Sustainability approach is organically integrated in Russian Agricultural Bank’s core business and operations. The Bank’s sustainable business practices link back to its mission, vision, and values and are targeted at ensuring national agribusiness development, the country’s food security, achieving the status of Russia as the world’s leading food producer and exporter, increasing financial literacy and upgrading the overall welfare of the rural population. This is achieved through supporting SMEs, developing rural territories and mid-sized cities, promoting innovations and resource-efficient technologies in agribusiness, facilitating investments and improving investment climate, diversifying the product range, increasing access and affordability of high quality financial services.
Financial support of SMEs
The Russian Government attaches special importance to the support of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs heat up competition and prevent monopolization in a large number of spheres.
As part of the National project “Small and Mid-sized Entrepreneurship and the Support for Business Initiatives"1 the Government has approved a federal project "Small and medium-sized business and support for individual entrepreneurial initiatives" with total allocations of RUB 37.4 billion.
Russian Agricultural Bank views activity of SMEs as an area of unlocking prospects and growth drivers for the national economy. Therefore, the Bank puts special focus on financial support of SMEs. Currently, Russian Agricultural Bank offers more than 30 lending programs tailored for this business segment. Since the start of operations (data on SMEs is tracked since 2008) the Bank has provided more than RUB 3.2 trillion for SMEs development, with more than RUB 2.2 billion provided to agribusiness SMEs.
In 2019, the Bank embarked on a new mechanism of state support of small and medium business with the interest rate capped at 8.5% p.a. The program measures prioritize SME projects in Russian priority industries, incl. agribusiness. The program will expire in 2024.
Partnership programmes for SMEs
Russian Agricultural Bank develops partnership programmes with domestic manufacturers to create a favourable business environment in Russia and has been particularly successful in engaging with the major domestic producers that are establishing a new technology base for SMEs and other sectors. These programmes help cut costs on equipment purchases for entrepreneurs who can buy cheaper, take out smaller loans and pay less interest.
Enhancing access to financing
In almost every region Russian Agricultural Bank provides financial support to entrepreneurs employed in trade, tourism, household services, and other services not directly related to agribusiness. Thanks to this, the commercial sector, in fact, is also engaged in developing rural territories.
In line with the national development priorities, the Bank places special focus on financing: promising investment projects in the Far East that facilitate better social and economic conditions in the regions and enhanced environmental protection.
Engagement with local communities and authorities
Russian Agricultural Bank leverages its countrywide footprint and strengthens liaisons with regional authorities, SME financing funds and guarantee agencies in the territories in which it is present to prepare and implement regional development strategies and federal policies in economic, social, educational and other spheres.
Involvement in Government programs
Playing a pivotal role in agribusiness financial support, Russian Agricultural Bank, for more than 15 years now, has participated in the government sustainability programs focused on social aspects.
The State Program encompasses a number of key focus areas: providing consumers with safe agricultural products and foodstuffs; enhancing competitiveness of the domestic produce in internal and external markets; ensuring sustainable development of rural areas, employment of rural residents, upgrading living standards and qualification; preservation and reproduction of natural resources used in agriculture.
Lending for various purposes, such as: machinery, livestock, grain, fuel, and fertilizers purchases, land, warehouses and facilities lease with priority given to agribusiness producers, farmers, agricultural consumer cooperatives, food processing companies, fisheries and aquaculture producers, markets and shopping facilities;
Financing seasonal field works.The Bank accounts for 70.4% of total seasonal field works financing, with RUB 381 billion in loans issued for this purpose in 2019;
Lending to agricultural credit and consumer cooperatives. This type of support contributes to closer cooperation and integration in rural areas. Credit and consumer cooperatives are an important vehicle for rural financial stability;
Financing investment projects for constructing and upgrading greenhouses, livestock and fish breeding facilities. Since 2013 the Bank has financed 1,107 agribusiness investment projects with total financing amounting to RUB 674 billion. Lending disbursed by the Bank under such projects amounted to RUB 492 billion.
Developing all forms of small business, including family-operated farms and startups. Fostering agribusiness startups creates new jobs for young professionals and qualified personnel retention in rural areas;
Agribusiness subsidized lending programme (Government decree No. 1528) As part of this procedure in 2019 the Bank provided RUB 794.5 billion to agribusiness producers. Under the agribusiness soft lending programme Russian Agricultural Bank lends at maximum 5% p.a. Subsidies are paid directly to banks, which gives farmers easier access to state support. To launch the programme, Russian Agricultural Bank was the first to sign an agreement with the Russian Ministry of Agriculture under Russian Government’s Decree No 1528 dated 18 January 2017;
Support of export-oriented businesses. Providing customers with the opportunity to work within the framework of the Eurasia Economic Union via its sales and service channels. The Bank’s efforts in this area contributed to national foodstuffs and raw materials exports reaching USD 25.5 billion in 2019, outperforming the target of USD 24 billion. Russian Agricultural Bank issued RUB 241.5 billion in loans to export-oriented agribusinesses which is 41.2% above as compared to 2018 (RUB 198.6 billion). Russian Agricultural Bank has signed a framework agreement with Russian Export Center JSC aimed at expanding financial support to Russian non-commodity exporters. The agreement will enable the Bank to provide financing at subsidized interest rates. The Bank’s expenses will be partially reimbursed from the federal budget.
The Bank is actively involved in implementing special purpose federal subprograms:
Integrated development of rural areas. This program is aimed at upgrading living standards, stimulating investments in agribusiness, strengthening positive attitudes towards rural life and developing non-agricultural production and employment; promoting the creation of hi-tech employment opportunities.
State program for construction development. The program is aimed at support of residential construction for certain categories of citizens, support of solvent demand for housing, enhancing quality of utility services. As part of this program, the Bank is involved in the sub-program ‘State subsidized mortgage lending’. Moreover, the Bank is a participant of other sub-programs by financing development projects aimed at providing affordable and comfortable housing to Russian citizens and industrial projects designed to provide high-quality utility services.
Subsidized SME lending under (Government Decree No. 1764). The program is aligned with the federal project Improving Access to Finance for SMEs, Including Soft Financing (which is part of the nation-wide project Small and Medium Businesses and Support for Business Initiatives). The programme caps the final subsidized rate at 8.5 per cent per annum for the borrower and covers SMEs in prioritized sectors, including agribusiness.
Increasing competitiveness of domestic agricultural produce (Government decree No. 512). In 2019, the Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture signed an Agreement stipulating subsidized lending to agribusinesses as part of the Government Resolution No 512 dated 26.04.2019. The new procedure for providing subsidies is aimed at increasing competitiveness of domestic agricultural foodstuffs and growing the output through better marketability.
Increasing product diversification and affordability
Operating through its widespread branch network present both in large and smaller urban and rural communities, the Bank takes efforts towards enhancing the quality of services and designing a highly demanded and well-balanced product offering, satisfying the needs of various customer segments.
Russian Agricultural Bank developed special product offerings incorporating attractive terms for pensioners, household plot owners, military servicemen and public sector employees.
The Bank's reputation is directly linked with its image and customer perception. To decide whether the Bank is trustworthy and its services are good value for money, the customer assesses such parameters as impressions of the first contact / visit, service quality, staff skills, office design / content and resolution time.
In 2019 Russian Agricultural Bank started to deliver the Concept for Quality Management System adopted in late 2018. The Bank has set for itself a strategic target to become a leader in customer experience by securing a long-term competitive advantage through excellent customer experience and by wide-ranging efforts to meet customer needs and boost customer loyalty.
Mobilizing the inflow of foreign investments
Russian Agricultural Bank’s international operations facilitate the inflow of foreign investments into the Russian financial and agricultural sector. In 2019, Russian Agricultural Bank and China Overseas Development Association (CODA) signed a Cooperation agreement for implementation of investment projects in Russian agribusiness. The Agreement is aimed at promoting long term cooperation between the parties in design, implementation and support of investment projects in various agribusiness sub-sectors. The purpose is to facilitate foodstuffs output and promote their exports to China.
Being guided by the principle of zero tolerance to corruption and abiding by the anticorruption laws, the Bank continuously pursues respective policies and takes steps towards higher efficiency of preventing corruption. The work done to this effect comprises:
- informing staff on restrictions, bans and requirements, existing in this field;
- monitoring how staff comply with the restrictions, bans and requirements;
- creates negative attitude towards corruption among employees.
The Bank works towards making its purchasing processes transparent, efficient and non-discriminatory prevents unreasonable restraints on competition and promotes compliance with the Russian Federal Procurement Law. The Bank publishes information on its procurement activities online at www.zakupki.gov.ru. To encourage fair competition, as well as cost optimization, the Bank conducts electronic procurement procedures via auctions/requests for proposals and other methods.
Internal social policies
Internal social policies implemented at Russian Agricultural Bank are designed to recognize employees’ merits and fairly assess their contribution to achieving tasks set by the shareholder. The Bank’s non-financial motivation includes: commendations, letters of appreciation and other incentives awarded to its most effective employees. The Bank adheres to its principles of creating a favorable working environment, supportive of healthy lifestyle practices and skill development for its employees. In its internal social policy, the Bank promotes personnel protection based on principles of responsibility, non-discrimination and mutual respect. The Bank’s employees are eligible for voluntary medical insurance, occupational accident insurance and corporate retirement benefits.
Reducing environmental impact
Russian Agricultural Bank has adopted and implements voluntary environmental responsibility principles to preserve and restore natural resources, and to reduce the environmental footprint from the Bank’s activities, as well as to raise social responsibility awareness.
Russian Agricultural Bank as the key lender to Russian agribusiness supports projects targeted at resource conservation, energy efficiency and support of nature conservation activities. Projects in plant breeding are aimed at increasing the efficient use of land, water and other natural resources. Projects in livestock breeding (structured as investments and project finance) comply with the latest environmental safety standards, comprise waste recycling and utilization stages while minimizing the negative impact on environment.
The Bank’s operations are aligned with the goals and tasks of the national Project “Ecology” launched in late 2018 under the Direction of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology.
Volunteer projects evidence that the Bank’s staff upholds and embraces the Bank’s commitment to socially responsible practices. The Bank actively engages its staff in volunteer projects benefiting local communities. The key projects that have helped enhance the Bank’s corporate values are the Donor’s Day, Volunteer Descent and Financial Literacy. The Volunteer Descent project supports socially-oriented organizations such as orphanages, II WW veterans, elderly people, children without parental custody, Donor Days and ecology related initiatives.
Sponsorship and Charity
As a corporate citizen committed to meeting societal needs and expectations, Russian Agricultural Bank extends tangible help to local communities via charitable activities, sponsorships and donations. The Bank promotes philanthropic activities with emphasis on key priorities of Russia’s social and economic development and defined by the Bank shareholders. Russian Agricultural Bank is engaged in philanthropic activities in five key areas relating to community support, education, spiritual education, sports and physical education; protection of environment and biodiversity.
Protection of environment and biodiversity
The Bank views protection of environment and engendered species as a civic duty for responsible corporations. In 2019 the Bank proceeded with carrying out the Amur Tiger Protection Project in cooperation with an autonomous non-commercial organization “Amur Tiger Center”. Also the Bank sponsored a non-profit organization involved in maintaining the Far Eastern leopard population and a regional fund for arranging roundtables on aquaculture issues. Russian Agricultural Bank became the primary sponsor of the mass media campaign which effectively combined the resources of a commercial and non-profit entity to increase the number of Amur tigers in Russia and expand their habitat. The large-scale campaign was for the above purposes involved in such mass media channels as public transportation, print and electronic publications.
As part of “Financial support of individuals” the Bank provided financial aid to a state-financed institution supervising elderly people and a health care institution, two religious establishments, two non-profit funds and a veterans’ organization, children’s rehabilitation center, agricultural professional union. As part of “Sports and physical culture” the Bank provided financial aid to a regional non-governmental fund, non-profit fund of a sports society, seven non-profit sports organizations and two charity funds to promote popular sports in Russia.
The Bank’s Corporate University adds to the positive social impact of its core operations and its CSR activities by arranging financial literacy seminars for the Bank’s clients, business community and local authorities, people employed in agribusiness, household plot owners, schoolchildren, students and general public.
Support of industry-specific mass media and professional forums
As part of the initiative Russian Agricultural Bank has sponsored TV shows and numerous large specialized events that raise awareness of agricultural issues. Putting priority on digital transformation the Bank also supports IT-related events.
Such projects in line with the Bank’s core specialization have a positive impact on building the Bank’s image among wider society and business and government elites.
Year after year Russian Agricultural Bank confirms its unwavering commitment to the CSR policies and performing its pivotal role of supporting prioritized economic sectors and various customer segments in urban and rural territories, thereby facilitating the resolution of broader social tasks leading to Russia’s economic prosperity.
1National Priority Projects developed according to the Presidential Order No 204 dated 7 May 2018 “On the National Goals and Strategic Tasks of Development of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2024”.
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