The highlight of the first quarter of 2015 in terms of responsible banking has been BBVA’s joining of CSR Europe (The European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility) and the launch of ‘Camino al éxito’.
Founded to promote companies’ contributions to social development at both the local and European levels, CSR Europe has the participation of 70 large international companies, and BBVA is the first Spanish financial entity to join. Through active collaboration, the members of CSR Europe have been able to influence European policies on employment, education and the environment, as well as to promote inclusive and sustainable growth.
‘Camino al éxito’ is a comprehensive program for SMEs in South America whose aim is to contribute to their growth and, therefore, to the development of Latin American societies. The program has been launched in seven countries in which BBVA is present (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) and addresses three areas: 1) training, 2) financing and value offer and 3) recognition and visibility.
Investment in social programs
In March 2015, the 2014 Responsible Banking Report was published. According to the Report, the Group allocated €107.15m to social programs, representing 4.1% of the net attributable profit and an increase of 10% on 2013. BBVA allocated 16% of said investment to financial literacy and 17% to high social impact products, 25% to educational programs for society and 41% to other strategic projects. By geographical area, 37% is allocated to Spain, 22% to Mexico, 11% to South America, 5% to the United States, 21% to the BBVA Foundation and 5% to the Microfinance Foundation.
BBVA continues to make progress on closer and simpler communication with its customers. In 2015, the aim is to be perceived as one of the top two banks for the clearest and most transparent communication in the eight main geographical areas where we operate. On January 1, 2015, the TCR Commercial Communication Code was implemented. This document contains the principles to be followed in commercial communication and advertising in the Group to guarantee they are transparent, clear and responsible.
In the first quarter of 2015, BBVA joined the program ‘Tus Finanzas, Tu Futuro’ (Your Finances, Your Future), the joint initiative of 16 Spanish banks promoted by the Spanish Banking Association (AEB), whose purpose is to foster financial literacy among Spanish youth. The aim is to enroll 6,500 students and more than 100 schools around Spain in the course, which will be taught by 400 volunteers. All volunteers will be employees from participating banks.
Products with a high social impact
The use of new digital channels and products bolsters a form of banking that is in touch with the needs of every customer. They also make it possible to unveil new opportunities for banking penetration for a segment of the population that is also in need of a savings strategy to help make financial projects a reality. BBVA Bancomer continues to lead in the creation of financial products and services for lower income customers, who benefit from access to the bank through various channels. This, in turn, strengthens financial inclusion, as seen in the 40% share achieved in this segment. Moreover, the entity in Mexico maintains its banking correspondent network with 24,500 member retailers. Through them, more than 45 million transactions are completed every year.
The BBVA Microfinance Foundation serves almost 1.6 million customers, to whom €983m in microloans have been granted. A total of 96% of these customers are considered successful in the business they have set up to rise out of poverty. The BBVA Microfinance Foundation has signed an alliance with UN WOMEN to promote the development and inclusion of low-income female entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Momentum Social Investment committee has selected the five 2014 Momentum Project ventures and another two from past editions. The recipients will receive more than €900,000 to grow their business. With this funding, Momentum Project wants to lead and promote social investment in Spain, to which it has allocated more than €8m since its launch in 2011.
Innovation and knowledge
The BBVA Foundation Ayudas a Proyectos de Investigación (Research Project Grants) program has received more than 1,000 project applications from a total of 7,607 researchers in hopes of accessing one of the 21 BBVA Foundation Research Project Grants in the areas of Biomedicine, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Socioeconomics and Digital Humanities, in this first edition of the call for proposals. This program has €2.2m in funds available per year.
BBVA has significantly boosted its Global Eco-efficiency Plan with the signing of an agreement with Iberdrola for the electric power supplied to the 3,091-branch offices network and 71-buildings in Spain to be entirely renewable as of 2015. This measure will prevent the emission of 180,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of the annual emissions of 75,000 vehicles, a city with 50,000 inhabitants or the planting of 4.5 million trees.
On March 28, 2015, the BBVA Group again took part in the global Earth Hour campaign, switching off the lights of 523 buildings (133 corporate buildings and 390 branch offices) in 158 cities in 10 countries in the Americas and Europe. This project, which is now in its seventh edition, has become the main world event for environmental protection.