British American Tobacco Korea is shoring up its social responsibility efforts through community services and funds for social enterprises and cultural foundations.
The multinational group’s local unit said it has been striving to map out campaigns that contribute to Korean society, offering more than token gestures.
“Given that cigarettes may be a subject to public debate, the company is striving to boost social investment based on our responsibilities for society,” BAT said in a statement.
BAT Korea employees help build a house for low-income families in South Gyeongsang Province. (BAT Korea)
Big Love is a volunteer corps created in 2000 by the company’s employees. Members of 24 operations around the country are actively participating in delivering coal briquettes to seniors living alone, making kimchi and building houses for needy neighborhoods, BAT said.
In 2009, the tobacco maker launched a fund to back prospective social enterprises in collaboration with the Working Together Foundation, a non-profit organization.
Under the scheme, BAT takes applications and picks innovative concepts to provide funds and share business know-how for a year until they become designated as a social company by the government.
“The project is the first of its kind among all programs designed to bolster social enterprises in Korea,” a company official said. “We’ve received good reviews that it embraces a distinct, innovative model.”
In South Gyeongsang Province, where its cigarette-making plant is located, BAT subsidizes the provincial Federation of Artistic and Cultural Organizations, a regional arts society. The initiative set out nine years ago aiming to “balance growth of local economy and culture.”
On the education front, the firm hosts campaigns to prevent youth smoking and leadership seminars for college juniors and seniors.
For such efforts, BAT has won a number of awards from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as well as social welfare councils in South Gyeongsang Province and Jeju.
“Based on our CSR strategy, BAT Korea supports practical programs to contribute to society and implement differentiated ways of adding value to the community,” said Kim Hyoung-min, executive director of the corporate and regulatory affairs division.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)