social responsibility


While Wall Street’s facade is transforming amidst the credit crunch, banking giants such as Barclays and JP Morgan enjoy their reinforced power. JP Morgan, with the acquisition of one of US largest banks, Washington Mutual, raised to become nation’s second largest bank, behind Citigroup Inc. On the other hand, Barclays, the UK bank, enters the US market with the purchase of Lehman Brothers and raises to the league of world’s top 10 investment banking businesses. Although its logo adorns the renowned Lehman building on Wall Street, Barclays seems far removed from vanity. Last week at the Clintton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, held in New York, President Bill Clinton anounced that Barclays will make a three-year commitment amounting USD 20 million to provide community financial services across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

With all due respect to skepticism on Wall street, access to financial services still remains vital for sustainable economic growth. 2 billion people in the world, of which 20 million are in US, don’t have savings accounts, let alone checking accounts, nor do they have access to credit and insurance services. Microfinance has enabled borrowing and saving schemes for those with entreprenerial skills but without any means to realize them. What may be considered part of much debated philontrocapitalism, the work of microfinance institutions, depends on small-scale lending and business development. Keeping the emphasis on “small-scale” in mind, the direct involvement of world-class financial players in microfinance has raised potential issues of corruption and mission-drift.

Against all doubts on commercial bank involvement in providing saving and loans services to poor people, Barclays has followed a more laudable path. The UK finance giant funds the Katine project that started out in 2007 as a joint project between Barclays, the Guardian Media Group, and African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) to develop socio-economic sustainability in north-east Uganda. What makes Barclays’ involvement without fault is that it works through the existing savings and loans associations rather than trying to expand Barclays’ branches (even if it did, Katine people are so poor that they would not be qualified for any of the bank’s services). The UK finance giant supports Village savings and loans associations (VSLAs) that are set up in the region by the humanitarian organization, Care International.

Run and set up by groups of 15-20 people, VSLAs act as banks where debtors are also the creditors. Each member deposits a fixed amount of money on a regular basis, that adds up to a sum of available money for credit. From that sum, members can borrow, usually on short-term basis and with high interest. At the end of each year the members are paid back their money with added interest.

Self-owned and self-financed, VSLAs proved to be a major success and with Barclays’ USD 20 million commitment, the Katine project will be replicated in other developing regions. As for the bank’s impact on its subsidiaries, Barclays has already started looking for ways to incorporate Lehman’s charity expenses, which amounted to USD 39 million last year, compared to Barclays’ USD 108 million.

25 Subat Pazar aksami Oscar gecesinin dedikosu bol olayi “Red Carpet” i izlerken herkesin gozu onlari aradi; Bradgelina ve Scarlett Johannson neredeydi? Dogrusu, yalniz gelen kumral Cameron Diaz, evli ve cocuklu Kate Winslett, annesiyle gelen Leonardo Dicaprio izleyici pek de heyecanlandirmadi. Hele kirmizi elbisesiyle suzulen ama kocasi hakkinda sorularda hayalet donmuse donen Nicole Kidman, guzelligiyle buyulese de  dedikoduya mahal birakmadi. Gozlerimiz gozde cift Brad ve Angelina’yi ariyordu. Ozellikle yetenekli oyuncu Gael Garcia Bernal bile, Babel’deki rol arkadasiyla henuz tanismadigini dile getirdikten sonra, tum karizmasiyla ortaligi kasip kavuracak bir Brad gorme ihtiyaci sondurelemez bir yangina donustu. Fakat yoklardi. Ne Angelina, ne Brad yilin en populer olayina, moda polislerinin kol gezdigi bu piriltili sahneye tesrif etmediler. Ve bugun, 28 Subat’ta, Angelina Jolie Washington Post’taki kose yazisiyla Sudan’dan bildiriyor: “Justice for Sudan” Uluslarasi Ceza Mahkemesi’nin (ICC) Sudan İçişleri Bakanı Ahmed Harun ve Cancavid milisleri komutanı Ali Muhammed Ali Abdürrahman icin tutuklama karari cikarmasinin ardindan, Jolie yazdigi yaziyla adaletin yerini bulmasi icin hala bir umudun oldugunu soyluyor. 2004’un sonlarinda Darfur’da cinayetler, tecavuzler son hiziyla devam ederken, Amerika’da olan bizlerin, ya da Turkiye’deki bircok gazetecinin boyle bir olaydan haberi bile yoktu. ICC ise ancak 2005 yazinda sorusturmaya basladi. Birlesmis Milletler Mayis 2006’da imzalanan Baris Antlasmasinin uygulanabilmesi icin baris gucu gonderme sozu verdigi halde, Afrika Birligi (AU) hala baris saglayamadi. Darfur barış anlaşması, Darfurlu Afrikalıların dışlanmasını sürdürüyor. Üç isyancı gruptan ikisinin anlaşmayı imzalamamasında şaşılacak bir durum yok; üçüncüsü de BM asker konuşlandırmazsa anlaşmadan çekileceğini açıkladı.

Angie, Birlesmis Milletler Guvenlik Konseyine seslene dursun, dolgun dudakli, dugme burunlu Scarlett ise Hindistan ve Sri Lanka’da yoksulluga care ariyor. Ilk defa 2004 yilinda, Tsunami felaketinden zarar gorenlere yardim icin bolgeyi ziyaret eden Johansson, bu sefer Oxfam‘in finansal destek sagladigi bir okula giderek ogrencilerle zaman gecirmis. Oxfam’in directoru Jeremy Hobbs’un dedigine gore, Scarlett’in katkisi en kucuk yardimin bile ne kadar onemli oldugunu gosteriyormus. Oscarlarla ayni zamana gelen bu global yardim hareketlerinin magazin sayflarinda yankilanacagi kesin.