The International Association of Investors in the Social Economy (INAISE) has said that social financing “is working”, ahead of its annual conference at which it will call for cultural change within the finance industry.
INAISE is a global network of socially and environmentally oriented financial institutions. The organisation allows social investors worldwide to share their experiences and disseminate information. It aims to show that money can be used to achieve positive social and environmental change.
Members of INAISE, which include Charity Bank, Ecology Building Society, Triodos Bank and GLS Bank, cover a wide range of sectors from renewable energy and health centres to community housing and fairtrade.
Dominique Lesaffre, president of INAISE, commented, “Even though we were founded in Europe, we are active through our members on all continents. This reflects the global development of financial interaction and also the importance and will to exchange about challenges and chances of social and solidarity finance.”
The theme for this year’s conference, taking place at GLS Bank in Bochum, Germany, on Thursday, is ‘Mobilising Social Finance Globally’. The conference gives members an opportunity to learn from each other and come up with solutions to the challenges they are facing. This year, it also focused on four specific areas – co-operatives, agriculture, renewable energy and solidarity activities.
Speaking about the benefits of INAISE, Andreas Neukirch, CEO of GLS Bank, said, “From different points of view we gain new perspectives, ideas and power for our work – especially as we understand: in fact we’re all globally working on the same questions, like agriculture and food, cooperative structures, energy, protection of resources or solidarity based financing models.”
Demand for social finance has been growing and research suggests that values-based bank outperform the world’s biggest institutions. A report published last year by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values found that value-based banks offer better returns on assets and provide more capital to the real economy.
Malcolm Hayday, founder and former CEO of Charity Bank and now CEO of the Institute for Social Banking, added, “A cultural change in finance, which is aimed by all of the INAISE members, can only be accomplished, of we carry our ideas out into the world, exchange possibilities and problems, but also offer education. Because obviously actors in finance act as they were taught.”