Collective action is key for a sustainable future

Our Chairman on why banks have an obligation to help change the world post COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted millions of people around the world, harming both the physical and economic health of many of the world’s nations and citizens.

And as a business leader I have spent a lot of time thinking about how we can do more. How can corporations help those affected by COVID-19? How can we make communities more resilient in the future? What role can we play in helping the world solve its biggest problems?

I was recently a guest at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network’s Virtual Conference and had the chance to discuss this very topic with the organisation’s CEO and Chairperson Naina Subberwal Batra. Following our conversation, I am more convinced than ever that banks have an obligation to help change the world.

Unlike the global financial crisis, where banks were part of the problem, banks can now be part of the solution. We can help alleviate the immediate liquidity issues and serve as the conduit between governments and communities to help deliver policy measures.

 

I’m extremely proud that Standard Chartered has been quick to act and we have already put several measures in place to help our people, our clients and the communities we serve during the pandemic.

We are prioritising the health and safety of employees, and have rolled out support schemes to help our clients weather the crisis  committing USD1 billion in financing to help companies that provide goods and services to help the fight against COVID-19. We’ve also launched a USD50 million Covid-19 assistance fund to support emergency relief in our most affected markets.

In addition, with the support of our regulators, we quickly rolled out relief measures across multiple markets for our retail and SME clients to cushion the impact of COVID-19. Several governments in Asia have launched or materially expanded the scope of SME loan guarantee schemes in response to the crisis. Our focus has been to ensure not only that clients are aware of the options available to them, but also that we are operationally ready to participate in these schemes and offer much-needed financing. These are just some of the examples of how we’re truly here for good. But our hard work doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there.

As economies look to restart, it is clear that reverting to the way things used to be will neither be feasible nor advisable. There needs to be a paradigm shift, and no one will benefit unless we can all benefit.

I was impressed to hear that AVPN members, both corporate and financial institutions, are putting aside competition and coming together for the good of communities.

How we collaborate and exactly what role we play in helping safeguard future generations, are, of course, just two of the key questions we must consider in the coming months and years. 

Standard Chartered is committed to playing a leading role in this and we will continue to promote sustainable development in our markets through our banking services. We will continue to work with our clients to help them make impactful investments and work with other private sector players to mobilise funding to where it matters and is needed most.

It is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. If we learnt anything from the current pandemic it's that doing nothing is simply not an option.