The GABV Values Ambassadors Meet in Lima, Peru
In early April 2014, 19 GABV Values Ambassadors met in Lima, Peru over five days to discuss leadership and innovation in their scope of work as ambassadors of values-based banking. The Values Ambassadors are a worldwide network of individuals from GABV member banks whose task is to raise awareness of values-based banking as well as be the bridge to their member banks. The role is also one of cultivating leadership through innovation, personal development and peer coaching.
Hosted by MiBanco, Peru’s largest microfinance institution, the meeting opened with learning journeys to several MiBanco clients.
One of the clients described how her microfinance loan to purchase a sewing machine transformed her life from a newly divorced, unemployed mother of two children, to a successful business woman. She had recently finalized the construction of a three-story building, financed by MiBanco, with eight sewing machines that produce the embroidery on sneakers.
Another visit to a manufacturer, showed a husband and wife team who had built a successful underwear business. “How did you have the idea to specialize in underwear?” one Values Ambassador asked her. She replied, “Everyone wears it; it’s practical.” These were just a few of many stories of how MiBanco has positively affected the lives of many in its community in Lima.
While not all GABV banks are involved in the microfinance sector, these clients’ stories were a testament to the power of capital to positively transform lives and economies.
The exchange of ideas across values-based banks is a powerful currency with multiplier effects for the work of all values-based bankers as well as the lives of those they impact. In one session during the conference, Values Ambassadors shared innovations across their banks, including:
- Triodos Head and Heart Day where clients vote for their favourite Triodos Bank-financed business.
- GLS’s initiative to send 10 bankers to Kenya to visit projects they fund and encourage their staff to think outside the confines of the everyday banking operations;
- Crédit Coopératif’s user-friendly guides developed to help people with learning disabilities to successfully navigate the banking system;
- Vancity’s cash mobs at their client’s businesses to mobilize spending in the local economy, building on the idea of ‘flash mobs’ but with the difference that their members converge on the businesses they finance.
“Innovation is so many things but sometimes it’s just innovating to ‘do the right thing,’” Cherie Devisser, Vancity, Canada
The Values Ambassadors also further developed their own leadership skills through actively participating in and running workshops, lectures and focus groups, as this group serves as ambassadors of the GABV values within their own banks. The group developed close peer networks to support and encourage one another in the year ahead with their own leadership development.
One of the most exciting parts of being a Values Ambassador is connecting with people from all over the world, with not just similar professions, but a similar set of core values. The exchange of ideas and the creativity generated in those five days in Lima was truly magnetic. Finally, the Values Ambassadors also spent time brainstorming ideas connected with a new GABV initiative designed to engage with the public in 2014. ‘24 Hours of Values-Based Banking’ events and activities are scheduled to take place around the world in the Fall of this year.
The Values Ambassadors left the meeting with their innovation and creativity nurtured, inspired by ideas that they could take back to their respective banks. Together they have developed a powerful global network of young leaders to engage and work with to advance values-based banking worldwide.
“Our role as VA’s is not to necessarily do it all ourselves but to find ways to be the bridge within our organizations to connect colleagues within the GABV to colleagues within our organizations,” Heather Harmse, Vancity, Canada