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GLS Bank

Bochum (D). When people pursue a common goal, they can achieve a great deal. A parents’ initiative involving just over 1,000 people wanted to do something meaningful with their money. They founded a bank, which in itself is not something that happens every day. But then they started compiling a checklist for the securities and credit business.
They apply the following negative investment criteria: breaches of human rights, breaches of basic and labour rights, child labour, animal experimentation, controversial environmental activity, controversial economic practices, nuclear power, biocides, chlororganic mass production, embryo research, agro-genetic engineering, pornography, armaments, narcotics.
Instead, they invest their money in socially and ecologically oriented businesses, social commitment, ecological agriculture, international development goals, energy efficiency and regenerative energy, energy-efficient transport systems, efficient use of resources, facilities for the disabled and housing projects, free schools and kindergartens, culture, organic shops and marketing, anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, plant and natural remedies…
This bank has been operating since 1974, nowadays with 420 bankers working in seven branches. They now look after some 120,000 clients. There are no commissions or bonuses for managers. Instead, staff earn more when they have children to look after. Transparency is key. All loans that are granted are published in a magazine that appears four times a year.
This is the GLS Bank, the first socially and ecologically responsible bank in Europe, with a turnover of more than 2.5 billion euros in 2012. And membership figures are also appreciable, with the GLS bank by now belonging to 21,636 members.
But there’s more. The “Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken” (Community Bank for Loans and Gifts) has its own charitable trust foundation. This brings wealthy clients together with projects that urgently need money: e.g. help for Nepalese organic farmers, school projects in Uganda, production of medicinal plants in India…
Further information: http://www.gls.de/die-gls-bank/ueber-uns/gls-bank/english-portrait/

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