Banker’s state­ment

With microfinance now be­com­ing a ma­jor fo­cus for char­ity World Vi­sion, bankers are in de­mand for vol­un­teer work

Element - - Finance - Byadam Gif­ford Jon Hartley

Jon Hartley de­scribes the way World Vi­sion runs its Vi­sion­fund microfinance arm as “dou­ble bot­tom line”. “We want to be good stew­ards and use our re­sources well. It’s im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions do that, so profit is one fo­cus.

“The other fo­cus is child well­be­ing in the com­mu­ni­ties where we do de­vel­op­ment work, so we look at the op­por­tu­ni­ties chil­dren have, and the core mea­sure is how many chil­dren are go­ing to school in those com­mu­ni­ties. That’s a good proxy for clean water, nu­tri­tion, sleep, not be­ing in bonded labour and so on.”

Hartley is a di­rec­tor of Vi­sion­fund, which was set up by the char­ity to pro­vide gov­er­nance and sup­port for the 40 or so microfinance in­sti­tu­tions it owns or works with.

He is also a di­rec­tor of ASB Bank, Cho­rus and Mighty River Power.

“So I’m work­ing for pay two days a week and giv­ing the rest of my time to other projects.”

Hartley came to New Zealand from Bri­tain via spells liv­ing in Su­dan and Zam­bia, giv­ing him an in­ter­est in the prob­lems of the de­vel­op­ing world and an aware­ness of the work of Bangladeshi econ­o­mist Muhammad Yunus.

In 1976 Yunus cre­ated the Grameen (“ru­ral vil­lage”) Bank as an ac­tion re­search project aimed at cre­at­ing a credit sys­tem that would give the ru­ral poor ac­cess to bank­ing ser­vices and end their ex­ploita­tion by money lenders.

It is now a multi-bil­lion dol­lar in­dus­try, with hun­dreds of such banks around the world.

“What microfinance does is give poor peo­ple a tool we take for granted,” Hartley says.

In 2003, when World Vi­sion was re­fo­cus­ing its de­vel­op­ment work, it asked Hartley to do some pro bono work for Vi­sion­fund Cam­bo­dia, which at the time it had 5000 clients. It now has 130,000.

That got him hooked – a de­vel­op­ment project that was also a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion, which could use his par­tic­u­lar skills.

Rais­ing funds for Vi­sion­fund led him to start Bankers with Vi­sion, which al­lows peo­ple with bank­ing and fi­nan­cial ser­vices ex­per­tise to vol­un­teer.

It’s a small group based in Sin­ga­pore, which is close to where its peo­ple are needed for short but in­tense as­sign­ments.

“In the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try in Asia there is a strong fo­cus on cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, but there is only so much lit­ter peo­ple can pick up on a beach.

“Bankers with Vi­sion al­lows them to use their skills on as­sign­ments like help­ing an in­sti­tu­tion in Cam­bo­dia with trea­sury func­tions, or over­haul­ing credit col­lec­tion in In­done­sia,” Hartley says.

Microfinance now ac­counts for more than 10 per cent of World Vi­sion’s work, with US$380 mil­lion in loans to more than 700,000 bor­row­ers.

This year World Vi­sion New Zealand is sup­port­ing the growth of Tan­za­nian microfinance provider SEDA, which Hartley vis­ited last May.

“It’s an in­ter­est­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion. It’s part­ner­ing with World Vi­sion Tan­za­nia and an in­sur­ance com­pany to up­skill farm­ers and pro­vide them with crop in­sur­ance so they can mit­i­gate their risks and have a bet­ter chance of suc­cess,” he says.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit world­vi­sion.org.nz

Se­ung Khen started her own gro­cery store in Cam­bo­dia with the help of Vi­sion­fund. She is pic­tured with her 18-month-old daugh­ter

Sron Si­noun.

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