Aleksandra Vesic Jun 20, 2013
Last year, PP brought you portraits of two major individual donors, both from out of our region. We thought it might be time to show that there are such donors in Western Balkans too! This post is about Nikola Koprivica, businessman and philanthropist from Montenegro, who, in memory of his father, established Foundation “Ćano Koprivica” in Niksic in Montenegro.
His father, Stanislav-Ćano Koprivica was widely known in Montenegro for his philanthropic giving and is considered as one of the greatest Montenegrin philanthropists. The first Montenegrin Iskra Award for Individual Philanthropy was given to him, posthumously, for outstanding life contribution. Often are quoted his words: “it is not important how much money you have, what is important is to know what to do with it.”
This is Nikola’s (Stanislav’s son) story:
Giving is the way we were raised in my family, and when you are growing up with that then it becomes normal. My father used to help lot of people and the company that he was running also gave out a lot of money in philanthropic purposes. Before he died, he told me about his wish to establish a foundation.
So, when I developed my own business, I started to think about foundation or endowment. I had about 350,000 Euro for this purpose. When I went to Niksic, I’ve asked them what do they need? And after number of ideas, they came up with the high musical school. They also decided to add some money and this is how it started.
This is also how I raise my children. For example, my children are now godparents  to children in Africa – they give money for the children’s education. These are not large amounts – but they do give from their own pocket money and I add to their donations. They are also following the work of the foundation. I think that wish to help others (society) is one of the most important things that is learned at home and that it has to be nurtured from early days.
Why give money through the foundation and not through other organizations?
I decided to establish a Foundation because that gives me control over giving and I’m not tied up with other donors. Also all CSO/local Foundations give money for projects, while for me it is important to give to individuals as well. I think that one of the challenges that Montenegro faces is having more of educated human resources and that is where I want to invest.
And I like to see clear result of my giving and what has been accomplished.
Through the work of the Foundation I realized that there are many CSOs and small ones too… so it’s good that other foundations like fAKT exist and can support them.
What causes are important to you?
Areas that I’m interested in are education, culture, environment…
But, very important part of my philosophy is that we need to give the opportunity to young people with talent. That’s why we built musical school and we are also supporting some young people with scholarships so that they can study in Podgorica. I also plan to establish the award Stanislav-Ćano Koprivica for young entrepreneurs.
As work in Foundation developed I realized even more clearly how important is to influence children’s development and provide opportunity for them to learn the right values in early stages. That is why Foundation invests more and more resources in early education for children.
Also, while I give most in Montenegro, I also help some people in Serbia. I was raised in Yugoslavia, so I don’t look completely separately on Montenegro and Serbia.
Business, money and giving
My business is completely separated, and I do not practice giving money through my company. It’s not such big company and it markets itself in other ways. However, what I am thinking about is starting a business that would feed its profit into the Foundation.
For me personally, tax incentives didn’t have anything to with this – my business is in another country and I do not benefit from tax incentives by giving in Montenegro. But for some people it might be important.
I look at the money as the energy, it shouldn’t be still, it should move around.
What do you think about motivating others to give?
When motivating people to give it’s a lot about atmosphere and reason for giving. Our Foundation had donor’s evenings and we raised about 60,000EUR for two nights. And this wasn’t only about rich people, some donations were as small as 5 EUR. It was about lot of people who loved and respected my father and wanted to remember him in this way.
And for the end…
Some time ago I’ve read a Zen story, for which I think it’s very true and part of my philosophy why to give. It tells us that one who gives should be thankful, for the opportunity to give.
In 2011. Nikola Koprivica has received Montenegrin Iskra Award as an individual who, through his philanthropic activities contributed to community and society development.
Foundation “Ćano Koprivica” remains very active in Montenegro. Apart from Nikola’s contribution to its work, Foundation is supported by great number of individuals and companies. One of their latest projects is Foundation supported establishing of puppet theater for children in Niksic and its first show (Red Riding Hood).
Also in line with Foundation efforts to invest more in early education for children, in January 2013 the Foundation supported opening of the first Montessori school in Montenegro “The Bell” for children between 3 and 6 years of age. In parallel, Foundation also plans to support the Training Center where teaching staff from all over Montenegro can come to be trained and certified. Overall, Foundation has invested close to EUR750,000 in various projects and programs in Montenegro.
Many thanks to Nikola Koprivica for readiness to share his story. If you wish to find out more about the work of the Foundation “Ćano Koprivica”, please visit http://www.nvfcanokoprivica.org/
 World Vision program: Sponsor a Child