How do you bank on sustainable values for the long-term? In other words, is it truly possible to maintain a profitable bottom line and support environmental and community needs at the same time? That is the grand ambition of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values headquartered in Berlin. The GAVB even goes further than this in their mission statement. The alliance endeavors “to promote a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system.” That grand idea might explain why only four small U.S. banks are on the list. Yet much of the developed and developing world desperately needs a better and more accessible alternative to the current system.
“Profitable and growing, the banks in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values are independent, licensed institutions with assets that exceed $60 billion. Together they touch the lives of more than 10 million people in 25 countries.” The alliance was formed in 2009, not long after the bottom dropped out of the financial markets. Clearly, an alternative is urgent for a system that implodes every decade or two from outsized excess and greed. Not clear how the banks will grow and expand given the climate of opposing models. Yet the increasing focus for more equitable distribution of financial opportunities for the world’s 99% lends added support GABV goals.
The organization does not list any individual board member or executive bios, so web invisibility makes it challenging to discover who is behind this initiative. The stamp of respectively, however, was placed on the group at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative. The alliance also receives funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Twenty-one banks belong to the network to date from Canada, Germany, Spain, Norway, South Africa and other parts of Europe and the globe. So far, from the U.S. there are four: First Green Bank of Central Florida, Sunrise Community Banks of Minneapolis, and two from San Francisc0: New Resource and Silicon Valley Bank.
The movement to create sustainable banking that serves to build underserved communities, support environmentally and socially responsibly initiatives is only a few years old in its current form. If you want to meet the GABV members personally, go to their annual meeting this March in Berlin. Banking chiefs from Germany, Spain, and other parts of the EU and professors from MIT and University of Johannesburg, South Africa will be speakers. Any U.S. bankers to speak at this year’s conference? Not so far! We will keep you posted.
The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) is a membership organisation, made up of twenty one of the world’s leading sustainable banks, from Asia, Africa, Latin America to North America and Europe. Members include microfinance banks in emerging markets, credit unions, community banks and sustainable banks financing social, environmental and cultural enterprise.
All comply with sustainable banking principles and have a shared commitment to find global solutions to international problems – and to promote a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system. These organisations believe that we must improve the quality of life for everyone on the planet, recognising that we are economically interdependent and responsible to current and future generations.
The network’s members have to meet three criteria:
- they are independent and licensed banks with a focus on retail customers
- with a minimum balance sheet of $50 million;
- and, most significantly, they should be committed to social banking and the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
The Global Alliance for Banking on Values works with key partners to further its work. In particular, with FMO, the development bank of the Netherlands, the Rockefeller Foundation, who co-fund its financial capital and impact metrics action track, and SBI who deliver services and solutions that extend access to capital to un(der)served individuals, households and entrepreneurs globally.