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“Without a significant change of thinking and a better understanding of the opportunities that integration with Asia can bring to Russia, development will be limited.”

Rusal corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Rusal takes corporate social responsibility (CSR) extremely seriously, as in the public-private partnership undertaken in Guinea in the wake of the Ebola crisis.

Saving lives, preventing further devastation wrought by Ebola and supporting the development of a vaccine to stop the disease in future, the centre Rusal built Guinea in the wake of Ebola is a model in how public-private partnerships and CSR can be transformative.

While Rusal’s response to the chaos that Ebola wrought may have been remarkable with regards to the speed at which a high-functioning public-private partnership was initiated, it is no surprise that Rusal was able to act so quickly and so effectively.

Masterminding public-private partnerships that make a real difference to economies, communities and even individual lives are part of the company’s lifeblood. Wherever Rusal operates, it aims to improve lives as part of its commitment to CSR.

How Rusal pursues CSR through public-private partnerships

The bulk of Rusal’s CSR activity is aimed at improving living standards and creating change in places where the company operates, using the tried and tested public-private partnership model.

The company works with local stakeholders, officials from regional and municipal authorities, local organizations, projects participants and those living in the communities themselves in pursuing its CSR initiatives and creating sustainable change.

As was the case with Rusal’s response to the Guinea Ebola crisis – where the Guinean people had a very clear and urgent requirement for action to be taken to prevent the spread of Ebola  – the shape that these CSR initiatives take is largely informed by what communities need.

To this end, Rusal’s CSR initiatives are largely focused in the following areas: social infrastructure and urban environment; education; sport and healthy lifestyle; involvement of residents in joint volunteer projects and socially useful activities; and social entrepreneurship and assistance to socially vulnerable groups.

Rusal invests significant sums in its public-private partnerships. For example, in 2015, Rusal directly funded its social programs with some RUB 90.2 million. Once co-financing by other partners was taken into account, the sum invested socially was RUB 167 million. Undoubtedly, the sums invested have a multiplier effect. For every ruble invested in CSR, more is generated through the economic outcomes that result from better education, better healthcare and increased opportunity.

Rusal’s CSR also places emphasis on empowering the next generation of social entrepreneurs, focusing on public-private partnerships. In March 2013, the Centers of innovation in the Social Sphere (CISS) were opened in the Krasnoyarsk, Sverdlovsk and Irkutsk regions of Russia, funded by Rusal and the Russian Agency of Strategic Initiatives. This not only provides a regional networking infrastructure for social entrepreneurs interested in implementing public-private partnerships, it also raises awareness of social entrepreneurship.

Rusal’s CSR work and its public-private partnerships are genuinely life changing. In responding to the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, a well-executed public-private partnership immediately helped prevent deaths from the disease.

Rusal stepped in to assist Guinea as it struggled to deal with the consequences of the devastating virus. Rusal is one of the country’s largest private employers, and has a significant impact on public life in the country. When Ebola began to spread through the country in late 2013, it was not just Rusal’s operations in the country that were threatened; Ebola threatened the lives of its employees.

Rusal already knew from many of its other CSR activities that public-private partnerships, which leverage funding and other support from private businesses to solve social challenges, can be highly effective. It immediately sought to implement one in the country,  and fast.

Rusal CSR: using a public-private partnership to tackle Ebola

In response to the Ebola epidemic, Rusal initiated a public-private partnership with the Russian and Guinean government and began the construction of the Centre for Epidemic and Microbiological Research and Treatment (CEMRT) at a cost of $10 million. Rusal was the only business to initiate such a public-private partnership in response to the spread of Ebola in Guinea.

Rusal’s centre in Guinea, which took just 50 days to build, was designed by Rusal specialists with assistance from Rospotrebnadzor (the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing) scientists. Located at the former Soviet-Guinean Institute Pasteur in Kindia, the centre was furnished with some of the most high-tech medical equipment on the market.

At the outside, the CEMRT had two main purposes. First, it would provide frontline support to medics trying to prevent the spread of Ebola through Guinea. Second, it would act as a crucial hub for furthering what we know about Ebola and other devastating communicable diseases – improving methods of detection, treatment and prevention.

The impact of Rusal’s CSR, centred on constructing the CEMRT in Guinea, was astonishing. In fact, the CEMRT has been made a medical institution of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Guinea and is widely recognised as one of the leading clinics in West Africa. Of those who visited CEMRT to receive treatment for Ebola, 62.5% recovered – the best response rate in Guinea.

The centre also acted as the nerve centre of the battle to find a vaccine for Ebola. World-leading scientists were able to visit the centre to work with real virological materials as part of their research into creating a vaccine for Ebola. And this research bore fruit. In 2015, a Russian vaccine, Evak Combi, was registered. In July 2017, 1,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine were sent to Guinea to be administered at the Rusal centre.

The CEMRT centre built by Rusal as part of its CSR efforts is an exemplar for just how effective public-private partnerships can be. Rusal worked with Guinea save lives and create a new model for tackling communicable diseases in the future.