Setting an example of commitment
CNO and Braskem teams mobilize to help the Southern Bahia Lowlands through the Tribute
to the Future Program
Written by: Vivian Barbosa
Photos by: Almir Bindilatti
Young students at Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Family House, one of the projects sponsored by Tribute to the Future
In late 2007, the Odebrecht team led by engineer Luiz Antonio Costa that is building the Santos Waterway Terminal in São Paulo State achieved yet another important result, surpassing what was stipulated in their Action Program: they became the largest group of Tribute to the Future program investors working on a single project. Altogether, 80 members, 27% of the team, were partners in this initiative.
Since 2005, the Tribute to the Future program has given Odebrecht Group members in Brazil a quick and convenient way to make a contribution by allocating part of their taxes to projects that benefit children and adolescents in the Southern Bahia Lowlands region. Civil Society Organizations supported by the Odebrecht Foundation in that region – the President Tancredo Neves Rural Family House and the Rights and Citizenship Institute (IDC) – are carrying out three projects financed by the Tribute program. So far, about BRL 750,000 have been capitalized.
“I think it is important for our members to be more closely engaged in social programs sponsored and organized by the company, thereby making an outstanding contribution to the integrated and sustainable development of the Southern Bahia Lowlands, an underprivileged region in northeastern Brazil,” argues Luiz Antonio Costa, 53, who joined Construtora Norberto Odebrecht as trainee in 1977. In the course of his career, he has worked in seven countries and built up an impressive résumé of social projects associated with the construction works built under his leadership, including literacy and reading incentive programs. He is currently running a program in the community adjacent to the Waterway Terminal that is helping to include local residents in the job market.
Monthly reports enable Costa and his team to keep tabs on how their Tribute to the Future donations are financing a training project for Municipal Councils, Reading Circles, and productive and educational projects for more than 80 young people that provide good-quality rural education and human and professional development opportunities. “The transparency with which the process is conducted is a motivating factor to continue making these investments,” he says.
When he first heard about Tribute to the Future, Costa asked the program’s representatives to give a presentation for his team members at the construction site. Seeking to influence his team by example, he signed up on the spot. “Inspired by socially responsible values, we always want our small contribution to make the difference.”
“The most important thing is getting involved”
Brazilian taxpayers who use the long form can assign 6% of their taxes owed to Tribute to the Future projects. That is all they need to pay: if members are due a tax refund, the investment is added to the total amount refunded. If taxes are owed, the investment is deducted from the amount payable.
Luiz Antonio Costa observes that his team members chose to contribute to the program, including those who could not deduct their investments from their income taxes. “The most important thing is not the amount donated or the refund obtained, but getting involved. When these professionals leave this project to take on new challenges, they will spread the seeds of civic spirit and bring more people into the Tribute program.”
Engineer Délio Galvão, the Project Director for the Jaguaribe Marine Outfall in Salvador, Bahia, is also investing in Tribute to the Future. He chose to support the Rural Family House school. Aged 58, he graduated from college 36 years ago and has spent 31 years working at Construtora Norberto Odebrecht. “We are perpetually dissatisfied with our businesses’ results because we always believe we can go even further. Where issues of social responsibility focused on sustainability are concerned, we have a lot to do to build a better world,” he says.
When the project Galvão leads reaches its peak, it will involve about 400 people. He wants all of them to take on social and environmental commitments. He tries to put this ideal into practice in all the challenges entrusted to him, such as the Formoso irrigation project in Bom Jesus da Lapa, Bahia, where he supported the Tomorrow Project. “The more accommodations that were freed up as the number of people in our workforce fell, the more space we had available to set up a professional education school for rural settlement families, which helps keep people in the countryside.”
Galvão mobilized his direct team members on the projects under his responsibility in 2007, influencing them to join the cause of Tribute to the Future. “I believe in the program because it shows us what can be achieved through simple ideas – effectively helping implement creative solutions that minimize major social problems. It serves as an example that can be replicated in other situations in our professional and personal lives.”
Partnership for sustainability
Chemical engineer Marcelo Cerqueira, 43, who is taking charge of the Braskem Vinyls Unit’s Industrial Program, is planning a strategy for encouraging his new team members to join the Tribute program. He got a first-hand look at the projects supported by the Odebrecht Foundation in the Southern Bahia Lowlands in 2007, when he visited the region as part of the Program for Developing Entrepreneurs (PDE). “The clarity and vision of the future these young people have, and their concern for their community, are impressive. Those qualities alone show how outstanding they are,” he observes.
Believing that the leader-team member relationship can educate and groom people, Cerqueira wants to influence his team primarily by setting an example. “We began contributing to the Tribute to the Future program this year. I think our role is to drive development, focusing on educational projects that can ensure a region’s sustainable growth.”