Before the coronavirus crisis hit in the mid-March, the effects of global warming and biodiversity decline spread across newspaper headlines and emerged as one of key focus points of socially responsible actions in international politics. At the same time, calls for more responsible conduct of businesses towards their employees and consumers, as well as consideration of the local companies, intensified in numerous countries. Then the sudden Covid-19 virus epidemic turned the world upside down and all these efforts were brushed aside – but not for long. It soon became clear that with the right approach, something positive could come out of the epidemic – a more socially responsible and sustainable world conduct.
The Adriatic Journal in Cooperation with NLB
Nowadays, more and more companies find that they need to adjust their business models and strategy to actively include sustainability goals. Otherwise consumers, who are aware of sustainability issues, will no longer buy their products, and businesses will risk being dropped from supply chains of companies committed to pursue concrete climate and socially responsible targets. This is why, even though the epidemic is still not entirely under control, the requirements for consistent observation of sustainable ESG criteria (environmental, social, governance) have come to the fore once again.
NLB Group paves the way towards regional sustainability platform
One of the most high-profile sustainability projects launched recently in our region is indisputably the #HelpFrame Project, with which NLB Group addresses its sustainable role in all SE European region markets where it operates. The project is meant to help in particular small and micro businesses that have suffered most from the coronavirus crisis and at the same time represent an important pillar of the economy. In Slovenia, for example, most local companies – more than 90 percent – are classified as micro companies, which means they employ less than 10 people. These companies are particularly vulnerable during this time, as they depend on consumer sentiment which has dropped considerably since the coronavirus epidemic. Companies are bound by contracts and deadlines: both entrepreneurs towards their partners and vice versa. In many cases, the work process has been limited or interrupted completely, which is why businesses are facing considerable financial losses and delays in delivery of their projects. Just a few days of interrupted work results in considerably less income, while the company’s running costs remain the same.
By supporting local entrepreneurs, NLB helps them restore and develop their operations, contributing considerably to strengthening local small business at the time of adverse conditions due to Covid-19. With the #HelpFrame Project NLB in Slovenia alone offered its own advertising space to more than 80 entrepreneurs, farmers and micro and small businesses, which would otherwise be difficult for them to afford in these times, and thus helped them reach potential buyers with their voice, work and efforts. In tenders in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia additional 80 businesses were selected among several hundred of submitted applications..
- Blaž Brodnjak, CEO of NLB
“For us, sustainability is not just something we put on paper, but an actual series of decisions and actions with which we aim to become a company that has a significant positive impact on society and the environment in the region where we operate."
“In the NLB Group, business goals are not the only thing that we pursue, as we truly believe we can contribute to better conditions for companies and to the quality of living of all residents in this region. For us SE Europe is not just a spot on the map – it is our home. Here are the people who mean the most to us. This is where the heart and the brain of the NLB Group are, which is why our wish and our ambition is to see this region thrive. The #HelpFrame project is the first in line of our Group’s planned activities, intensely addressing a sustainable role in the markets where we operate, as our goal is to set up a regional sustainability platform. We want to support businesses that operate locally or regionally, that create here, in this region, and that understand their social role the way we understand and fulfil our own,” says Blaž Brodnjak
How did an entrepreneur in Slovenia respond to the #HelpFrame Project?
Matej Kline, Permaculture Institute Maribor
“Tenders for European funds are always relevant for us, as the EU also strives for sustainable development. We have applied for tenders many times before and there will be even more possibilities in the new Green Deal.”
- Matej Kline, founder and director of the Permaculture Institute Maribor
Matej Kline, founder and director of the Permaculture Institute Maribor, which establishes sustainable systems and aims to educate the public and raise its awareness of sustainable practices. “We were granted European funds, but the recipient is required to provide the funds in advance. We received a loan from NLB for the approved project and therefore we were able to carry it out,” adds Kline.
How did an entrepreneur in Serbia respond to the #HelpFrame Project?
Ana Cvejić, Design studio from Belgrade
Design with your character – #EGOBALLERINA by Ana Cvejic – Idea Boutique – is the campaign headline for multidisciplinary design studio from Belgrade, one of 30 upcoming companies supported by NLB Banka Beograd. Unique Ego Ballerina prints on shoes, furniture and interior adorned both digital visuals as well as printed city lights positioned all around the Serbian capital.
- Ana Cvejić, founder of A.C -Idea Boutique- and Ego Ballerina brand
"For me, this is a very valuable campaign, and the fact that is still ongoing, together with the trust that NLB Banka Beograd gave to my design studio, contributed to increased awareness of my studio and a big number of visitors to my webpage. All this will hopefully reflect in new clients from Serbia and the region as well."
How did an entrepreneur in Bosnia and Herzegovina respond to the #HelpFrame Project?
Samra Čomor, CEO & Tour guide for CoolTour Agency in Sarajevo
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the tourism sector has been developing throughout the last couple of years and this year was supposed to be the biggest one yet for Samra Čomor and her business partner, Vedran Grebo. They have been training new tourist guides to join their team, creating new offers, and looking forward to the bright future ahead. All plans were suddenly put to a halt due to covid-19 pandemic and they were left without any hope for an excellent year, says Čomor. In June they found their silver lining though – a special project implemented by NLB Banka Sarajevo, that seemed like a perfect channel to reach the local market. Čomor and Grebo were already working hard on promoting their offers to local customers, but it was a novelty for them since they primarily work with foreign markets, and, in addition, they weren’t in the best financial situation for heavy marketing, so they decided to give it a go and try their luck.
NLB chose us, which definitely gave us some hope for a better tomorrow. We decided to promote just one of our many offers, simply because we wanted to emphasise our strengths, which lie in ECO friendly, nature oriented, historical tours that can give an insight into the special bond we have with our partners in the field.
- Samra Čomor, CEO & Tour guide for CoolTour Agency in Sarajevo
Čomor and Grebo say they are extremely happy with NLB bank – their partner now – that is helping them overcome the difficult time that has affected everyone. They are looking forward to all new experiences and new friends they will meet along the way, adding they are keeping their business with the NLB for good.