Responsible banking is about making a tangible difference

BNP Paribas, has been part of the South African financial landscape since 2012. For the past seven years, the branch has taken a proactive approach to its obligations as a responsible corporate citizen, a commitment which has been accelerated under the leadership of its current CEO, Vikas Khandelwal.
Leading the way in national initiatives ranging from education to sport, music, art and culture, Vikas has striven to ensure that he and his team leverage BNP Paribas Group’s international resources to benefit and impact South Africa in the most meaningful way possible. This has been no small feat, given that South Africa is just one of 72 countries in which BNP Paribas is currently present.

“Responsible banking is about living up to economic responsibilities and making a difference,” Vikas says. “A fundamental aspect of our philosophy and strategy is to implement a sustainable programme that not only meets our business objectives, but makes a tangible contribution to uplifting society.”
Vikas and his team’s most recent contributions include a partnership with Tennis South Africa regarding two main projects. The inaugural collaboration created a mentorship programme for 45 black and female coaches to obtain a professional qualification and hence promote tennis to young people, largely from disadvantaged backgrounds. This was then strengthened by the recent launch of ‘BNP Paribas & RCS Rising Star Tennis Initiative’, which is a nationwide primary schools championship targeting the development of tennis at grassroots level, including under-privileged areas.
Simultaneously, the Bank recently launched a five year sponsorship with the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative on Cape Flats led by the Forest Whitaker Foundation based in the United States. This involves working with young members of the Cape Flats to combat conflict and increase education and entrepreneurial opportunities. “Responsible banking is about living up to economic responsibilities and making a tangible difference,” said Vikas at the recent inauguration of the initiative’s Learning Centre in Athlone, Cape Flats.
The bank is also deeply committed to the United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goals in South Africa through a multitude of their impact funding initiatives. A particularly effective project is BNP Paribas’ relationship with the Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF) in Limpopo, where communities are being transformed by microfinancing opportunities, which is benefiting some of South Africa’s poorest communities to create small enterprises, many of which are created by female entrepreneurs.
In terms of Sustainable Financing, BNP Paribas South Africa are enticing clients with unique financing options. The Sustainability Linked Loan of US$30 million to Motus Ltd is one such example, where the cost of credit was linked to a reduction in Motus’ water and fuel consumption to encourage the company to further its environmental commitments, and bolster its own sustainability strategy. “Our vision to place sustainability at the core of our business strategy is evident from this type of financing option,” Vikas revealed.
This September saw the latest performances from the Educape Initiative, a project which teaches Shakespeare to underprivileged children with the help of funding provided by BNP Paribas. The theatre initiative promotes culture and education to create a cohesive cultural understanding among young people, in this case, and also those with disabilities.