Last week I spoke about embedding CSR at the first annual CSR forum in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Aside from seeing the inside of the atmospheric cathedral in Sofia, I attempted to work out how CSR is progressing in the country.
What did I learn?
Well, despite the recession, the organisers, Capital Weekly, a Bulgarian business paper, were able to bring in 150 odd business people and NGOs. So that’s a good sign for CR in tough times. It is still spreading strongly.
What else? That partnerships with NGOs are becoming important in Bulgaria.
Again, a good sign.
Consultants trying to establish a business in the country told me that most of the focus in the country is about philanthropy and sponsorship, quite common in Central and Eastern Europe.
I sensed they were right. Many of the questions I had from the audience were about my assertion that CSR is NOT philanthropy.
But that’s how it starts in every country. What’s really interesting about CR in places such as Bulgaria is how fast the paradigm is changing.
It took the UK a long time to make the shift. My bet is that it will be an awful lot quicker in Bulgaria.
Multi-national companies, UNDP and the Global Compact can take a lot of credit for this.
But there are also some interesting emerging examples of local firms engaging in environmental and social issues. As these develop, they will have as least as much, if not more influence, on others.