Outstanding Volunteers, Significant Social Impact
Helping people help themselves is the most sustainable form of collaboration with African countries. Two Corporate Citizenship prizewinners have built an innovative exchange project at Credit Suisse.
On June 17, 2016, ten Credit Suisse employees working in Switzerland were chosen to receive a Corporate Citizenship Switzerland Award. The prizewinners are committed volunteers, project organizers, and regional volunteering champions from various parts of the country. The Corporate Citizenship team in New York also honored its outstanding contributors with Giving Back Awards. The recipients represent over 20,000 employees worldwide, who cumulatively support about 700 partner organizations with social and humanitarian projects. Together, they represent the societal commitment of the bank and its employees, which contributes to an economically and socially stable environment. The primary focus is on programs that enable the exchange of skills and knowledge between employees and target groups – for example, children and young people, disadvantaged people, or start-ups.
Education as a Global Commitment
The global focus of our Credit Suisse Corporate Citizenship activities lies on the areas of microfinance and education, the latter being one of the most important prerequisites for sustainable growth. Through close collaboration with national and international organizations, the bank seeks to improve access to education and the quality of opportunities in developing countries. One of the Swiss prizewinners is closely connected to the field of education: Stefan Scherrer from Zurich, a Managing Director in Asset Management, established a cooperative relationship with the non-profit organization B360 education partnerships in 2011. B360 facilitates an exchange of students and volunteer lecturers between Europe and southern Africa. Local companies offer three-month internships for students from these countries. The interns are integrated into host teams, and collaborate as quickly and productively as possible. Since 2011, 18 students have completed internships with Credit Suisse, most of whom were from Namibia. In the opposite direction, subject matter experts with backgrounds in academia and education teach at universities in Africa, generally for about three weeks. The topics taught range from food security to construction to various topics in economics and finance. By the end of 2016, 18 employees of the bank from Switzerland and the UK will have participated – one in Zambia, three in South Africa, and 14 in Namibia.
If you see me contributing to society significantly, be proud because you had a big hand in it.
Knowledge Benefits the Entire Society
Both the lecturers and the interns benefit significantly from these experiences, but the emphasis is of course always on the societal impact. For Stefan Scherrer, one thing is clear: "This transfer of expertise is a sensible method for supporting the development of African countries. Practice-oriented training for young people serves to help these countries become more competitive in the global economic system and achieve long-term growth independently." This belief is paralleled by the career paths of former interns, many of whom are still in touch with their teams, says Scherrer. All of them have found good jobs in their home countries, and several are already working in management positions. Most interns come from very poor backgrounds, and as such make an even more critical contribution to their communities with their acquired knowledge. These young people are eager to apply what they've learned and help their countries. For example, Hileni Elago from Namibia says the following about her internship with Credit Suisse Global MACS in 2014: "I will take back home and invest all the knowledge and skills that I have gained here, as it is needed to help develop and support my country." Bupe Chitumbo from Zambia feels the same way about his internship with Credit Suisse Real Estate in spring 2016: "My interactions with my team drove home the importance of innovation at the work place. If you see me contributing to society significantly, be proud because you had a big hand in it."
Volunteering Is Sustainable
Stefan Scherrer is convinced that these types of programs present a great opportunity for developing countries. Successful Corporate Citizenship programs go far beyond material support of charitable organizations. They require continuous engagement from committed individuals who work to ensure the necessary structures and services. This is where the Awards come full circle. Corporate Citizenship and volunteering are important tools for a company like Credit Suisse that is committed to supporting strong communities around the globe in order to fulfill their social responsibilities.