come to the attention of the World Bank. On 18 February 2019 the World Bank’s Country Director and Resident Representative for the Russian Federation, Mr Andras Horvai, visited the Financial Literacy Centre in Krasnodar. Mr Horvai noted how important it is to improve the financial literacy of the middle-aged working population, which is the most economically active section of the population. These are people who already have established financial habits, but who also have little spare time for studying. Various aspects of work to improve financial literacy among all age groups were discussed, as well as methods of evaluating its effectiveness.

"I believe that the level of financial literacy in Russia is fairly good. Centres such as this have made a huge contribution, with their serious approach to working with the general public and also with SMEs. This experience should be replicated."

In April 2019, the bank’s Financial Literacy Centres in Rostov-on-Don and Krasnodar were the main regional venues for Financial Literacy Week, organised by the Russian Finance Ministry. The main aim of this event is to teach the younger generation how to use financial products effectively.

In 2019 specialists and volunteers from the Financial Literacy Centres gave talks to over 20,000 people on the following: "Learn to watch your money like an adult", "Invest in your future — learn about personal finances", "Financial services: use them correctly" and "Financial literacy in a digital format".

To improve financial literacy, Center-invest Bank developed a free online training portal, Enterprise for All, which was launched in March 2013. Using a combination of online textbooks, video lectures and end-of-module tests, the portal provides distance learning in economics, entrepreneurship, taxation and marketing. The Enterprise for All course is available in English, Chinese, French, German and Portuguese.

More than 47,000 users have registered on the website, 21,200 of whom have already completed the training.

In addition to its own programmes, Center-invest Bank joined a Bank of Russia initiative to establish a Financial Literacy Association. We participate in expert work and strategic decision-making at the Supervisory Board level. Within the framework of this federal project, the bank provides financial and organisational support to private and public initiatives relating to financial education in Russia. We also encourage the development of a volunteer movement to support financial literacy activities.

Support for youth, female and social entrepreneurship

The bank invests considerable resources in supporting SMEs and youth, female and social entrepreneurship through its own Accelerator, thereby promoting local socioeconomic development in the region and improving the quality of life of local communities.

The bank’s Accelerator helps at all stages of business development, starting with the first stage of producing a strategy and business plan and establishing funding requirements. Over 3,000 business projects have already come to fruition, with graduates of the Accelerator receiving finance from the bank’s loan programmes for start-ups, women in business and youth business.

To provide financial support for new entrepreneurs and also for youth, female and social entrepreneurship, Center-invest Bank has developed special loan programmes with preferential interest rates, as well as an information platform. The bank’s partners for these programmes are the Guarantee Funds of the Rostov region, Volgograd region and Krasnodar krai.

To publicise and encourage replication of success stories in the social enterprise sector, since 2015 Center-invest Bank, together with the Rostov Region Public Chamber and the Russian Union of Journalists, has held an annual competition for journalists, known as the Smirnov Prize. Since the competition began, journalists from 20 Russian regions have submitted over 700 creative pieces, written with the aim of identifying and publicising best practice in social enterprise in Russia. To date, 58 journalists have won an award. Award website: http://dobro.centrinvest.ru/.

In 2019 the award ceremony was held in the "Rubin" co-working space in Rostov-on-Don (which is for social entrepreneurs and not-for-profit associations). As part of this event, Alexandra Moskovskaya, a professor from the Social Sciences Faculty at HSE University, held a roundtable on "Social Entrepreneurship in Russia and the Regions: Current State and Development Outlook". The award winners and roundtable participants then had an open discussion about how the media views social entrepreneurship.

For the third year in a row, the bank was a partner for the regional stage of the World Skills Russia competition. The event aims to attract young people into vocational sectors of the economy and to improve educational programmes to reflect Russian and international requirements for vocational skills. The bank awarded high-value prizes to all the winners. Following the competition, the winners and participants undertook further study through the bank’s Accelerator, which helped these young professionals turn their ideas into successful businesses.

The environment and energy efficiency

Environmental responsibility is a key priority for Center-invest Bank, on a par with traditional banking products and services.

Environmental protection and the introduction of energy saving technologies have enabled the bank to reduce annual СО2 emissions by 211,000 tonnes a year. This is equivalent to the emissions produced by 123,500 cars or 603,100 barrels of oil.

Volunteers from the bank regularly participate in environmental activities, such as clean-up days.

In 2019, Center-invest Bank was an official partner for Earth Hour, organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The bank shares the WWF’s values of environmental conservation and protection. We have supported the Earth Hour global movement for several years now: for one hour, the external lights and roof advertising are switched off in Center-invest Bank offices and branches. The event is held in all the areas where the bank operates: Rostov-on-Don, Taganrog, Volgodonsk, Krasnodar, Sochi, Stavropol, Pyatigorsk, Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow.

As a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, in 2019 Center-invest Bank joined in with International #BankingOnValues Day. This campaign aims to promote ESG principles worldwide. The main issues which GABV members focused on in 2019 were the environment and gender equality.

Since 2009, the bank has had a programme to finance the energy-efficient renovation of apartment buildings. At 1 January 2020, the bank had made 139 loans to homeowners’ associations, for a total of RUB213m. In Russia, apartment owners have to pay monthly contributions to a capital repairs fund. They then have to wait until there is enough money in the fund to finance renovations. When homeowners’ associations take out a loan from Center-invest Bank, they can renovate their buildings straightaway. They pay the same contributions as before, but now the money is used to repay the loan. Our loan programme has been used by customers from the Rostov and Volgograd regions, Krasnodar krai, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod.

In June 2019 eight Russian State Duma deputies visited several apartment buildings in the Rostov region that had been renovated using our loan programme. They noted that this successful experience can and should be replicated throughout Russia, and that this lending model will help address the problem of old housing stock.

The bank is continually reducing its own energy consumption. We also help our customers to introduce energy efficiency technologies. The bank has invested RUB17.3bn in 24,500 customer projects. The bank is consulting with the regulator and its customers and partners about a possible mutual reduction in the amount of paper used in financial relations.

Sport and healthy lifestyles

Center-invest Bank supports the development of sports for children and young people in the regions where it operates. It also supports its employees’ desire to keep fit and healthy.

The bank provides regular financial assistance to the "Hope" children’s sports club, where more than 50 hearing-impaired boys and girls, born between 1995 and 2005, meet to play basketball. This is the only children’s basketball club working with deaf and hearing-impaired children and teenagers in southern Russia.

In summer 2019 the bank sponsored a Futsal festival for neighbourhood teams and teams from children’s homes. This was a large event, bringing together over 60 teams from the Rostov region, with players aged 10-14. There were two separate tournaments: one for teams from children’s homes, and the other for teams from the neighbourhood league.

Children’s chess is developing in the Rostov region thanks to a partnership between Center-invest Bank and the School Chess Association. This intellectual sport is popular in the region: over 47 events and tournaments were held in 2019. These included simultaneous displays, presentations of the latest chess books, and mass tournaments for children.

The bank’s Head Office has very good fitness facilities for employees. In 2012 we opened a sports hall where employees can play table tennis, table football, air hockey and darts, and there is also a weights room. Our Head Office also has a Wellness Centre for yoga, Pilates and keep-fit. Over 350 employees regularly use these facilities.

To promote exercise and sustainable transport, Center-invest Bank has installed 15 free bicycle parking racks outside its branches, for its customers and employees. Every year, our employees take part in bike parades and regional environmental festivals. Many of them commute to work by bike.

Center-invest Bank’s tradition of holding sports tournaments for its employees began in 2012, when teams from different departments and branches competed in the first Bank President’s Cup football tournament. This event was initiated by the bank’s employees and supported by the Board of Directors and Executive Board. In 2019, over 100 players participated in our seventh football tournament, with journalists, universities and local businesspeople also forming teams.

Digitalisation of education and learning

In 2007, shareholders and customers of Center-invest Bank established the region’s first endowment fund: the Education and Science in the Southern Federal District Endowment Fund. This is a practical and effective financial instrument that allows businesses to benefit from supporting education and science in southern Russia. The fund’s capital stands at RUB110m. Every year, the endowment fund holds a competition for the best students and the best young lecturers, awards grants to young scientists, and helps talented inventors.

In the last 17 years, over 21,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students from leading higher education institutions have entered the "Smart Grant" scholarship competition. (These institutions are located in the regions where Center-invest Bank and partners of the Endowment Fund operate.) The annual scholarship fund exceeds RUB9m. To date, 5,000 scholarships have been awarded.

In 2019 all the stages of the Smart Grant competition were digitalised, and particular emphasis was placed on the entrants’ business projects. The competition is held on the smartgrant.ru website and on the Instagram account @smart_grant. Two hundred scholarships were awarded in 2019 and the scholarship amount was doubled from previous years to RUB40,000. This year, for the first time, the jury categorised the winning projects by economic sector: fintech & IT, agribusiness and gastronomy, green economy and medicine, the urban environment, manufacturing and industry, and science and education.

Center-invest Bank was a partner for the Youth Programme at VUZPROMEXPO-2019. This is a national exhibition, held since 2013 by the Russian Ministry of Science and Education. The bank presented its innovative solutions for higher education institutions based on bank cards, as well as mechanisms to develop students’ entrepreneurial initiatives using the Start-Up Degree concept.

Together with Southern Federal University, at our exhibition stand we presented the results of our Campus card project. This project, based on the Mir card, began in 2017 and became a pilot for Russian higher education institutions. The visitors to our stand — heads of leading and progressive Russian higher education institutions, officials from government ministries and departments, and media representatives — were impressed by the advantages of non-financial services based on the Mir payment system, their security, manufacturability, and practicality.

Center-invest Bank has supported the Science Festival in Southern Russia for the past decade. The event brings together people who work in the world of science and people who would like to learn more about the subject. Every year, the bank devises a new interactive programme on economics, finance and entrepreneurship for the Festival. To date, over 35,000 people have taken part in these programmes.

Center-invest Bank has always respected and supported the work of teachers who have a creative approach, who introduce new educational methods to make the learning process interesting and effective, and who encourage their pupils to be compassionate and socially aware. Since 2003, the bank has supported the Teacher of the Year regional competition, awarding prizes for the best resources and innovative approaches for teaching financial literacy to children.

Every year the bank is an official sponsor of the international educational initiative "Total Dictation", which is held for people who wish to test their proficiency in the Russian language. The bank provides venues for the event. The Financial Literacy Centre in Rostov-on-Don was available for three months in 2019 for anyone who wished to prepare for the dictation challenge. It also arranged free lessons in Russian grammar.

For the last three years, Center-invest Bank employees have taken part in a Banking Dictation. This annual corporate event is designed to check and improve employees’ literacy skills.

Assistance for the elderly, people with disabilities, and families living in difficult circumstances

The bank’s charitable projects focus primarily on children, the elderly, people with disabilities and families living in difficult circumstances. For the last 25 years, the bank has provided financial assistance to children’s homes and shelters. The funds are allocated for the repair of buildings and the purchase of essential items for the children (clothes, food, stationery, household appliances and furniture).

For the last ten years, the bank has been working successfully with the Rostov Region’s Education Ministry to support adoptive and foster parents in the region. The bank helps children living in children’s homes to find adoptive or foster parents, and it also supports large families which have adopted or are fostering children. Every week the regional television channel Russia 1 broadcasts the "I Am!" programme, which tells the stories of the brave youngsters who, despite their difficult circumstances, continue to believe in miracles and hope to one day find a new family. Of the 364 children featured on the programme, 302 have since been adopted or fostered.

To promote family values and support adoptive and foster parents, the bank works closely with the "Kuban Family" Union of Large Families in Krasnodar krai, and the Ministry of General and Vocational Education in the Rostov region, jointly organising informative, fun and charitable activities. Under this partnership, every autumn, Center-invest Bank provides stationery sets to over 2,000 children from adoptive or foster families in the Rostov region and from large families in Krasnodar krai.

Together with the Krasnodar branch of the Russian Society for the Deaf, specialists from the Financial Literacy Centre in Krasnodar created a special course in financial literacy for children with hearing loss. The course includes interactive puzzles, finance quests, and outings to the bank.

"The sign language financial literacy course is an inclusive product and a new step in the development of financial education. The project’s objectives are to help deaf and hearing-impaired children with socialisation and to make it easier for them to obtain financial services."

Center-invest Bank provides regular financial assistance to associations supporting World War II veterans, people with disabilities, and elderly people living alone.

In spring 2019, the bank supported a patriotic military project to commemorate the 74th anniversary of victory in World War II. Center-invest Bank employees joined a bicycle parade which set off from the city of Taganrog. The parade lasted 21 days. Covering a distance of 4,700km, it was one of the longest parades in the country. It also had one of the fullest programmes: the participants visited 23 districts in the Rostov region, 3 districts in Stavropol, and 5 districts in the Republic of Kalmykia.

Such events help young people to understand the full tragedy of the global conflict and the tremendous bravery of the generation that fought in the war. They can also learn more about the history and culture of the Rostov region.

In addition, Center-invest Bank holds its own event to commemorate victory in World War II. For the last eight years, for the enjoyment of veterans and Rostov-on-Don residents, we have arranged for a military band to perform outside our head office on the eve of Victory Day. The band plays traditional Russian music and much-loved tunes from the war years. The bank also gives gifts to its customers who are veterans, and we congratulate them warmly on this anniversary. In 2019, 434 veterans received gifts from the bank.

Culture

Center-invest Bank contributes to cultural development in the regions where it operates. In 2019, the Year of Theatre in Russia, the bank’s programmes to support theatre and culture were expanded. They were aimed at preserving and promoting the best national theatre traditions and achievements, highlighting the theatre traditions of young people, and assisting talented young people.

The bank has sponsored the Rostov Region "Melpomena" Theatre Festival Competition since 2014. Professional juries select the best performances, roles and theatres of the season.

Center-invest Bank’s "Kind Theatre" programme is run in partnership with Rostov State Musical Theatre. This programme is for children from large families, low income families, children with disabilities and special needs, and children who are in care. Its aim is to introduce these youngsters to the world of theatre, create opportunities for their socialisation, and also involve bank employees in volunteering. Thanks to this project, in 2019 over 1,500 children attended theatre performances.

Center-invest Bank is a permanent partner of the Alliance Française’s Music Festival in Rostov-on-Don, attended by over 2,500 people every year. In 2019, the bank was the general sponsor for the VI International Children’s Festival Competition, "Let’s Play Jazz", organised by the world-famous K. Nazaretov Jazz School.

On 1 June 2019, with financial support from the Chairman of Center-invest Bank’s Board of Directors, Dr Vasily Vysokov, a puppet theatre was opened at the Children’s University in Rostov-on-Don.

"The establishment of the puppet theatre is a clear example of how social entrepreneurship should work: it meets a community need, it uses new approaches, it is scalable, and it allows for cost recovery and financial sustainability".

The Children’s University is based at the regional facility for talented children and young people in the Rostov region, at Don State Technical University. The bank invested RUB1m in the establishment of the Children’s University.

Center-invest Bank was the general sponsor for a unique "Arty Christmas Tree" urban project. Local designers were invited to produce their own creative versions of the traditional symbol of New Year, for display in Rostov-on-Don’s main park from 27 December 2019 to 15 January 2020. The bank’s branded Christmas tree was designed by Konstantin Travin and Maxim Il’inov.

For the cultural education of children, since 2003 Center-invest Bank has run several charitable programmes together with leading museums in southern Russia, and we sponsor free visits to exhibitions for schoolchildren. Over 400,000 children have participated in this project.

Gold of the Don Steppes  — Rostov Region Local Studies Museum

The Artistic Heritage of Southern Russia  — Rostov Region Museum of Fine Art

Quiet Flows the Don  — Sholokhov Open Air State Museum, Rostov Region, and the Sholokhov Centre in Rostov-on-Don

The Artistic Heritage for Children  — Kovalenko Museum of Art, Krasnodar Krai

The Battle of Stalingrad  — Volgograd Panorama Museum

The Secrets of the Galaxy  — Volgograd planetarium

Center-invest Bank will continue its efforts to ensure that southern Russia is known not only for its remarkable past, but also for its wonderful present-day cultural achievements.

Volunteering

Corporate volunteering is one of the most important components of Center-invest Bank’s corporate culture. Developing and supporting a culture of corporate volunteering not only benefits society, but also helps with teambuilding and is an opportunity for employees to develop their personal skills.

Our corporate volunteering initiatives mainly involve helping vulnerable groups of the population, and activities relating to education, environmental protection and social welfare.

Together with the Financial Literacy Centres, volunteers from Center-invest Bank held over 1,000 events in 2019. These included: lectures, workshops and classes on financial literacy; educational games for children at mass public events, forums and festivals; clean-up days and tree-planting days; activities to commemorate Victory Day; and charity sports events.

We aim to continue promoting a culture of volunteering and to establish a large, sustainable corporate volunteering system. In 2019, 25% of our employees were involved in volunteering. We hope to increase this percentage, with an emphasis on the branch network, and also to attract external volunteers from among our customers and partners.

Other priorities for next year include maintaining the high level of volunteer hours and using corporate volunteering to expand our programmes to support vulnerable groups of the population.

All of Center-invest Bank’s branches engage constructively with local administrations and the public to address socioeconomic and environmental issues. They also work with not-for-profit organisations and the expert community at the regional level. The bank actively engages with local communities on issues relating to employment and career planning, financial literacy, and public health. It invests in culture, sport and social infrastructure, and it also helps vulnerable groups of the population. In 2019 the bank held 1,128 seminars and briefings for municipal bodies in the regions where it operates. These events addressed current issues relating to banking services, the use of remote banking, economic development, entrepreneurship, housing and utilities, and financial literacy.

Euromoney

CEE’s best bank for corporate responsibility 2020