Case Studies of Effective Communication Between NGOs and Businesses in Belarus

On September 4, with support from the Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minsk hosted a training on effective communication and successful cooperation between NGOs and business enterprises. The event was organized by ODB Brussels and the German Society for International Education and Cooperation “Koopp Forum International”, with technical and information support from human rights organization “Human Constanta”. More than 30 participants came to listen about real Belarusian cases, meet experts and learn from their experience, in order to use it in development of their own projects.

The first expert to speak was Marina Barauko, Deputy Head of the Board of the “European Business Association”. She represents the Association in more than nine state bodies and knows from practical experience how business enterprises communicate with public associations. Marina described a case study of cooperation between a public organization and a business, using the example of "Milkavita". Marina says that "it's a great example of how a particular enterprise can simultaneously solve environmental problems and their own economical ones. Milk whey is toxic, and disposing of it costs a lot of money and requires a lot of water (you need ten litres of purified water to dispose of one litre of milk whey). In the European Union, milk whey has long been processed into other products: food for livestock, bio additives for different foods”.

Marina  Barauko, Deputy Head of the Board of the “European Business Association” at a training event on 04.09.2017, Minsk


Thanks to the green economy project, which was funded by the EU and the UN Development Programme, the enterprise purchased special equipment to be installed at "Milkavita" dairy farm in Homel region. In this way, the company has resolved the question of curd whey utilization: this equipment will process it into nutritional additives to calves up to 6 months old. The machines have already been installed and are now being set up. Marina stressed that, in order to build partnerships, you need to find business partners with the same goals you have, so that you can do efficient, mutually beneficial work. Together with the participants, the expert discussed ways of finding business partners for civil society organizations, focusing on personal contacts.

Maksim Padbiarozkin, coordinator of ODB Brussels projects in Belarus, presented two more cases. In the first part of his presentation, he talked about fundraising and the fact that charity needs to be presented not as aid but as mutually beneficial partnership. In the second part, Maksim covered common CSR-related stereotypes and provided specific examples of ways to overcome challenges that an organization might face because of these stereotypes. There is no common rule for success, and quite often you have to adapt your behaviour based on the specific situation, as well as the objectives and mission of the organization.

Maksim Padbiarozkin, coordinator of ODB Brussels projects in Belarus, at the training on 04.09.2017, Minsk


In her emotional presentation, Katsiaryna Kaurova enthusiastically told about sources of motivation and how not to burn out when you work with social projects and social entrepreneurship. You can read more about her story of setting up a successful social enterprise "Nashi Maistry", which employs people with alcohol and drug addiction, on our website: Katsiaryna Kaurova, Co-Founder of "Nashi Maistry" Social Enterprise: Believing in Goals and Mission of an Organization.

Katsiaryna Kaurova, co-founder of “Nashi Maistry” (“Our Craftsmen”) social enterprise and the Katsiaryna Kaurova Family Centre, during the training on 04.09.2017 in Minsk


Ihar Kolchanka, Director of the PR Studio Sette and former Head of Sales and Marketing at A-100 Development, presented a different perspective to civil society representatives and social entrepreneurs. He stressed that in Belarus today, if a social project is good, you can find opportunities to “cohabitate” with a big brand. The marketing landscape has changed a lot in the past several years, and “head-on”, blatant advertising does not work anymore, especially when the company needs to form a certain attitude towards its brand or one of its products. That is why large companies are interested in supporting social projects, which may help them correctly position a product they wish to promote.

Ihar Kolchanka, Director of the PR Studio Sette, during the training on 04.09.2017, Minsk


"Another important point I want to emphasize: if you have successfully organized a festival or another event, the next time you need to come out of your comfort zone and do it differently. Because, if you do not look for new approaches to your issues, your audience will become smaller”.

Tatsiana Dzhunedzha is now working as a corporate partnerships specialist at SOS Children's Villages, but she used to work in business. Tatsiana has presented a number of cases showcasing how SOS Children's Villages engages with businesses and partners. Now, the share of grants in their funding is only about 1%, and the rest of the funds come solely from CSR. “Ideally, businesses must realize themselves what cooperating with a non-commercial organization gives them. Companies cannot develop harmoniously within a society unless they invest in this society. If you establish a good, equitable partnership, you can achieve great results and make a significant social impact. However, businesses cannot and must not do this, as it is the duty of civil society organizations. In Europe, businesses already understand the benefits, and their main goal is not using civil society organizations for PR but help them make a social impact”.

Tatsiana Dzhunedzha, a Leading Corporate Partnerships Specialist at SOS Children’s Villages, during the training on 04.09.2017, Minsk


Kristina Vitushka has worked in business for a long time and, while a commercial director, used to consider financial aid applications and proposals of cooperation. As a specialist who knows the issue from the inside, she spoke about the real reasons for refusing an application and what needs to be done to get your project approved. Kristina listed about a dozen of important points that may affect an approval. She specifically noted that a civil society organization needs to raise its profile, get the public interested in it and provide opportunities for large companies to make an appeal to their target audience through that project.

Kristina Vitushka, Master of Business Administration in Public Administration, business development expert, during the training on 04.09.2017, Minsk


Aliaksandr Skrabouski, co-organizer of Social Weekend social project competition and Head of the United Nations Global Compact Office, completed the intense day of training. He briefly reiterated the most important points already covered by other speakers. Aliaksandr advised representatives of the civil sector and social entrepreneurs to learn to speak the language of business to make their point, and to do it loudly and clearly. It is also very important to work with the project in its early stages, to understand whether it’s a charity one of a commercial one. As a rule, social enterprises are positioned somewhere in between these two direction, so it is even more for them to determine their work model and what their objectives are.

Hanna Baranouskaya, Head of Human Constanta, Aliaksandr Skrabouski, co-organizer of Social Weekend social project competition and Head of the United Nations Global Compact Office, and Alyona Lis, Head of ODB Brussels, during the training on 04.09.2017

At the end of his speech, Aliaksandr Skrabousky once again emphasized the crucial thing every expert had covered: “You need to be crazy about the idea yourself and understand why you need it. Only then you will be able to tell businesses about your idea with different emotions, which by themselves can motivate them to give you the funding. If you “infect” an entrepreneur with your idea, they will themselves find an answer to the question of why their company needs to cooperate with you”.

Text by: Valerya Nikalaychyk

Photo: Tatiana Brazouskaya



ODB Brussels