By operating in the financial market according to the principles of ethically oriented finance, an ethical bank is characterized by its offer of an investment portfolio coherent with its mission, carried out through direct investments in sustainable environment, renewable energy, social housing – housing scheme direct to subjects unable to incur costs of free trade –, social enterprise and microcredit. In microcredit, an ethical bank carries out its primary function to bear on allocation, that is to say it directs financing in favour of those normally discriminated against by traditional banks. Leaning on the willingness of consumers and savers to pay more depending on the social and environmental value of the offered financial products, the institution succeeds in establishing lower than market value interest rates. The clients’ faith is repaid by the institution's guarantee of absolute transparency of their management and investment of the savings. Indeed, those who deposit their savings in an ethical bank provide the bank with a specific proxy in terms of their choices for supplying credit. That proxy can then stick with the selection criteria of the borrowers (where, for example, attention is given to the ethical use of finance, or where one indicates an ensemble of product sectors towards which they converge) or with specific procedures to follow for the utilization of the credit.
The Ethical Bank was inspired by Grameen Bank, the first Banking for the Poor institution founded in Bangladesh in 1976 by Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 2006). The most significant experiences of ethical banking in Europe include those of Triodos Bank, Okobank, and Banca Popolare Etica in Italy.
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Editor: Federica ALFANI