VISA Unveils Significant New Corporate Social Responsibility Program as CGI Members Announce Major Progress in Implementing "Commitments to Action."
President Clinton today announced that members of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) — including 82 former and current heads of state and 325 CEOs have made nearly 1,000 "Commitments to Action" to improve over 200 million lives in more than 100 countries. CGI was launched by President Clinton in 2005.
"More than 200 million lives will be directly impacted by the nearly 1,000 commitments that have been made by CGI's diverse and non-partisan membership, which includes a third of the world's heads of state, along with business leaders, NGOs, academics and other top thinkers," said President Clinton. "We've accomplished so much already in just three years - a true testament to what can be achieved when the public and private sectors put ideas into action and bring resources to bear where they are needed most."
President Clinton made the announcement at CGI’s Mid-Year Meeting in New York City, which was open to the public.
John Partridge, Chief Operating Officer of Visa Inc., joined President Clinton at the meeting to announce the first CGI Commitment to Action of 2008: the launch of Visa Inc.’s first Corporate Social Responsibility program. As part of its commitment, Visa Inc. announced a new three-year partnership with Oxfam America to support humanitarian aid and poverty alleviation projects. Over five years, Visa Inc. commits to reach at least 10 million people with financial literacy services around the world.
The meeting also featured remarks from several commitment makers. These include:
- Dr. R.K. Pachauri who is Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007. He discussed the global climate emergency and his CGI Commitment entitled "Light a Million Lives," to bring light to one million people in India by replacing kerosene and paraffin lanterns with solar power lighting devices.
- Martín Burt, of Fundacíon Paraguaya, who discussed the progress of “Education that Pays for Itself,” a commitment to provide business training to disadvantaged youth in rural areas to equip them to become entrepreneurs. As part of this commitment, Fundacíon Paraguaya recently hosted the first International Conference on Self-Sufficient Schools, where 140 participants from 20 countries met to explore the creation of innovative high school curricula to train young people to manage small-scale agricultural enterprises on their campuses.
- Lizzy Dupont, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, shared her experiences from the inaugural meeting of CGI University (CGI U), where she committed to create links between deaf communities in Austin, Texas and Mali.
In addition to highlighting CGI Commitments to Action, President Clinton discussed the expansion of the CGI model to new audiences via CGI U, CGI International, and MyCommitment.org.
In March, more than 600 college students from nearly every U.S. state and 14 countries came together in New Orleans for the inaugural meeting of CGI U.
In December, President Clinton will travel to Hong Kong to launch the first meeting of CGI International. Beginning in Asia, CGI International will supplement the CGI Annual Meeting in New York with meetings in various regions of the world to examine issues and challenges of importance to leaders in that region.
President Clinton encouraged everybody in the general public to join the CGI community by making a commitment on MyCommitment.org. Since the launch of the online portal at the CGI Annual Meeting in September 2007, people from more than 180 countries have logged on to MyCommitment.org and have pledged 96,300 hours of volunteer service and 40,000 items for donation to improve the lives of others.
First 2008 CGI Commitment
Corporate Responsibility Program; Visa; CGI Commitment 2008
Visa Inc.’s commitment is the first of 2008, initiating a new program of Corporate Social Responsibility. The program has three pillars: first, Visa Inc. is committed to upholding the highest ethical business practices and responsible operations. Second, Visa Inc. is committed to playing a role in improving the well-being of individuals around the world, by working with leading humanitarian aid organizations that have the expertise and mission to help individuals in vulnerable communities. Third, through a combination of their payments expertise and focused philanthropic efforts, Visa Inc. can play a role in addressing the long-term challenge of poverty. To these ends, Visa Inc. will fund and build projects that empower individuals from vulnerable communities to improve their lives with access to formal banking systems and financial services, and aid in promoting entrepreneurship and small business development. In doing so, Visa Inc. is committed to providing financial literacy to at least 10 million people over the next five years.
Examples of CGI Commitments to Action
“Lighting a Million Lives in India”
Commitment to Action by Dr. RK Pachauri and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in 2007
More than 78 million households (or roughly 390 million people) in India lack access to electricity, forcing life to a standstill after dusk. At the CGI Annual Meeting in 2007, TERI committed to bring light into the lives of rural people over four years by displacing kerosene and paraffin lanterns with solar lighting devices, and providing opportunities for livelihoods both at the individual and village level.
This since has been expanded to the Light a Billion Lives Campaign to benefit many more people in India and around the world. The campaign was formally inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on February 7, 2008, during the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. The campaign has been running successfully in Kakdwip, a small town in southern West Bengal, where more than 200 households have been illuminated. In a small village in Haryana, the campaign touches up to 50 households. In other locations, where implementation is underway, local youth and women run the charging stations, thus generating local entrepreneurial development, and small-scale industries, and local shops have noticed expanded business since they started carrying the lanterns. Each solar lantern typically displaces use of 2-3 kerosene lanterns in a household, and about 500 kerosene lanterns have been displaced so far. Eight institutional sponsors have come forward to sponsor villages in India, and about 60 individuals have become sponsors of the lanterns.
“Education that Pays for Itself”
Commitment to Action made by Fundación Paraguaya in 2007
Fundación Paraguaya committed at the CGI Annual Meeting in 2007 to expand its innovative approach of quality high school education in sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship to an additional 50 developing countries and schools by 2017, directly impacting 120,000 disadvantaged youth from rural areas. The successful model seeks to integrate small-scale, on-campus agricultural enterprises into high school education, giving rural youth the entrepreneurial skills and business acumen they need to become successful self-employed entrepreneurs.
Since the Annual Meeting in 2007, Fundación Paraguaya has held the first International Conference on Self-Sufficient Schools with 140 participants from 20 countries in Paraguay, where they launched the idea of reinventing rural education through entrepreneurship. The Second International Conference will be held November 2008 in South Africa. Fundación Paraguaya strengthened their partnerships with the Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Avina Foundation, Educating Africa Foundation, and the Peery Foundation to help them develop a global network. Their network is called “Teach A Man To Fish” and has 600 members from 80 countries. Fundación Paraguaya partnered with international NGOs such as the Nike Foundation, CARE, Opportunity International, and Christian Children’s Fund to build or transform rural schools in South America, Africa, and India. They have projects in 13 countries thus far, and plan to reach 50 countries by 2017. They are working with the Inter American Development Bank and their inclusive business division called “Opportunity for the Majority” to allocate funds and/or provide loans. Finally, they received a commitment from a Swiss social venture capital firm called Alpha Mundi Group to help raise US$ 15 million in grants.
“Creating Cross-Cultural Links Between Deaf Communities”
CGI U Commitment to Action by Lizzy Dupont in 2008
In partnership with Johan van der Walt, Ms. Dupont seeks to provide health education for deaf students. The two students will create a three-way partnership between L’Ecole Deficient Auditif in Bamako, Mali, where Ms. Dupont has worked, the Texas School for the Deaf, and the American Sign Language Department at UT-Austin. Students in Austin and Mali will prepare videos for each other addressing health issues faced by both groups, and incorporating educational information provided by the project organizers. The experience of producing the videos will provide the students with practical information and instruction in safe sex and HIV/AIDS-STI awareness, in a manner that is responsive to the specific challenges faced by deaf youth. Health materials like antibacterial soap, condoms, or basic wound care kits will supplement the theme of each film. This cultural exchange has the potential to spread throughout the six schools for the deaf in Mali to other nations like Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Morocco, where American Sign Language adapted for Francophone West Africa is also used.
“Microfinance Finance Facility”
Commitment to Action by Standard Chartered Bank in 2006
At the CGI Annual Meeting in 2006, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) made a commitment to provide development organizations and fund managers with $500 million worth of credit and financial instruments that they could use to finance microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Africa and Asia, benefiting 4 million people over the commitment’s five-year implementation.
As a result, the Bank has formed 48 microfinance partnerships in 15 different countries across these regions. The Bank’s portfolio has grown to $180 million, with investments of $280 million (including provision of credit and financial instruments) benefiting an estimated 1.8 million lives to date, of which 80% are women. Standard Chartered also led a consortium in Bangladesh to sign a $55 million deal with BRAC, Bangladesh’s largest MFI. The structure of the loan – unsecured over seven years – is a milestone for lending activity by an international bank in Bangladesh. In December 2007, SCB became the first foreign bank in China to establish a complete microfinance program, lending directly to farmers in China. The MoU signed between Standard Chartered Bank and Esquel will assist local cotton farmers in enhancing productivity, increasing farmers’ income, and improving living standards.
“Renewable & Clean Energy Financing in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East”
Commitment to Action by Standard Chartered Bank in 2007
At the CGI Annual Meeting in 2007, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) committed to take a leading role in the financing of new renewable and clean energy projects by arranging debt, advising on finance, or acting as an equity investor in wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, and other areas with a total project value of $8-10 billion over five years.
Five months into the commitment’s implementation, SCB has taken a leading role in closing the deal on the 250 Megawatt Bujagali hydro-power project in Uganda in December 2007. The project totals $880 million and construction has commenced. When fully implemented, the project will halve the price of power in Uganda, help displace diesel-powered generators, and result in significant CO2 emissions reductions. This transaction won the Euromoney African Power Deal of the Year for 2007 in February 2008. In March, 2008 “Sinan”, a 20 Megawatt solar photovoltaic project in South Korea, the largest in the world being commissioned to date, won the Euromoney Asia Pacific Renewable Deal of the Year, 2007 in Hong Kong. SCB was the financial advisor and underwriter for this $160 million transaction. Early in 2008 SCB transacted its first carbon trade under the Clean Development Mechanism. The bank purchased Certified Emissions Reductions from a client in South Asia. The Group has recently established a carbon trading team, based in Dubai and is currently transacting deals in the European wind sector and the Asian wind and solar sectors.
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