Seeing is Believing means business

September 1, 2009

The Seeing is Believing initiative at Stardard Chartered Bank

In 2003 Standard Chartered Bank asked its 28,000 strong staff how they thought the 150th anniversary of the business could best be celebrated or marked.

Remarkably, the response was not a request for pay rises or parties but a suggestion that the Bank make a contribution back to the communities in which we operate. The Bank recognised that the health of its business depended on the health of its communities. This led to the Seeing is Believing initiative. Joanna explains: "Our footprint stretches across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and 90% of avoidable blindness exists in developing economies, the VISION 2020 initiative was very relevant and something all staff could immediately empathise with. The fact that $30 could pay for an adult cataract operation was something we could relate to and we challenged all our staff to raise that each and they not only did that but doubled that target!

"Since then the Bank has raised over USD 16 million and on last year's World Sight Day in October we set ourselves a new target of contributing a further $20 million – which means raising $10 million and the Bank matching every dollar. What's great news is that we're now not just focusing on cataract issues but total eyecare systems in deprived urban communities – which are often next door to where we do business which means it is not only so it is a way of giving back but a way our staff can engage and see for themselves the difference we are making." Each year the bank encourages its employees to take twodays out a year doing voluntary work. Seeing is Believing presents a great opportunity for them to get involved. That could be screening or of course applying their business skills, such as helping an eye hospital implement an IT system or assisting NGOs with keeping formal accounting procedures."