Lamise Negm, Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), & Head of sustainability committee at federation of Egyptian Banks said that the banking sector’s Corporate Social Responsibility contributions amounted to about EGP 4.608bn during 2021.
She explained, in an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, that the CSR contributions included many projects across various sectors, especially health, education, slum development, and social welfare.
Negm who also heads the Sustanability committee at the federation of Egyptian banks (FEB), pointed out that health field had the largest share in the banking sector’s CSR contributions, this came as a normal consequence of the pandemic, Covide-19.
Thus, banks directed their support to raise the efficiency of government hospitals, finance surgeries, cover treatment costs for patients, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical staff, finance medical research, and provide training programmes for nursing teams.
Negm revealed that the healthcare sector alone accounted for about EGP 3.227bn of the total CSR contributions of banks. Another EGP 200.447m were directed to education, EGP 155.355m to urban and slum areas development, as well as EGP 114.744m for social welfare.
At the same time, corporate social responsibility contributions from banks also covered other field, as; sports, arts, and culture with EGP 158.628m, while another EGP 271.520m were directed to conferences and awareness seminars, and around EGP 392.659bn to support national initiatives.
She indicated that the banks also contributed about EGP 6.033m to support environmental projects, EGP 15.850m for people with special needs, EGP 8.1m for women’s empowerment projects. Meanwhile, banks directed EGP 51.644m to support entrepreneurship, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and youth rehabilitation and training, in addition to EGP 5.296m for other projects.
Negm stressed, pointing out that the strategy of the CSR sector at the CBE seeks to work collectively to achieve the predefined goals, where CSR asserts that corporations have an obligation to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, in all aspects of their operations, which is considered one of the important topic in CBE daily agenda.
She also revealed that representatives bank at the Federation of Egyptian Banks had contributed part from the bank`s profit to CSR initiatives.
“FEB adopts sustainable development as a philosophical framework to achieve integration between the economic, social, and environmental aspects,” she indicated.
On the other hand, Negm expected an increase in the volume of corporate social responsibility contributions in the coming period to overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic, COVID-19, which its consequences have affected various areas worldwide.
She emphasized that Egypt is currently witnessing a new era of community action, after the issuance of the executive regulations of the law regulating civil society work. “The law reflects the partnership between the state on one hand and the civil society represented by the private sector and NGOs on the other. The provisions of the law included standards of efficiency, transparency and accountability, as basic conditions for civil society institutions to carry out their work,” Negm explained.
She pointed out that civil society organizations are an essential partner throughout the development stage, and are expected to play a major role in the national and development projects. Also, the private sector plays a pivotal role, by providing the necessary funding across various fields, especially as the pandemic took its toll on the economic and social conditions.
“Thus, this necessitates cooperation to mobilize available resources to strengthen engagement in different areas of development, along with the utilization of technology and digital transformation to achieve the desired economic and social development.”
Negm noted the banking sector’s cooperation with all relevant authorities and institutions to support hospitals, medical staff, and the most impacted groups by the pandemic. Those bodies included Tahya Misr Fund, Ahl Misr Foundation, Al-Qasr Al-Aini, Hospital 57357, Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation, Al-Nas Hospital, Baheya Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, the Egyptian Food Bank, the Egyptian Clothing Bank, Zewail University, Nile University, and others.
Moreover, the CBE launched several financing initiatives to support various sectors, in parallel with the regulatory role in the banking sector, Negm said.
She stressed the importance of focusing on the development aspects of community initiatives, by improving the culture of citizens in the areas targeted by these initiatives.
This is the biggest challenge facing the banking sector, because the word bank is associated in the minds of citizens with financial support only, however; the banking sector works on integration of social and environmental concern, voluntariness, ethical behavior, economic development, improving the quality of life of the citizens, protection of environment, transparency and accountability as well.
“No one can deny the importance of providing citizens’ needs and necessary services. However, encouraging them to work and innovate is more important to become a productive society,” Negm elaborated.
On the other hand, she said that the banking sector currently focuses on supporting and encouraging small projects, in line with the government’s general policy direction, accordingly, banks offer more facilities and finance training programmes for craftsmen and small projects owners, within the framework of their social responsibility to improve the livelihood of vulnerable population groups.
Furthermore, the Egyptian banking sector took part in the ‘Decent Life’ presidential initiative. The initiative aims to improve the quality of life in Egypt’s poorest rural communities, by reducing multidimensional poverty and unemployment rates. It also aims to develop houses, improve electricity and water supply, and develop schools and hospitals.
Negm revealed that banks’ contribution to this initiative amounted to about EGP 47.450m in 2021.
Actually, the banks operating in Egypt have played a solid role in developing the neediest villages since a while, even before the Decent Life initiative, Negm noted.
In addition, the banking sector have supported the Ministry of Health and population in treatment and surgeries to those on the waiting lists of government hospitals, by providing financial support in different specialties.
Negm said that in support of the state’s slum areas development efforts, the FEB launched an initiative to develop several villages in Giza, pointing out that this initiative allocated 2% of each bank’s net profits in 2013 for that purpose.
She indicated that the banks’ contributions to this initiative were not limited to providing financial support, but also through providing human cadres in the sector to achieve the federation’s vision for development, and ensure the efficiency of implementation.
Moreover, Negm also drew attention to the federation’s cooperation with all relevant authorities to achieve the goals of the initiative, including the Armed Forces Engineering Authority, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Local Development, the administrations of Cairo and Giza governorates, Sabbour Consulting, and several civil society institutions.
In the same context, Negm confirmed that green recovery is at the top of the banking sector’s priorities.
She cited the banks’ tendency to take exceptional measures, integrate environmental protection and climate change mitigation into their strategies, establish systems for risk management, and offer green finance products.
“This contributes to reducing poverty; increasing the access of communities to a safe and clean environment; improving the quality of natural resources; and reducing air, water, and land pollution,” she concluded.