Development Energy training grant competition in the territory of presence of Ukrgasvydobuvannya JSC, Naftogaz of Ukraine NJSC
(Description of the situation, reasons for it, effect on the company’s operation)
The extension of the geographical presence of the company shapes up the need in the rapid and high-quality development of the communication with local authorities and residents of communities. In the autumn of 2020, the local community election took place which resulted in mostly new teams coming to power. The quality of the communication, the emotional background and social perception of the company operating in 240 communities of 11 regions of Ukraine inevitably affect the long-term success.
The company had to establish a high-quality and trustworthy relationship with the communities of its presence within a short period of time according to its CSR policy. However, there was a total misunderstanding of the essence of sustainable development, partnership interaction, financial accuracy in the preparation and planning of social projects and preparation of grant applications. When the business operating in the communities is perceived not as an entity that brings the benefit of the social and economic development of communities in general and has additional influence opportunities but as an outside organisation, the knowledge dissemination tool solves this problem.
The lack of understanding by the communities as for why they need to interact with the company and what the company may offer to the community (jobs, rental payments, other taxes, deductions to the state budget) created the information vacuum and a negative attitude to its operation in general.
7. Solution to the problematic situation (what decision was made, sequence of the performance process, the decision description, solution methods, top managers’ citations, why this decision, challenges during the problem solution, etc.)
It was decided to disseminate the information about the company’s operation not just within a separate community during a session or other outreach meeting but to cover the maximum territory of the company’s presence. As a responsible business supporting the High-Quality Education sustainable development objective, first the training part was held, and then the grant applications regarding the solution of acute social and infrastructural problems in the local communities were considered. Eight online modules by areas required by project managers and government employees of the local communities were held to facilitate the quality implementation of the projects and awareness of the mutually beneficial presence of the company in their communities, namely:
– Sustainable development of communities
– Project management and project approach to the governance of territorial communities
– Leadership and team work
– Project planning and preparation of the project schedule
– Preparation of the project budget (estimated cost)
– Operations management
– Risk management
– Fundraising and peculiarities of attracting additional funding for the project implementation
Third-party experts and trainers were engaged to assess the works and select the 50 best project grant applications using the same criteria specified in the Competition Regulation:
Social significance of the project to the community
Resilience and real feasibility to implement the project (provides for the assessment and substantiation of the idea, the need to implement it for a particular community, proposed ways of implementation)
Clearly and consistently communicated material (availability of the ways to solve a social problem, description of challenges, experience of the local self-governance bodies regarding its solution, problem solution plan)
Availability of quality and quantity criteria to assess the successful implementation of a corresponding project (feasibility of the planned budget, supporting documents of the cost of tangible and intangible values, clear calculation of financial and economic indicators to be achieved due to the project implementation)
Project efficiency (details of the outcome of the project implementation, effect resulting from its implementation, detailed conclusion)
Providing the list of grantors existing in the country and the skills of communication with them, as well as raising additional investments for the community development were important decisions adopted.
“We care about the future of the communities of our presence. We are closely working side by side almost every day. We watch the communities move ahead and develop. We want every hryvnia of the local budget, including our rental payments, to be spent efficiently. It is important to constantly improve and learn to implement effective and high-quality projects. Therefore, we built our competition on training modules. Our key objective is to teach the communities efficient local governance,” said Viacheslav Chaus, Deputy Director General for Land and Social Issues of Ukrgasvydobuvannya JSC (Naftogaz) (as of May 2021).
“I want to thank Naftogaz for this powerful and large-scale training project. The knowledge obtained by the communities during the training will be transferred to the teams to come and will become a tool for the community’s sustainable development. I am happy that sustainable development became a popular initiative as it is all about what we are going to leave for the future generations. We all showed an example of the team work and partnership. The state company, the community and the business have united for a joint objective. Sustainable development is the ideas that we want to get through using these projects. The communities obtained a lot of knowledge and skills to move ahead. This competition is an example of a strategic vision,” said Daria Mustafina, founder and manager of the Institute of Partnership and Sustainable Development, which is the competition training partner, and project management and fundraising expert.
The communities propose to create a training space, improve the medical assistance in their community, create the conditions for sports activities, and solve the problems of stray animals and environmental issues of the community.
8. Outcome of the decision adopted (results of the decision adopted, how the decision affected the company’s position in the market, what would happen to the company if this decision hadn’t been adopted, detailed description of the results, maybe using key figures and indicators, lessons learnt)
Grant applications submitted by 90 participants of the training stage and the implementation of 50 projects of the winners were all within the sustainable development objectives. Following the training results, 79 grant applications were received.
The database of creative ideas of the community development projects was established, and the Top 10 Projects which were not implemented before were determined. These ideas are now disseminated among all the communities of the company’s presence. All interested applicants from 240 communities were admitted to the listening of the modules.
Following the fundraising and partnership training module, the communities implemented (participated in) approximately 10 partnership projects, including training projects (as of October 2021).
Within a short period of time (May 2021), 50 agreements signed by the heads of territorial communities were concluded and financed which represents the quantity result of establishing a trustworthy relationship with the local authorities.
In 20% of the communities, social and infrastructural projects were implemented for the first time.
The number of projects including the soft component rose by over 20% compared to the project ideas submitted by the communities at the beginning of the grant competition (before the start of the training).
Forty social and infrastructure development projects were implemented within 6 months upon signing of the cooperation agreements given the restart of the tender procedures and the procurement.
Due to the transparency, consistency and repeated communication, we have achieved the effect we did not anticipate. Moreover, upon the participants’ own initiative, publications about the project and the company started appearing on third-party online resources and official webpages of the communities. There have appeared the company’s ambassadors in the local communities who join our projects on a regular basis, represent the company as a reliable partner and invite other communities to cooperate with us. The competition techniques are used to hold the Development Energy II project among the communities with which Naftogaz has never interacted before.
The popularity of the information about the competition with the target audience, and the desire to relay and share the information in their own sources resulted in the creation of the Naftogaz official webpage on sustainable development and interaction with communities, namely the Naftogaz Sustainable Development.
Currently, a similar competition is being held in the regions where the company has never had any production in order to establish first positive communication and provide for a long-term trustworthy relationship.
The dissemination of knowledge about the company and the sustainable development principles it follows made it possible to shape up the joint points of interaction with communities. Communities realize their value for us as a company because the sustainable development objectives which became strategic for Naftogaz have been chosen specifically to meet the needs of communities.