Nicolás Fernández de Villavicencio: Transforming a product into social responsibility

Omnes-January 5, 2018-Reading time: 3 minutes

Nicolás Fernández de Villavicencio is head of corporate capital markets. As a veteran of the Spanish stock market, Nicolás has been part of large banks such as BBVA and Santander, with twelve years of experience in the latter. In 2004 he created the Valora Foundation, an NGO that he still chairs today.

Text - Jaime Sánchez Moreno

In 2004, businessman Nicolás Fernández de Villavicencio launched the Valora Foundation, an organization that aims to facilitate donations from both companies and individuals to make something that has lost its usefulness to donors meet the needs of those who receive them.

According to Nicolás, Valora came about sporadically and by chance thanks to a brother of his who is dedicated to the world of sweets for children (the "chuches"), which he imports and distributes throughout Spain. Years before the birth of Valora, Nicolás received a call from a friend of his who asked him for sweets for a charity bazaar. He asked his brother if he had any sweets left over, as his company had mountains of different products.

From there, he began a volunteer work in which he distributed products, originally destined to be destroyed, to those who needed them. However, he realized that this method was partly a waste of time. With the idea of making donations more efficient, she founded Valora.

Valora's approach to the use of surpluses follows that of the financial markets. A software with which "manage everything with only two people in the Foundation, which seeks to make people aware of the need to use something that apparently serves no purpose, preventing it from going to landfill, thus acquiring a second life.". Valora converts a problem into three fundamental advantages: a Corporate Social Responsibility action, a saving on the cost of transport to the landfill or storage and a tax deduction if the donation is valued in books.

Valora helps as a platform for Karibu Sana! a schooling project in Kenya for children without opportunities to receive a decent education. The Foundation does not ask for money from individuals and has signed agreements with several companies.

Nicolás believes that "if I had publicly acknowledged the existence of Valora between 2010 and 2014, I would have been looked at badly."At the time, it was frowned upon in a bank to do alternative work, as this could be interpreted as not devoting all your efforts to the bank. Now, however, this aspect is rewarded. He believes that the United States is ten years ahead of Spain, which has also made progress in this area, in terms of reconciling office and volunteer work. Now all companies have a social responsibility report, something unthinkable fifteen years ago.

He emphasizes the importance of passing on to the family the importance of helping others, because "at the same time helping oneself". For Nicholas, Catholicism is based on the example of Jesus, the source of ethical behavior. "He is my inspiration, because his life is the one that teaches you the morality behind this thought: helping others to be happy.". "Possibly if he were not Catholic, Valora would not exist.", he confesses. He adds that "if it exists, it is because Christianity awakens in me a series of concerns that otherwise I would not have done so".

For Nicolas, many non-believers find the reasonableness of the Catholic religion very appealing. In fact, in some respects anyone can be a Catholic almost without realizing it, and Catholicism stands out for its simplicity. According to him, there are many people who do not believe in God, but who could become better Catholics than others who already believe and practice, since the human key to upright behavior is goodness. About Pope Francis he thinks that "he is the 'Superpope', he has broken all the schemes, he wants to lower the whole government of the Church to the level of the others making it much simpler to understand and more accessible to everyone. He is breaking the mold. I think he is an impressive pope".

He studied at Regent's University and the European Business School in London. He has well-formed opinions on a number of current issues, which are also the focus of our conversation. For example, he believes that the "brexit"will not happen. He is convinced that the British will seek a diplomatic solution so that they do not split off completely; for the president of Valora "have realized that they have gone too far".

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