Business organizations and chambers of commerce have played an important role in connecting companies with charities in Vietnam, especially amid the challenging period of post COVID-19 and heavy flooding in the central region.
While the need for support is rising, enterprises who are capable of funding meaningful activities are also struggling to survive COVID-19 challenges and resume their community policies.
On the occasion of its fundraising marathon Fun Run 2020, which will take place on Sunday, Brian Bulloch, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce Vietnam (BritCham Vietnam), sat down for an interview with Tuoi Tre News on Thursday about the connection between corporates and the community amid crises.
Bulloch also stressed the importance of the intermediary role of business groups and chambers of commerce in this situation.
This is the 20th year in a row for BritCham Vietnam Fun Run. So how have things changed over the time?
The fundraising has changed a lot over the last 20 years, it started out in a small park and in the heart of the city. It has changed locations. It has grown in size year after year. However, the one thing that remains constant is the incredible support from our partner companies who are providing the funds to help our charity fund. They are communities of British companies and other companies in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as in Hanoi.
Brian Bulloch, executive director of Britcham Vietnam, discusses the struggle to set up the Fun Run event during the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam. Video: Quang Dinh - Linh To / Tuoi Tre News
It has been hard to organize outdoor events during this particular period, so why did BritCham Vietnam decide to go ahead with the Fun Run?
It has been hard and difficult for a lot of companies and organizations. In fact, they have had to reduce funding. We, however, don't want that to stop us from committing to this effort that we do every year. We feel very committed to raising these funds and continuing this good work.
To be honest, we had some refusals to commit, and that is okay. We just worked harder. We found more companies and we dug deeper and convinced them.
We also follow the guidelines from the government. We are expecting maybe a smaller turnout this year, not because people don't want to do it but people are aware of the pandemic. Fortunately, it has not affected our funding, which is fabulous.
Brian Bulloch, executive director of Britcham Vietnam, discusses the growth of Fun Run Charity in the last 20 years. Video: Quang Dinh - Linh To / Tuoi Tre News
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a new policy among the business community. But, as many businesses have to tighten their budget to survive the COVID-19 crisis, have they changed the way they fulfill this responsibility?
I think they have become more cautious because of their shrinking financial resources and possible huge investment needed in the future. The crisis has greatly disordered socioeconomic situations in the country, so they must carefully consider where their CSR funds should go to.
One reason for businesses to choose to cooperate with us is that we have vetted those organizations, and so they don’t have to second guess if that is a legitimate charity or not. First of all, we'll identify who they are, what their priorities are, what they need funding for, along with some background checks. Then, applications from the charities will be reviewed by numerous charity committee members of ours.
Now, we have some fantastic charities such as Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, Bong Sen Scholarship, Christina Noble Children's Fund, Saigon Children's Charity.
The second thing is that fundraising is a collective effort from multiple companies. We actually have a very strong collection thanks to groups of companies that participate.
|Brian Bulloch, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce Vietnam, speaks during an interview with Tuoi Tre News in Ho Chi Minh City on November 12, 2020. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre News|
Are there differences between a company that practices CSR by itself and one joining hands with business groups and chambers of commerce, such as BritCham Vietnam?
I think that we can help raise awareness of the need through our network, our businesses and our members of the chamber. We can leverage that network of businesses as well as other connections we have. So, we can amplify the support for the region if we dedicate efforts.
It is solidarity. Our advantage is that they can trust us. We have a lot of good intentions. We want to continue to build that support. It continues because every year we do the Fun Run and some other charitable events, which build on themselves each year.
Do business groups and chambers of commerce aim at serving particular vulnerable groups?
We don’t exclude any groups but recently, we look at areas such as health, education, those in need, and other vulnerable groups in the society. Most recently, we're also paying attention to disaster recovery like the recent flooding in the central region of Vietnam. We try to balance that, and we have a good set of categories. For example, we are supporting organizations that are helping children who couldn't go to school because of flooding earlier. They are vulnerable in those situations.
Also, we are processing applications from organizations to support because the flooding has caused a long-term effect on the region. We are confident that our funding will be welcomed and needed still.