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HRH launches an initiative to encourage social responsibility in European business

8th June 2004

The Prince of Wales launched an initiative to encourage leading EU companies to visit their local communities and help tackle social issues.

Businesses in continental Europe are being encouraged to take part in the Seeing is Believing programme, run by Business in the Community (BITC), of which The Prince is President.

The Prince's Seeing is Believing programme, takes business leaders into deprived inner-city and rural areas and challenges them to help solve the problems they have encountered.

Since its launch in the early 1990s, more than 3,000 business leaders have taken part in the programme, which is administered by the organisation Business in the Community.

During the reception at Clarence House, The Prince said: “As far as Seeing is Believing is concerned, it's been marvellously successful in the last 10 to 12 years since I suggested the idea and since I first started taking some of the somewhat hesitant business leaders around the country in buses, trains and aeroplanes - 3,000 business leaders is pretty good going.

“We now have an alumni of 360 members, which is a powerful business network, which above all else spreads good practice.”

The Seeing Is Believing programme, which has encouraged company employees to act as mentors to disadvantaged teenagers and provide support and advice for other young people, is due to be taken into cities on the continent under the Engage In Europe campaign.

This is a joint venture between Business in the Community and the International Business Leaders Forum, together with national partner organisations across Europe.

The campaign will be led by Francesco Vanni d‘Archirafi, chief executive of Citigroup's Global Transaction Services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Mike Rake, KPMG's international chairman.

The Prince added: “Today we are hoping to launch the European Seeing Is Believing programme, which is taking the whole concept to the Continent.

“The idea follows a visit I made in 1997 to a housing estate in Paris. I remember getting in touch with Business in the Community to see if we could transfer Seeing is Believing elsewhere.

“The next step was a seminar hosted by the British Embassy in Paris and these seminars have been repeated in many other European capital cities.”

During the reception The Prince addressed Business in the Community‘s European partners and UK business leaders who have taken part in Seeing is Believing visits over the past year.

Mr Vanni d‘Archirafi said: “The reason I got involved is very simple. I have a personal belief - doing is believing.

“In today's world, if you have been lucky enough to have a very robust education, come from a privileged background and have a good job where you have a leadership position in the company you work for, in order to ‘move the needle on' and use your brains, you have to give back to the people with less advantages than you have.”