Supporting communities

Supporting educational and social initiatives

Bekaert strives to be a loyal, responsible partner within the local communities in which it operates. We make a point of interacting with local governments in a transparent, constructive way, and we are firmly committed to complying with national legislation and collective labor agreements. Bekaert adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties and recommendations of the International Labor Organization.

In supporting local communities, Bekaert attaches high importance to learning. Educational projects, therefore, form the backbone of funding and other community-building activities. In addition to these, we also support local activities and projects for social, cultural and economic development, and for disaster relief.

Helping youth and society in Asia

Ever since 1999, Bekaert has been supporting the Shenyang Enlighten Intelligence Kindergarten. This organization provides preschool education to both disabled and non-disabled children.

In China Bekaert provided financial support to the Gift of Sight program established by the China Foundation for Disabled Persons (CFDP) and aimed at restoring sight to the visually impaired. The money went to a special fund which finances surgery aimed at restoring sight for people suffering from cataract blindness, and at fighting poverty caused by this condition. Also in 2010, through the Bekaert University Scholarship Program, we supported talented students from three top level institutions: Xi’an Jiao Tong University, University of Science and Technology Beijing, and Harbin Institute of Technology.

With the funds donated by Bekaert, a brand-new 6 200 m2 playground was completed in 2010 for the Weihai Welfare Home for Children in the city of Weihai. This project is one of Bekaert’s initiatives, aimed at contributing to the wellbeing of orphans and disabled children in the local community.

Also in the city of Weihai, Bekaert donated CNY 50 000 to the Xi Yuan School for the construction of a children’s recreation activity center, a place where kids can enrich their extracurricular life, develop their reading skills, and practice a wide range of sports activities. The opening ceremony of the ‘Children’s Recreation Activity Center for Migrants Family’ of the Xi Yuan School was held in June 2010.

In 2010, we donated advanced electrical teaching equipments for each classroom. The aim is to help disabled children learn easily and efficiently. On the celebration of Children’s Day, Bekaert also donated toys and teaching aids to the children.

China shows appreciation for Bekaert’s community support

  • Our tire cord plant in Weihai was awarded the title of ‘Model Enterprise in harmony and sustainability’ by the Working Committee and the Administrative Committee of the Weihai Economical & Technological Development Zone
  • The Bekaert Asia Headquarters received from the Red Cross Society of China, Shanghai Branch, a ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ in recognition of its contribution to and support for the Red Cross services and humanitarian aid and relief.
  • Bert De Graeve, CEO of Bekaert, was awarded the title of ‘Honorable citizen of Shanghai’ by the Shanghai municipality.

North America

In the Rogers (U.S.) plant, we participated in the Head Start program, the country’s most successful, longest-running, national school readiness program. It provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to disadvantaged children and their families.

Throughout 2010 the teams in Rogers raised money through fundraising to buy Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children.

Latin America

Peru

In 2010 our Peruvian subsidiary Prodac entered into an alliance with two institutions: Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University and Empresarios por la Educación. These have developed an overall methodology to improve the way public school teachers teach reading and writing skills. Prodac co-financed this project.

In another project in Peru, our Prodac plant contributed funds to the Summer School of the nearby Sarita Colonia community. The Sarita Colonia Summer School offers children between five and seventeen free courses to develop their arts and sports abilities.

The ‘Reading to grow’ program is based on the strength of abilities of public teachers. By improving teaching methods, children learn to write & read fluently.

In addition, Prodac received recognition from Global Compact, the United Nations’ international network that supports a shared set of principles on environment, labor and human rights, for its ‘Tu Casa’ program. The program helps its employees and families with limited economic resources find a place to live.

Colombia

Proalco, our subsidiary in Colombia, developed in 2010 the environmental training and awareness program ‘Niños defensores del Agua/Our children as water defenders’ in cooperation with the regional environment authority CAR. The program promotes the sustainable use of natural resources.

Through events and conferences we raised the awareness of some 150 children of our plant’s employees on environmental care. In an awareness workshop, the children learned about caring for natural resources, by answering questions such as “Why is water essential for life and how can we use and save water and energy in our home?”

During the first stage of this program, children controlled water and energy consumption in their homes with the help of an informative notebook, containing tips on how to reduce water and energy usage. An award was given to the two families showing the best decrease in energy and water consumption, thereby consolidating also at family level the children’s newly acquired resource savings culture.

Brazil

In Brazil, Bekaert is a partner in the Welding City program, which aims at training youth at risk in welding methods so that they can enter the labor market. The first group of students graduated in February 2010.

Belgo Bekaert Arames collaborates closely with SENAI, the National Service for Industrial Training and with the communities which are home to a lot of socially vulnerable youth. SENAI trains these youngsters in specific professions such as welding. Since there is no shortage of job opportunities for skilled welders in Brazil, these young people are able to find work matching their qualifications faster after completing the training. Bekaert provides the materials used during the training sessions.

Also in Brazil, Bekaert partnered with APAE, an association of parents and friends of children with special needs. Since separate schools for disabled children do not exist in Brazil, teachers are often not qualified to interact appropriately with these children. The aim of the cooperation program is to prepare teachers to deal with and stimulate the interaction between the special needs children and their non-disabled schoolmates. Through donations, Bekaert supports lectures, workshops and training courses. 35 teachers were trained in 2010.

Still in Brazil, Bekaert donated funds to sponsor a European tour of the Orquestra Jovem de Contagem, a project designed to train 250 young people as professional musicians or music teachers. The main objective here is to keep the children and adolescents off the street where they run the risk of getting involved in drugs and/or gangs.

Contributing with our products and know-how

Anticipating earthquakes: training to improve housing construction in Ecuador

In Ecuador, Ideal Alambrec Bekaert produced and distributed a construction manual to introduce the concept of seismic-resistant building and encourage builders to follow safety rules during construction.

Since two thirds of all houses in Ecuador are built according to less-formal processes and because the country is a high-risk seismic region, the Construction Guide can offer useful best practices and help low-income families build a safer home.

The Construction Guide provides building instructions and guidelines, adequate and safe practices for the construction process and thirteen construction models for houses ranging between 36m2 and 120m2, including blue prints and construction tables. It is distributed during a series of workshops that Ideal Alambrec Bekaert organizes throughout the country over a period of one year. The goal is to train a total of 2 000 builders.

HR team: rolling up their sleeves for a safe playground

Seizing the opportunity of our European HR meeting in France in 2010, Bekaert linked its team building event to a contribution to a social organization. We opted for the Institut médico-éducatif (IME) in Clairefontaine (France) which provides guidance to mentally and physically disabled children. A full day’s team building activity involved 40 of Bekaert’s HR employees building a safe playground from scratch.

This was a great experience for the HR team, as they were able to combine growing as a team with contributing to society. With this project Bekaert wants to stimulate initiatives that contribute to the society in which we live, as an alternative to traditional team building events.

Donation of window film in China

In 2010 Bekaert and the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) renewed their long-running partnership. As a result, Bekaert donated Solar Gard® window film to the CEIBS new Beijing campus.

Not only will the window film significantly reduce the school’s energy usage in Beijing, it will also trim down its heating and cooling expenses. As part of the partnership agreement, Bekaert will also act as a mentor for the CEIBS Green Campus Initiative and other programs emphasizing energy efficiency, social responsibility, and ‘green innovation’.

In April 2010 Bekaert, together with other CEIBS Corporate Partners, was honored for its support of the new Beijing campus.

Still in China, Bekaert actively supported the construction of the Belgium-EU Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai through advice and coordination and by supplying Bekaert products such as Dramix® steel fibers for concrete reinforcement and solar control window films.

Encouraging volunteering

In Peru Bekaert supports the ‘Programa Voluntades de Acero’, a corporate volunteering program established in 2008 by Prodac employees with the help of the organization ‘Volunteer Work’.

The program is intended to promote and support the volunteering practice among employees. During volunteering days, Prodac employees got to know the children involved in the ‘Reading to grow’ project, valued their work, and entertained them with reading and writing related activities.

‘Citizens of Tomorrow’ is another project supported by Bekaert in Brazil. In 2010 Bekaert and its employees again raised funds for several social initiatives from the ‘Pro Voluntario’ Program, through clothing and blood donations for instance. Some 150 employees volunteered, raising enough money to help a total of 700 people.

Disaster relief

Disaster relief

If 2009 was the year of the global financial crisis, 2010 definitely was the year of natural disasters, affecting the lives of millions of people around the globe. Earthquakes shook Haiti, Chile, Turkey, Mexico and China. Severe flooding left destruction and desolation in its wake in Peru, France, Brazil and Indonesia.

Thanks to its worldwide presence, Bekaert did not hesitate to set the wheels of its corporate social responsibility program in motion whenever it learned that employees and their families were affected. We invited everyone in the Bekaert Group to assist the victims of the severe earthquake in Chile and the devastating floods in Indonesia.

Bekaert launched the better together campaign ‘Today I work for my colleagues in Chile’, a call for all Bekaert employees and entities worldwide to donate the equivalent of one or more hours’ salary to help the Bekaert earthquake victims. The initiative to help finance the reconstruction and refurbishing of the employees’ houses was later expanded to support Indonesian colleagues affected by the devastating floods in the Karawang area.

Overall, € 274 772 was collected. Our action proved inspirational beyond our expectations: we also received contributions from many members of the Bekaert family, our Board of Directors, and from various Bekaert associations, retired employees and business partners.

This amount was doubled by Bekaert at the corporate level to a round figure of € 550 000. This fantastic result perfectly illustrated the fact that better together are words we put into practice when our colleagues are in need.

After Qinghai Province in China was hit by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on 14 April 2010, Bekaert initiated an employee donation program to support the disaster relief efforts for victims in the Yushu county.

Over 7 900 Bekaert employees in China made a donation, totaling an amount of CNY 487 759. The money raised in Bekaert's plants in Jiangyin, Shenyang, Weihai, Wuxi, Suzhou, Chongqing, Huizhou and Shanghai was doubled by Bekaert at the regional corporate level to reach the round figure of CNY 1 million. The donations were made available for the disaster relief program of the Yushu victims via the China Red Cross organization.

better together in Chile disaster relief

In the middle of the night on 27 February 2010, Chile was awakened by an earthquake of magnitude 8.8 on the Richter scale, with its epicenter in Concepción. Hundreds of aftershocks followed, one reaching a magnitude of 7.2 on 11 March.

In Santiago, four Bekaert joint venture plants suffered rather limited damage: Prodalam, Acma, Acmanet and Prodinsa. Inchalam, the largest production plant in Concepción, was affected the most: roofs and walls, infrastructure and utilities and production lines were damaged.

We immediately started repair works, thus showing the resilience of our organization. Customers and suppliers were contacted to streamline operations. In a minimum of time we resumed normal activity.

In the first days after the earthquake, teams from the Bekaert joint venture in Santiago helped their colleagues in Concepción by organizing water and food supply convoys. Clothes and mattresses were brought to the employees who had lost everything. Actions to search for missing colleagues were set up.

Employees who immediately needed relocation to safer rented houses were issued temporarily loans. Damage assessments were made and technical support for reconstruction ensured. Although the Bekaert employees in Chile were still going through difficult times themselves, they started helping other victims too by volunteering to build emergency housing for those who were spending their nights in tents.

Chile: donations put to immediate use

In Chile, a total of 155 employees in all of the Bekaert companies sustained material damage as a result of the earthquake, most of them in Concepción. 65% of them suffered light to moderate damage, 20% dealt with severe or irreparable damage and 15% were hit by the subsequent floods.

With the € 500 000 donation we were able to cover the costs of reconstructing and refurbishing the employees’ houses. This allowed families who had suffered total loss and were not covered by insurance to move into newly built houses. Other employees’ houses were repaired under strict technical supervision.

The Karawang floods: a personal account by a Bekaert employee

In Indonesia heavy rainfalls had caused the Jatiluhur water reservoir dam to overflow and subsequently the River Citarum burst its banks. As the Karawang area was flooded with water reaching levels up to three meters, 112 Bekaert employees and their families suffered property damage and many of them had to be evacuated. This is the story of Virmansyah, employee of PT Bekaert Indonesia and his wife Desi.

“Every year the Citarum River reaches high water levels, but this time the dike could not stop the river from bursting its banks and reaching the local people’s homes. Some 40% of the Karawang area was flooded.

“We were evacuated from our home. Luckily we were taken in at the home of an HR colleague.

Employees who were struck by the floods received ample support from Bekaert in the form of cleaning up, evacuation, repainting houses or alternative housing. But Bekaert also helped by offering food and drinking water, replacing furniture and providing medical care.

The initial shock of the floods was huge. People were generally quite disheartened. But that soon changed when we saw that Bekaert was helping all of its employees. In Indonesia we say ‘gotong royong’ when referring to working together hand in hand to achieve a goal. This concept is well known in Indonesian culture and in the corporate culture at Bekaert. It was amazing to see such a level of volunteering and how much colleagues were ready to lend a hand to anyone who needed it.”

The € 50 000 that was collected through the Bekaert fund-raising initiative was sufficient to offset entirely the temporary loans issued for immediate support.


  • Share
  • Print