Interview with Konstantin Kirov, Head of Environmental Department
Dear Mr. Kirov, tell us more about your activity.
One of ProCredit Bank’s core values is environmental sustainability. As a socially responsible institution, we care deeply about the environment and strive to minimize our ecological footprint, both in our internal operations and in our clients’ businesses. We decide to participate in seeSUSTAINtec 2020 as we consider the event as a platform that greatly matches our principles, since we share the same purpose – to contribute to the European goal of turning Europe into a climate-neutral continent. We planned to meet participants and attendees and discussed the possibilities to create change together.
What financial products will you present at the postponed seeSUSTAINtec 2020?
ProCredit is a responsible bank. We claim our institution accountable to protect the environment, but not only in theory. We have started the change internally by implementing energy efficient solutions and photovoltaic plants in many of our buildings not only in Bulgaria, but all over South East Europe, where ProCredit operates. But we have realized that this is not enough. We see our biggest potential to create change through our clients. This is why we want to motivate them to also implement such solutions in their businesses or households, in order to minimize their ecological footprint and maximize efficiency.
We have, therefore, 3 established products for business and private individuals:
1) Green Investment Loan
The Green Investment Loan is our way of supporting the efforts of small and medium-sized enterprises in the development of environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible businesses. All legal entities, sole proprietors and freelancers are eligible to apply for Green Investment Loans, regardless of their business sector.
2) EcoMobility Loan
The EcoMobility Loan is for the purchase of an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid under very attractive conditions. It is appropriate for both private individuals and businesses in order to decrease pollution and fuel consumption.
3) Loan for photovoltaic installation
We support many types of renewable energy investments and in order to make it easier for our clients to start their participation in their own electricity production, we have created a specialized product for 30 kW photovoltaic installation. It is meant for mounting on rooftops of production businesses and other energy intensive businesses. For private individuals, we are open to discuss smaller installations.
Tell us more about the benefits of implementing these solutions in practice.
Implementing energy efficiency solutions is applicable in all areas. There are no specific sectors or types of businesses that are limited to such investments, as they can be done in real estate, machines or even production processes. The benefits of all of our loans with an environmental focus can be easily inferred from their title, but we outline them product by product as follows:
1) Green Investment Loan
decrease operational costs of the businesses
increase competitive advantage
increase the quality of production
decrease the ecological footprint of the business
2) EcoMobility Loan benefits:
less pollution by using less or no liquid fuel
make use of the advantages provided by the state such as no eco tax, no annual car tax, free parking in the Blue and Green parking zones for electric cars
very low interest rate of 1,5%, lower than any alternative
3) Photovoltaic installation benefits:
Partial independence from the public electricity grid
Optimal payback period of 5.5 years
Substantial amount of saved carbon emissions
Possibility for no self-participation in the investment
With our 30 kW product the documentation is covered by the engineering company
Do you have any partners and clients in SE Europe?
Our bank group is positioned in most of the SE Europe countries and we keep regular contact with each other. During meetings with international companies we communicate possibilities for partnerships beyond the borders of one country and therefore we also have contacts with clients of other ProCredit banks.
What are your future development plans?
We want to continue being an example with sustainable and green solutions, therefore we will further increase the eco vehicles the Bank is using (currently 50% of the car fleet is electrical or plug-in hybrid cars) and provide very attractive conditions for the financing of such. Explaining the benefits of energy efficient investments will continue to be our key task and for this we will participate in external events, organize our own presentations and meetings with clients. The renewable energy investments have great potential for decreasing the usage of coal generated electricity and we will find ways to also expand our offers to private individuals. The waste management sector will be an important topic for us during the current and upcoming years, as we want to help increase its efficiency and applicability.
What do we need to change to achieve more sustainability?
It may sound like a cliché, but the change starts with us. And by us, we mean our institution. It is impossible to preach sustainability without setting an example through your own actions. Every business must have this mindset if they want to convince its clients to invest in sustainable solutions. When we aim towards achieving sustainability, it is important to think in the long run. To do that, every institution has to do more than just set a good example. It has to educate. Educate its clients, partners, society. We are convinced that environmental care is not solely a responsibility of the state, but the business as well. Our business clients have a strong impact on the society, and we need to take action working together.