Foreign firms reach out to
Herald, June 12, 2004
number of multinational companies are offering Koreans more than their products
by lending a helping hand in the education sector and offering scholarships
and vocational training programs.
The increasing number of foreign
companies now involved with donations is signaling a new corporate-community
culture, with the programs not only helping society, but also improving the
image of their businesses.
The trend grew after the 1997
financial crisis in Korea, which caused a rapid rise in unemployment and underemployment.
One of the first organizations
to cut the tape was the American Chamber of Commerce, which raised about $1
million in 2000 and started the Partners for the Future Foundation, a non-profit
The foundation provides vocational
training, job fairs, internship programs and scholarships for the underprivileged.
"Having suffered from polio
as a child, I still cannot use my legs freely. AMCHAM`s gift of a name-stamp
carving machine and a watch repair machine has been a tremendous help to my
life. I cannot thank them enough," said Jung-ho Kim, a graduate of Home
of Love, a program introduced here by the Partners for Future Foundation.
Now among the frontrunners is
Pfizer Korea, a world leader in pharmaceuticals, which started its "Scholarship
of Love" in September 2002.
Pfizer officials said the program
was established to help students in need of financial aid due to economic difficulties
following the nation`s long-term economic slump.
The scholarship is generated through
individual contributions from employees, who volunteer to subtract a certain
amount from their pay on a monthly basis. Pfizer then gives an equal amount
to the donation from the workers which is added into the foundation.
Through this program, Pfizer Korea
said it has given more than 100 million won worth of scholarships to about 10
students each year. This year, 11 students have benefited from the program so
The donations are made through
the Partners for the Future Foundation. Other multinational companies, such
as Proctor & Gamble Korea and AIG General Insurance, later joined in by
adopting the joint management-worker donation system.
"Raising a promising youth
society is fundamentally contributing to the growth of Korean society,"
said Curtis Andrews, president of Pfizer Korea.
Hewlett-Packard is also reaching
the non-profit sector by conducting an educational-industrial service with Korean
universities to develop the local information industry.
Last year, HP contributed 200
million won worth of personal computers, servers and network devices to Seoul
National University to establish the "HP Multimedia lecture room."
The company also runs internship programs as well as participating in the curriculum
by providing special lectures based on its high-tech expertise.
Another company joining the wave
of donations is DaimlerChrysler Korea, which provides scholarships to both Korean
and U.S. soldiers stationed here. It said it will give about $10,000 worth of
scholarships to selected beneficiaries each year.
Toyota Motor Korea is reaching
out to the cultural sector by opening music, education and sports-related programs
such as Toyota Classic, Youth for Understanding Korea training camps, Lexus
Charity Golf, concerts and other educational-industrial projects.
Toyota officials said they have
conducted donation programs under the philosophy of becoming a "good corporate
citizen" since the company entered the Korean market.
By Lee Joo-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)