Ugo Biggieri, Banca Popolare Etica (Italy): Ethical Finance…
The financial and economic crisis is continuing to adversely affect all of our economies, but the vision of Finanza Etica, or ‘Ethical Finance’, is not limited to just evaluating global data such as GDP, export levels, unemployment levels or consumer levels.
The vision of Finanza Etica is much more profound as it addresses the needs of people who are on the margins of our society, or of the organisations that work for the common good. This vision is guaranteed for Banca Etica by its local operators and partners, who work together to give tangible solutions to meet financial needs, paying attention to the many requirements that are currently emerging.
The serious debt crisis in various states, including Italy, has translated into general cuts in public policies and, in particular, a reduction in the government’s commitment to guarantee good welfare levels. Social organisations and cooperatives that work in integrating the underprivileged or in the social-welfare sector, and education boards, have all suffered from these cuts and have decided to take effective actions to enable them to continue to do their work.
This situation has created a growing need for credit for organisations that do not limit their work to only producing economic value, but to producing and spreading social and environmental value.
Over recent months Banca Etica has focused a great deal on improving efficiency, to enable releasing resources to allocate to new credit assignments. At the same time, we have been working towards increasing our funding to try and give a valid response to these growing needs. In 2011 we increased our investments by 24% and in 2012 by 10%. These are important figures (the average in the Italian banking sector is +1.3%), but we are not fully satisfied yet, because there are still many people and organisations that need Finanza Etica.
As if that was not enough, Basle III and international regulations require increasing capitalisation levels, without considering the fact that those who receive credit from us are considered high risk factors by international banking institutions. This policy does not consider the public importance of social organisations, and does not give enough importance to their ability to offer social guarantees alongside conventional economic guarantees.
This is a general situation that requires commitment from an increasing number of people and organisations to support the institutions of Finanza Etica. To maintain its growth rates it is fundamental that the public decides to be an active player in the financial change effort.
To respond to this we have recently launched the “Not with my money” campaign together with our Cultural Foundation, to explain how the current crisis came about and to help people understand the importance of a responsible choice in the use of their savings. Through the web the campaign has reached more than 500,000 contacts and many of them have decided to join our project, understanding that investing in Finanza Etica means making a positive social and environmental commitment.
However, Banca Etica has also decided to accept new important challenges to sustain those, in Italy and abroad, who are working to set up new Finanza Etica institutions. A project is currently in progress with the Spanish FIARE Foundation, which means we will be able to work alongside the Spanish social networks from 2013 onwards.
These are commitments for the future of the communities that Banca Etica and other organisations in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values are making every day, supported by strong commitments of their organisations and of their partners and clients. For them to succeed we need the help of everyone, to enable continuing to work together to build a financial system that is there to serve mankind and the environment.
Opinion Piece courtesy of Banca Etica.