Social responsibility and charity

Our approach to charity

Charitable activities are an integral part of our culture and corporate social responsibility. In line with the sustainability principles set out in the Social Charter of Russian Business, we are committed to contributing to social well-being, including in local communities across our footprint

Our Charity Policy is the key document governing MegaFon’s charitable activities. The Charity Policy sets out the goals and objectives of MegaFon’s charitable activities and the principles and procedure for charitable project selection, and outlines the stakeholder engagement process and many other aspects.

In line with its Charity Policy, MegaFon provides support to charities only. It does not support individuals, businesses, religious organisations, public authorities or officials, political organisations, parties or movements, or candidates running for national, regional or local elected offices.

Charity expenses amounted to RUB 429.7 million in 2021, with more than 90% allocated to focus area programmes, i.e. programmes facilitating the development of an accessible digital and educational environment.

2021 highlights
22
charitable programmes
>130
‘000 individual beneficiaries
RUB 429.7 million
charity expenses
84
regions covered

MegaFon’s charitable activities:

Goals

  • Contribute to address social problems in local communities throughout MegaFon’s footprint by leveraging our business expertise
  • Facilitate the creation of a digital educational environment that improves the quality of life for everyone in Russia

Objectives

  • Provide consistent and effective support in solving pressing social problems in Russia using our professional expertise
  • Promote smart charitable activities in Russia by helping charities and non-profit organisations effectively engage with the business community
Creating an accessible digital environment Developing a digital educational environment Supporting Company employees Supporting target audiences Orphans and children deprived of parental care People with disabilities Digital talents (high-school and university students) Foundations and non-profit organisationsCompany employees in difficult life situationsCharitable prioritiesTarget audiences

Charitable priorities

  • Creating an accessible digital environment
  • Developing a digital educational environment
  • Supporting Company employees
  • Supporting target audiences

Target audiences

  • Orphans and children deprived of parental care
  • People with disabilities
  • Digital talents (high-school and university students)
  • Foundations and non-profit organisations
  • Company employees in difficult life situations

Key selection principles and criteria, performance and social impact assessment of charitable initiatives

Established in 2013, MegaFon’s Charity Committee is responsible for making decisions on which charitable projects to support. The Charity Committee also coordinates our social initiatives, monitors their progress, and assesses their social impact. The Charity Committee is comprised of MegaFon’s PR, HR, legal and security experts. The HR function of the Company’s Head Office is responsible for the overall coordination of our charitable activities.

As the Charity Committee reviews proposed social projects and decides which ones to support, it gives preference to long-term and scalable initiatives capable of delivering actual tangible benefits. In doing so, MegaFon consults with stakeholders, including our employees and the expert community.

When deciding whether to support or implement charitable programmes and projects we are guided by the following principles:

  • Systematic approach to charity. The Company seeks to make a lasting impact through its charitable programmes and projects
  • MegaFon’s charitable programmes and projects need to be effective and sustainable, delivering the maximum social impact:
    • We encourage other donors to get involved in our projects, promote volunteering by employees, and help raise funds from private donors through online crowdfunding platforms
    • We maintain dialogue with all stakeholders to identify their needs and the most efficient ways to address their concerns
  • We share successful practices. Proposed programmes need to have the potential to scale up across Russia

Eligibility criteria applied by MegaFon to proposed charitable projects:

  • A good fit with charitable priorities
  • Support in addressing multiple problems through efforts in a given area
  • Potential for development in the medium term
  • Potential for leveraging MegaFon’s capabilities and engaging its employees across the regions covered by the proposed project
  • Coverage of multiple areas or the potential to scale up to other Russian regions
  • Guaranteed credibility of the beneficiary or the project partner
  • Transparency of funding arrangements

To deliver the maximum value, each charitable project is assessed against a number of quantitative and qualitative metrics developed together with experts. In this process, MegaFon closely collaborates with Russian and international expert communities as well as with federal and regional authorities to share best practices and maximise synergies.

Quantitative performance metrics applied by MegaFon to charitable projects:

  • Level of charity expenses
  • Number of participants in charitable programmes (beneficiaries, experts, specialists, and volunteers)
  • Number of cities and institutions involved in the project
  • Number of events held as part of the project
  • Number of employees engaged in corporate volunteering and other charitable programmes

The qualitative performance metrics applied by MegaFon to charitable projects include the actual tangible benefits from the initiatives, such as improvements in the beneficiaries’ lives, consistent approaches to problem-solving, and the contribution to an improved social fabric.

MegaFon conducts online and offline surveys among stakeholders to assess their satisfaction with delivered charitable programmes. The survey findings shape our decisions on whether to continue or adjust a programme, or whether the programme partners should be replaced.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on MegaFon’s charitable activities

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some offline projects planned for 2020 were not implemented until 2021. At the same time, many projects continued online, expanding the audience of participants and opening up new ways to deliver high impact in an online environment.

Digital environment

Creating an accessible digital environment

  • Universal Mobile Assistant programme
  • Creating video profiles for orphans under the Children at Home project
  • Supporting the activities of volunteer search and rescue crews
  • Helping veterans of the Great Patriotic War
  • Special View programme

Universal Mobile Assistant programme

Since 2016, the programme has been expanding the range of opportunities to help visually impaired people in society, and to empower them through advanced mobile solutions that can help address their disabilities.

Interest in the project is constantly growing, both from visually impaired people and from potential coaches. As a result, more and more blind people are using the capabilities of modern smartphones in their daily lives and professional activities.

The project has become even more relevant due to forced self-isolation and the urgent need to learn how to use various e-services. The hotline we set up has literally become a window on the world for many visually impaired people, and our regional coaches have proven to be indispensable assistants for non-profit organisations supporting the visually impaired as they shifted to remote work.

In 2021, we placed a particular focus on improving the digital literacy of visually impaired people living in small towns and villages, where there is a particularly acute shortage of relevant specialists. As a result, our coaches were able to train almost twice as many visually impaired people and expand the project’s geography.

Lockdown restrictions became an incentive to learn how to use the smartphone for the visually impaired people who had doubted its usefulness in daily life. This is evidenced by the increased number of calls to the hotline with questions about the choice and purchase of new smartphones.

We believe that we need to further develop this project: expand its geography, train new coaches, organise training sessions, host consultations, and promote the opportunities offered by modern mobile devices as an effective rehabilitation tool for the visually impaired. A separate focus should be made on improving the accessibility of modern services to blind and visually impaired users through interaction with specialists from telecommunications companies and mobile app developers.

Rehabilitation Center for the Visually Impaired Camerata
Educational digital environment

Developing a digital educational environment

  • “Artificial Intelligence: A Quick Start Guide” project
  • SkillCity infotainment service
  • International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) finals
  • Connect and Be Successful! programme
  • Development of the Polytechnic Museum
  • World AI & Data Challenge international competition for digital solutions
  • Support for the Development, Innovation, Technology association
  • Support for the development of the Graduate School of Management at Saint Petersburg University

“Artificial Intelligence: A Quick Start Guide” project

The key objective of the project is to ensure access for children and adults to additional training in coding for artificial intelligence in Russian regions, and to promote relevant studies.

The project was launched in 2020 and has already reached over 5,000 people across 78 Russian regions and 33 countries. It includes lectures and workshops, conferences on data science, artificial intelligence and neural networks, as well as a championship in solving machine learning problems using a dataset provided by MegaFon.

In 2021, a training programme was tailored to give participants a deeper insight into artificial intelligence and study it from the ground up.

During the reporting period, an eight-week training programme was run for a wide youth audience with 20% of participants represented by people with disabilities. After 50 hours of training, the students put together their first portfolio comprising a Python programme, an intelligent chatbot, their first machine learning model, and other products.

In 2021, the project team also continued to promote professions around big data and data science. The Stepik platform, one of the most popular online educational platforms for schoolchildren, students, and aspiring professionals, released two relevant courses. Speakers include faculty members from Moscow State University and MIPT, MegaFon employees, and other prominent experts. More than 15,000 students registered for the courses by the end of 2021, and graduates rated the programmes they completed at 4.5 out of 5.0.

Two championships were held, offering practical training to follow theoretical studies: a mock championship for solving simple problems and a championship with a prize, based on a dataset provided by MegaFon. Out of more than 300 registered participants, 50 successfully coped with the task of forecasting traffic at base stations. The championship also served as a career launch pad, with the organisers receiving over 50 CVs for the Data Scientist internship position.

With its Big Data and Data Science courses, the Russian Code School was the winner of the Stepik Awards 2021 as the best new provider on the platform.

SkillCity infotainment service

The SkillCity infotainment service is a social initiative offering career guidance for the digital world and socialising online to children, teenagers and young people.

In 2020, together with FOROTECH, MegaFon built an entire virtual city in the service’s digital space, complete with offices of real companies. Each office has several vacancies, and any child can apply for a job, learn about a certain trade and the skills mix required, e.g. of a UX designer, and then find out where to start getting those skills now. A pay cheque in the game currency that can be exchanged for real prizes is a nice bonus that comes with every job.

In 2021, the app had more than 54,000 registered users — children aged 12 to 18 from across Russia. Twenty-seven offices of different companies and 81 trades were created, and at least 243 skills relevant for professionals were identified. More than 30 universities are already building their virtual branches in the city to help users get answers to their question: “Where do you go to study if you have chosen a digital profession?”

Simultaneously with the development of the game app in 2021, active efforts were made to create, launch and roll out a pilot programme for teachers on career guidance, Collections of Information Materials and Developments. A For Educators section was created on the website, where users can download and use ready-to-use training materials (lessons, games, quizzes, etc.) free of charge. At the end of the year, 180 educators were registered with the programme.

Also, 120 schools received a printed collection of informational materials and methodological developments resulting from the SkillCity Infotainment Service project. All in all, more than 400 institutions across Russia, including schools, non-profit organisations, recreation camps, and vocational guidance centres, took part in activities within the project in 2021.

In 2022, we will focus on enhancing the app and developing software that can be used offline.

Target audience support

Supporting target audiences

  • The Future Depends on You football cup
  • MegaFon Boccia OPEN
  • Development of rhythmic gymnastics
  • Erecting a monument to a Great Patriotic War military signaller in the Signallers Alley on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow
  • Supporting the programme to promote vaccination against COVID-19 among older people, One Million Prizes #BEATCOVIDTOGETHER
  • The Cathedral of the Signal Troops of the Russian Armed Forces

The Future Depends on You football cup

The Future Depends on You open national football cup for orphanage and boarding school teams, held by MegaFon across Russia since 2005, is the Company’s benchmark for charitable activities, setting the standards of consistency, efficiency and sustainability for all our projects. It is the only federal-level project for children in the care of the state, aimed not only at their physical development but also at socialisation and promotion of adoption.

Over the 16 years of the cup’s history, more than 5,000 teams from orphanages and boarding schools participated in the games. Since 2005, more than 39,000 girls and boys have competed to win the cup. In 2021, 210 teams from 130 orphanages across Russia participated in the cup games.

A career guidance programme was launched in 2021 to complement the sports programme. Participants had training sessions dedicated to career guidance, where everyone was able to identify their inclination towards this or that profession and figure out next steps in choosing their career.

Another innovation was the programme for children aspiring to be journalists. The programme participants visited the editorial offices of local publications, took part in trainings and master classes, and produced contest works about their team’s participation in the cup games.

Tournament The future depends on you

Supporting Company employees

MegaFon helps its employees and their family members who find themselves in difficult life situations, including by paying for critical illness treatment.