The first ethical and sustainable bank in the world – it’s now 46 years since the GLS Bank (a community bank for lending and gifting) was founded in Bochum.
Between fair fashion and slow food at a trade fair that I visited, I was asked the question: ‘Have you ever heard of a sustainable bank?’ I had to shrug and admit that the idea of a connection between sustainability and banking was new to me. The brochure spent some time in a drawer, however, until I finally addressed this topic and was surprised to see the fields in which banks are investing some of their customers’ money. The transparency of sustainable banks has made it easier for me to find out what makes them different from conventional financial institutions. They exclude investments in e.g. arms, genetic engineering, food speculation and companies that allow human rights violations.
‘GLS Bank Spiegel – All new loans: whatever topics and regions are close to your heart, here you will find out exactly what effect your money is having’
As a client of a sustainable bank, I like having the option to support environmental and social projects and to be able to take part in the decision about what to do with my money. The GLS magazine ‘Bank Spiegel’, published every six months, shows all the loans granted to business customers and which projects money has been invested in. When you open an account at the GLS Bank, you can select one of six future-proofed core sectors to lend to.
- Sustainbale Economies (e.g. Fair Fashion, Building sustainable bicycles etc.)
- Food (e.g. organic agriculture, unpacked stores etc.)
- Education & Culture (e.g. education trough equality of opportunites, education for children in Africa etc.)
- Renewable Energies (e.g. hydroelectric power stations, solar power plants etc.)
- Social & Health (e.g. schools, retirement homes, Behinderteneinrichtungen etc.)
- Living (e.g. Living in multigeneration houses, in tiny houses, corporate living etc.)
With 18,000 ATMs in the Volks- and Raiffeisenbank network, it’s easy for customers to withdraw money free of charge. When I founded Lai Chun, I looked at three ethical banks, and after some careful research I quickly chose the GLS Bank as it best matched my priorities. The banking license provides customer security in accordance with German deposit guarantees. In addition to the many ways I can withdraw my money on the go, compared to the competitors I also get a credit card without a third-party provider, and with a choice of eight bank branches in Germany, I can arrange a personal conversation on the spot. Which, however, wasn’t needed to open my account – it was quickly done at the kitchen table at home, using video identification!
Digital Climate Dialogue
#sharedichdrum and take a look at the first GLS Klima X week! A digital experiment with provocative questions to the GLS Board of Directors and intensive discussions with over 20 speakers such as Dr Eckart von Hirschhausen and Luisa Neubauer, and exciting insights into many sustainable projects and the work with and inside a sustainable bank.
According to the GLS Bank it only takes 9 minutes to switch your account.
Try it out : )
P.S.: Under www.fairfinanceguide.de you can check where your bank is investing.