Sustainable Banking's Influence Grows

A Network of leading sustainable banks announces three new members, signaling the increasing importance of values-based banks

Mount Dora, Fla. / Minneapolis, Minn/ Canada --The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), an independent network of the world's leading values-based banks welcomes three new members, all from North America today; Canada’s Affinity Credit Union, Florida’s environmental pioneers, First Green Bank, and community-development focused and Minneapolis-based, Sunrise Community Banks. The network believes the success of its growing membership highlights how a brand of banking that balances people, planet and prosperity is becoming increasingly relevant to the future of the financial industry.

“It is a great pleasure to announce that these three groundbreaking financial institutions are joining the GABV,” said Peter Blom, GABV chairman and chief executive officer of European sustainable bank, Triodos Bank. “First Green, Affinity and Sunrise banks are the latest progressive financial institutions to join our expanding network of independent banks. The success of banks like these is increasingly at the heart of the urgent debate about how to build a resilient financial industry capable of serving all of our long-term interests.”

The GABV believes that sustainable banks have built a compelling business in recent years. The GABV recently released a report comparing the financial performance of sustainable banks, like these, and the world’s Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions between 2007 and 2010. The results showed values-based banks outperformed some of the biggest names in banking, in almost every measure.

While none of its members are immune from the economic downturn, the GABV’s new members are typical of these success stories. Florida’s First Green Bank, for example, has pioneered a positive environmental and social approach in a traditional community bank. “There is a real and urgent need for a values-based banking model that finances entrepreneurs who build their enterprises, create job growth and support communities. It’s inspiring to know that there is a growing movement of banks heading in the same direction and offering a genuine alternative to today’s dominant banking models,” said Ken LaRoe, chief executive officer at First Green.

Affinity Credit Union, who become the GABV’s third Canadian member, provide financial services to over 95,000 members through a network of 46 branches in 37 communities across the province of Saskatchewan and share this wider agenda. “We work with our members in their communities to create positive economic and social changes,” said Affinity Credit Union CEO George Keter. “We look forward to contributing to the growth of the worldwide sustainable banking movement in Canada and around the world.”

Family-owned, and comprising three locally managed banks, Sunrise Community Banks aims to be a leader in improving the urban community. CEO David Reiling, believes the bank’s local focus has important implications for global banking. “While we serve communities in the neglected inner cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, our colleagues in many countries around the world are doing much the same thing. The context in Bangladesh, Vancouver or Germany may be very different, but the values that underpin our work are much the same. This is a hugely important movement for a world in need of credible new approach to finance.”

For more information on the GABV, visit www.gabv.org.
                                                            
BACKGROUNDER: Global Alliance for Banking on Values
• The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) is a membership organization, made up of nineteen of the world's leading sustainable banks, from Asia and Latin America, to the US, Canada and Europe.
• The organization began when ten of the world’s banks came together in 2009 to commit to supporting the growth of sustainable banking and its impact worldwide.
• Members believe that we must improve the quality of life for everyone on the planet, recognizing that we are economically interdependent and responsible to current and future generations.
• Across the world, GABV members play a crucial role in providing the money entrepreneurs and their enterprises need to transform lives and deliver sustainable development for unserved people, communities and the environment.
• Members are bound by a shared commitment to find global solutions to international problems, and to promote a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system and mainstream banking business models.
• GABV banks have combined assets of over $26 billion, and operate in 24 countries.
• To qualify for membership, each institution must: be an independent and licensed bank or financial institution with a focus on retail customers; have a minimum balance sheet of $50 million; and be committed to responsible financing and the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity.
• In 2009: GABV committed to raising $250 million (USD) in capital over three years to support expansion of nearly $2 billion in lending to unserved communities and individuals, and green projects, at the Clinton Global Initiative. They raised $400 million in just one year.
• In 2010, Global Alliance for Banking on Values pledged to touch the lives of a billion people by 2020 by expanding its network of banks, further increasing the capital it raises and training a new generation of sustainable bankers to use that money to make a lasting difference, and help meet the biggest challenges of our time.
• Most banking institutions base their business decisions primarily or exclusively on profitability. GABV banks start by identifying a human need to be met and then determine how to meet that need on a financially sustainable basis.