Interview with Carolina Viguet, Head of Communication & Partnerships, GCAF
Conducted by: Mireille de Kerleau, Communications Manager, CACEIS
1. A few words about the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation?
The Foundation was created in 2008 by Crédit Agricole and Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate who founded the world’s very first microfinance bank in Bangladesh. Our mission is to fight poverty through financial inclusion and impact entrepreneurship.
In concrete terms, we will finance and support with technical assistance missions microfinance institutions and social businesses that serve primarily women and rural populations in Africa, Asia and Europe.
2. What is the Solidarity Bankers programme?
The Solidarity Bankers programme is part of this technical assistance offer. It is a skills volunteering scheme launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in 2018 that is open to all employees of the Crédit Agricole Group, entities and Regional Banks, for the benefit of the organisations financed by the Foundation.
These are two-week pro bono missions in the field or longer but remote missions that are carried out by 1 or 2 Crédit Agricole employees to support an organization financed by the Foundation on a specific need. This may thus entail building a business plan for a new project, establishing the organisation’s marketing plan for the next three years or strengthening the financial plan of the beneficiary company.
3. Who can be a Solidarity Banker?
All employees of entities of Crédit Agricole and Regional Banks in France and abroad are eligible. But there is still one condition: they must have solid expertise in the subject of the mission. We really have all types of profiles, from Directors and Senior profiles to employees with 2-3 years’ experience but who are experts in the subject of the mission.
4. How does the system work?
I would say there are four steps:
STEP 1. DETERMINING THE MISSION AND SELECTING THE SOLIDARITY BANKER
- We determine the mission following a specific request from the company we are financing;
- We launch a call for applications for the mission on our website and also on the Crédit Agricole SA sponsorship platform, CA Solidaires;
- We then carry out a traditional recruitment process via interviews conducted by the Foundation’s team to select one or two Crédit Agricole employees (depending on the complexity of the mission).
STEP 2. CONTRACTING AND PREPARING THE MISSION
- An agreement is signed by the Solidarity Banker’s employer, the beneficiary organization and the Solidarity Banker
- For field missions, there is also a preparation to be done before leaving on mission: there are interviews, documents to be read, so that the 2-week field mission is as efficient as possible
STEP 3. MISSION IN THE FIELD OR REMOTELY
- There are many exchanges, progress points, workshops, training sessions and many meetings with the teams of the beneficiary businesses or microfinance institution as well as end customers.
STEP 4. FINALIZING THE DELIVERABLES
– For example, the Solidarity Banker will finalize the HR plan that has been requested or the business plan of the new product to be launched within 3 or 4 weeks after the mission.
5. Does the employee have to take time off for a Solidarity Banker mission?
Not necessarily. There are 3 possible options for carrying out the mission: a) in a volunteer capacity (during the employee’s leave); b) as skills-based sponsorship (within the framework of the employment contract), or it is mixed, so part of the mission is done during the leave and another part within the framework of the employment contract. This is decided by the Solidarity Banker’s employer. There is no obligation on the employer’s part, but in point of fact, all the participating Crédit Agricole entities and Regional Banks participating have always given days of sponsorship.
6. What is your assessment, within the Foundation, of the Solidarity Bankers programme?
It has already been three years. The programme was launched in 2018. Three years after it was launched, the success of the programme confirms the commitment of employees and the Group’s desire to support social impact projects. The programme has launched around thirty missions in some 15 countries for around 20 organisations supported by the Foundation. There are over 300 days of missions planned or carried out in the form of skills volunteering by around 30 Solidarity Bankers.
Besides, some missions launched in 2021 are still available and about ten missions will be launched this year. So to all the potential Solidarity Bankers who are listening to us, go to our website or contact me, because great impact missions are waiting for you.