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Contributing to Curaçao Should Be Part of Our DNA

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“CSR is all about incorporating respect, transparency, and inclusion of the community. It’s like a three-legged stool. If one leg is missing the stool won’t stand up.” -Bernarda Elizalde, Responsible Mineral Development Consultants, Inc.

Corporate Social Responsibility: A Must for the Development of Curaçao
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept that is becoming more and more appealing to corporations across the globe. In Curaçao, the term is still new, and many CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners are still discovering what it means. In today’s world, a company cannot survive by simply setting up shop in a community, paying its taxes, complying with the law and adhering to government regulations. Seeing as governments are now providing less regulatory oversight, companies must step up to control their own social risks, sustainability, environments, and health and safety conditions when pursuing profit. The idea of corporations in all industries managing to control their triple bottom line, people, profit and planet, is sweeping the globe and Curaçao too.

The great thing about Curaçao is that given its small size, the feeling of community is inherent in businesses across the island. Some businesses implemented policies to provide for their employees and the community at large, long before the term CSR even existed.

MCB: Leading by example
Maduro & Curiel’s Bank N.V. (MCB) is the oldest bank in the Dutch Caribbean; in 2016, the bank will celebrate its 100-year anniversary. Over the past century, the bank has grown to provide both financial and non-financial services, including insurance brokering, private banking and corporate management services. Over the years, MCB has become a part of the community of the islands at large, particularly that of Curaçao.

The idea of contributing to the community and improving the island is the vision of the bank’s management, starting at the inception of its 100 years of existence. MCB contributes to important organizations, projects, and cultural, social, religious, sport, education and environmental events, benefiting our youth, neighborhoods and different charitable institutions. Contributions vary and reach further than financial donations and sponsorships. Most of the time the bank is willing to provide gifts, knowledge and physical hands-on support through its collective knowledge and employees. Over the years, MCB has been an important part of funding key events in Curaçao that highlight our cultural heritage and promote youth involvement. In 2013 alone, MCB in Curaçao made over 4,900 donations amounting to more than NAfl. 2.7 million.

Michael de Sola, the current Managing Director of the Bank, put it best when he said, “The term Corporate Social Responsibility is not really used at MCB; not because we aren’t responsible, but because being responsible in our communities is part of the Bank’s DNA. It’s who we are; every employee feels that this is important. Upon establishing the bank, one of the main principles was to be a corporate citizen and, as Shon Jojo Corea best put it, ‘the bank to be raised for the glory of our native island.’”

Sustainable Sponsoring
Many corporations choose to sponsor events that work for the sustainable progress of society, be it through culture, education, sport or other leisure activities. Sponsoring events is a very direct form of CSR, giving corporations the exposure they need, while helping a cause with little (human) resources. Since there are so many projects in Curaçao that need sponsoring, it would be a great initiative for companies to start incorporating CSR into their businesses. The most important aspect of this is that corporations provide initiatives with a certain financial security.

“In 2013 alone, MCB made over 4,900 donations amounting to more than NAfl. 2.7 million.”

When they begin to sponsor them. This allows the initiative to benefit as well.

MCB has made it a point to continue to fund cultural events that it has sponsored for many years. An example of this is the annual “Festival di Tumba,” part of the cultural carnival celebrations on the island. They have also sponsored sporting events in Curaçao, including the Soccer Federation (FFK) and the women’s softball league. With their firm belief of environmental sustainability, the Bank also sponsors Home Farming Events organized by the Junior Chamber. With 4,900 projects sponsored yearly, MCB is leading the way to sustainable sponsoring in Curaçao, taking on new events, while maintaining its old Commitments.

The Bank has a set of criteria in which it determines which organizations it supports. The initiatives it supports must have a proper organizational structure and be sustainable. In addition, projects that focus on social education, sustainable development and creating awareness for desired community behavior often receive funding from the bank. Besides giving financial support, the bank’s employees also provide a helping hand or connect the organizations with the right people.

Reaching out to Society
In addition to sponsoring events by other organizers, many companies have also started to host their own events to strengthen their role in societies. These kinds of events very often allow the community to connect directly with a corporation, and add a human touch. It also gives employees the chance to be representatives of the corporation at these events, and works to strengthen teamwork within corporations in unconventional ways. Oftentimes, employees are very much drawn towards these types of projects within their company, because the reward is both personal and professional.

MCB uses its children’s mascot, Lito, to embody the bank’s socially responsible character. Lito hosts events where local school children compete in different activities, such as reading, singing and athletics. The children win prize money for their school, promoting teamwork and a love for learning. In addition, the bank also offers prizes and awards for those organizations that are doing good things for Curaçao.

Volunteerism Strengthens Society
It is important that corporations use CSR to give employees the opportunity to learn more about their community and contribute to its development. In the past, employees were expected to work from 9 to 5 with no additional commitments. Today, workplaces are slowly being transformed into communities. With this in mind, corporations are also starting to integrate more into society. In order to give their brand a human face, these companies encourage employees to give back to their communities. Sometimes, companies even allow employees to use working hours to do so.

MCB manages this aspect of CSR particularly well. Their employees are encouraged to be responsible members of our community and contribute to the things in which they believe. Each year the Bank spends one week in December, Siman di Kurason Positivo (Week of the Positive Heart), where employees provide direct social assistance to the less fortunate in our society. In December 2013, 250 employees voluntarily provided assistance. The Bank also holds the record for the most blood donated by a corporate citizen. “The more companies that inspire their employees to get involved in the sustainable development of Curaçao, the better, said de Sola.” “As a professional, and within my role in the Bank, I often encourage other companies to do the same type of things we are doing. Our funds are not infinite, so it’s great when other companies contribute as well.”

The Private Sector Is Key to Success
There are a lot of positive initiatives attempting to improve the situation on the island. With the emergence of CSR, it is becoming more and more important that the private sector becomes more involved with this, especially as governments are shrinking. While CSR is still a new concept, many companies in Curaçao are starting to recognize their roles as important actors in our community. Contributing to society is rewarding for companies as a whole, as well as to individual employees. As de Sola best put it, “We are part of the community, and it is important that we do things for our community.” .