Renáta and Milan Dubec: Everyone who helps should be proud of it. It can kick-start others (podcast)
Whoever was born in Slovakia is basically one of the richest people in the world and should help, says entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Milan Dubec. When he and his wife Renata set up a foundation in his hometown of Žilina, they wanted to improve life in the city and help keep young people in Slovakia. Last February, however, life presented them with a completely different challenge. Listen to Impact Talks podcast, where we bring you inspiring stories of philanthropists and break down the taboos associated with the word philanthropy.
Right at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Renata Dubec said – we need to do something. She was thinking not only of her Ukrainian colleagues in the company who wanted to get their loved ones to Slovakia, to safety. In the end, husband and wife Milan and Renáta did much more. They turned the empty office space into a hostel with 300 beds. Dozens of refugees were flowing into Camp Žilina every day, staying overnight and getting help looking for long-term accommodation.
“Helping is a natural human trait, it is a natural reflex. We don’t discuss it philosophically, we explicitly do our duty,” says Renáta Dubec about helping people fleeing war.
Milan used his business experience in managing the whole project. “My wife and I had the idea and I found the courage. At the end of the day, we had hundreds of people who wanted to help us, but they wouldn’t be able to start it individually,” says the successful entrepreneur.
However, a roof over the heads is not everything, so the couple founded the Ukrainska Spilka organization, which helps Ukrainian families integrate into life in Slovakia by offering them Slovak language courses or helping them with finding a job and schools for children.
In our podcast you will learn:
- whether a successful entrepreneur must have a Ferrari parked in the garage,
- how an office space got turned into a dormitory for families with beds and showers,
- why refugees from Berlin called to ask if they can return to Slovakia,
- what people fleeing the war found in Žilina besides a place to sleep,
- why the couple set up a family foundation and what is its purpose,
- how they get their children and grandparents involved in helping,
- whether philanthropists should help discreetly or talk about this topic publicly.
In two years, Milan Dubec Foundation has distributed over a hundred thousand euros for the renovation of public spaces. “By doing business in Žilina, earning money and employing people from the city, I want to show that this is not all I care about. The foundation is helping the city through the support of community projects,” explains the philanthropist.
You can also start with your neighbor
According to Renata Dubec, there are many ways and places to help. “As for the beginning just look around you and help a neighbor or your acquaintance. Many times, it takes only a nice word or a smile,” she thinks.
Everyone’s help should be proportionate to their capabilities. Someone has time or an idea to offer, a thriving business has money. “Everyone who helps should be proud of it. It can kick-start others,” adds Milan Dubec.
The connection between business and philanthropy is logical, he says. “If a volunteer cleans a riverbank from trash, that’s philanthropy too, they are donating their time. Those who have money can afford much more,” the entrepreneur explains the role of responsible companies.
Who are Mr. and Mrs. Dubec?
Milan Dubec is a well-known Slovak entrepreneur and investor, founder of the Azet.sk portal. He is known for his successful projects such as Pokec, the news portal Aktuality.sk or the Bistro.sk delivery service. Currently, he is the CEO of the development company Reinoo.
Renáta Dubec worked for 17 years in the Azet internet portal. In Reinoo, she is mainly involved in design. After the invasion of Ukraine, she initiated the idea of helping the refugees.
The couple is raising four children together. They founded the Milan Dubec Foundation in 2021, supporting Zilina’s projects for the restoration of neglected and abandoned parts of the city, the debate on stopping the brain drain from Slovakia and helping Ukrainian refugees.
In the Impact Talks podcast, we talk to personalities from business, culture and sports who are breaking down the conventional ideas about philanthropy. Kind-hearted people who help intuitively and those who strive to make the biggest social impact. Because philanthropy is diverse and far from just about giving away money.
The podcast is produced in collaboration with Aktuality.sk and hosted by Milan Junior Zimnýkoval.
If you enjoyed the podcast, please support its production and listen to even more philanthropic stories.
Photo: Veronika Šeliga Pilátová