While it may seem that corporate social responsibility goes unnoticed by consumers, Omnia Elnosairy, head of corporate affairs at Barclays Bank Egypt, argues that “customers do care.”
“They want to trust the organization that they bank with, they want to bank with an organization that is responsible,” told Daily News Egypt on the sidelines of Pamoja Day, an annual community event organized by the bank.
“Pamoja,” a Swahili word meaning together we can, is a partnership with the Near East Foundation and Magrabi optics, who organized a medical caravan to provide eye checkups, medication and glasses for 400 children in the Meet Nama area near Shobra El-Kheima.
“This is a very poor area, with a lack of fresh running water and a lot of factories in the area causing many health problems, affecting children and their eyes,” said the bank’s community relations senior manager, Rania Hasanen.
“Our most important corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is ‘Banking on Brighter Futures,’ which is a training and development program for youth and children providing them with vocational training and career guidance to bridge the gap between education and skills [and] job market requirements, enhancing employability of youth,” said Hasanen.
Hasanen gave examples of projects including a program for young women training them in computer and communication skills across three governorates, which many of them were able to use the training to get jobs. Another project links students and workers to factories and businesses by providing vocational training and then setting them up with work contracts for a year.
“As well as volunteering to participate in events like this one, sometimes donating money for the purchase of the equipment, or being present to distribute medical aid to the children, the bank also encourages their staff members and leaders to invest their time and skills in various initiatives, matching them financially for any fundraising they have raised for their ideas,” Hasanen said.
Barclays Egypt dedicates up to 1 percent of their profits before tax to corporate social investment initiatives, according to Elnosairy. In 2009, the bank allocated about LE 3.5 million to the community and partnered with 19 organizations in implementing projects and initiatives to help an estimated 27,000 underprivileged individuals.
She added that over 900 bank employees volunteered in these initiatives.
Passant Mokhtar, from the Near East Foundation, stressed the importance of the role of banks in supporting NGO initiatives like this one, saying that “a problem with banks’ community programs is that many do not focus on CSR, and mostly focus on microcredit.”
“I think it important for them [banks] to start to increase the amount of money they give back to the community,” Mokhtar added.