The Common Good
June 2009

Ethical Banks Do a World of Good

by Joey Ager | June 2009

Amidst the news of global market collapse, 11 of the world’s leading ethical banks met for the first time in March to form the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and to develop new strateg

Amidst the news of global market collapse, 11 of the world’s leading ethical banks met for the first time in March to form the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and to develop new strategies for economic cooperation. The alliance of “ethical investment” banks, which has assets of more than $10 billion and serves customers in 20 countries, wants to offer a positive alternative to the current crisis in the global financial system.

“Unlike their enormous main­stream contemporaries,” said alliance cofounder and Triodos Bank CEO Peter Blom at the launch, “these banks are profitable, growing, and crisis resistant. When it was unfashionable to do so, they stuck to simple, core banking services that balance people, planet, and profit.”

Beyond financial se­curity, the alliance is committed to sustainable banking to promote responsible finance that benefits traditionally underserved communi­ties. Mary Houghton, alli­ance co­founder and president of ShoreBank Cor­poration, recently brokered a $68 million loan fund that will help Bangladesh’s BRAC Bank—the world’s largest microfinance institution—make thousands of loans to the poor in Tanzania, Uganda, and southern Sudan. “We will lead the debate on the banking models we think could inspire profound changes in the mainstream financial industry,” said Houghton at the alliance launch. “We won’t just talk about change, we will work together to deliver it.”

—Joey Ager

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