Outstanding Crisis Leadership 2020: Community

For entities that have made exceptional efforts to support their communities general well-being.

EFG Hermes hygiene kits, distributed in bags produced by small, women-owned businesses.


“The very mission statement of our bank is literally ‘to help people and businesses to improve their lives,’ and we take it seriously,” says Alexis Lacroix, CEO Alfa-Bank Belarus. The group donated the annual income of one of its companies, about 1 billion, to the Russian government’s anti-Covid-19 initiatives. Separately, its principal operating units, in Russia and Belarus, have each plunged into helping their communities weather the Covid storm.

As a systemically important bank, Alfa-Bank Russia helped consumers and businesses financially; for the community, it donated sanitizers, personal protective equipment and laptop computers for remote study to orphanages and foster homes. It purchased new equipment and supplies for medical facilities and arranged activities for frontline workers to bolster mental health.

Along with supporting the Red Cross and the Good Phone project, a free hotline for elderly Belarusians, and providing customers with a concierge service for medicines and other goods, Alfa-Bank Belarus has been looking after its own. Employees have received an average 12.5% raise and upgraded medical insurance and the bank kept morale high by producing a variety show for employees, The Alfa-Bank Night Show.   


While the El Salvadoran government imposed a quarantine and lockdown when the pandemic hit, Banco Cuscatlán has maintained service to its customers and even completed an acquisition of Financieras ScotiaBank El Salvador. Through it all, CEO Jose Eduardo Luna communicated steadily with staff to keep them motivated as they shifted to remote work. The bank has helped customers financially during this period and improved technology platforms and products as demand for digital banking increases.

As the community began to feel the effects of the pandemic, Banco Cuscatlán purchased Covid-19 tests for 60,000 Salvadorians, and provided household appliances to containment centers, chartered a humanitarian flight to repatriate Salvadorans from Panama and Belize, and when Tropical Storm Amanda hit, distributed food packages to the affected populations.   


In addition to maintaining business continuity and helping clients finance services and goods for the community following the outbreak, Bank of China (BOC) USA donated shipments of PPE to frontline responders and helped fund the ICU and emergency room expansion of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The U.S. subsidiary of one of China’s largest banks donated to the Covid-19 Ventilators Fund, the York-Presbyterian-Queens Covid-19 Healthcare Worker Fund and the Covid-19 Relief Fund for the Robin Hood Foundation. BOC U.S.A. has also provided 4,150 meals for essential workers.

“In times of turmoil, we make every effort to go above and beyond in expanding our charitable giving efforts and provide relief for the hardest hit communities in our local footprint,” says Peter Reisman, managing director and chief communications officer.


Along with a focus on business continuity that includes building up its digital banking channels, Bank of Georgia’s primary post-outbreak initiatives have prioritized the community. The bank purchased medical supplies for the Ministry of Health that included 20,000 tests, 10 ventilators, 50,000 masks and 60,000 gloves. As schools shifted from to remote, it financed a year of internet access for 300 families, enabling their children to continue their education; helped create online informal education and summer courses for primary school students; and gifted Zoom Education licenses to the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.


Perhaps the biggest blow the Bermuda and Cayman Islands economies suffered from the pandemic was a collapse in tourism; Butterfield stepped in to help. In partnership with The Loren Hotel and local churches, the bank delivered 500 to 1,000 meals daily to elderly and vulnerable island residents. It chartered a flight to bring Bermudian college students home after US colleges and universities shut down. In the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, where Butterfield acquired a presence last year, they worked with local restaurant Les Cotils and Bright Beginnings Children’s Centre to donate meals to frontline workers and families. The bank also diverted funds earmarked for events to instead support Cambridge University’s Covid-19 Research Fund and other non-profits exploring treatments for the coronavirus.

“We recognize that our role within the communities we call home extends beyond providing financial services,” says Neff, managing director of Bermuda and International Wealth at Butterfield.        


CIBC Mellon adopted Together in Action, a program under which the bank makes a donation per employee to participate in a volunteering event connected to Covid-19 relief, which can include events not tied to a specific organization or team initiative. Staff can make masks, deliver groceries to the vulnerable, and virtually chat with seniors, and log these activities to secure donations from the bank. CIBC allocates $100 per hour of volunteering toward a donation of up to $25,000 per employee to an organization or organizations selected by the employee.

CIBC Mellon also matches 50% and later, 100% for employee donations to the Red Cross to support its emergency response in Asia; $10,000 to Pathways to Education; $10,000 to ConquerCOVID19.ca, a non-profit that has purchased and distributed PPEs during the pandemic; $25,000 to Food Banks Canada; and $30,000 to local organizations working toward racial justice.


North Carolina’s Coastal Credit Union Foundation is directing assistance to local non-profits that assist groups that have suffered some of the worst economic fallout from the Covid-precipitated economic crisis. It has provided grants in excess of $1 million to provide community assistance in response to Covid, over three rounds of funding. Programs the credit union benefited include the NC Restaurant Relief Fund, which received $100,000 to help local restaurant employees left without work by business closures as a result of the coronavirus. Another $100,000 grant helped the United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Rapid Response Fund to serve meals to vulnerable residents. The Kramden Institute, which provide computers to public school and community college students, and the Wake Tech Foundation’s Completion Scholarships program both received $50,000 from the credit union.


In January, Kyrgyzstan’s Demirbank installed 10 new Cash-IN ATMs in different cities, allowing customers to deposit funds in addition to withdrawing cash.

In July, the bank installed new bus stops in Bishkek, the capital and largest city, to help alleviate overcrowding and congregating while Covid-19 cases were peaking. Demirbank is also directing resources to the communities more basic needs. It is partnering with Red Crescent and Bishkek’s city government to provide humanitarian support to 2,000 needy families in the capital and other regions during the pandemic. And it is working with other financial institutions and the Union of Banks of Kyrgyzstan to supply medical equipment to health care providers, including six ventilators, 100 oxygen concentrators and 1,000 pulse oximeters (heart rate monitors) that the partners gave to the Ministry of Health.


Doha Bank focused its Covid-related contributions to persons most in need as a result of the pandemic. It recently contributed QR2 million to Qatar Charity’s to provide food and medical supplies to quarantined migrant workers. To support an e-learning initiative launched by Qatar Charity, the bank contributed 1,000 tablets that will help students resume their education online during the period of social isolation. Additionally, after the August Beirut harbor explosion left over 200 people dead and 6,500 injured while destroying or damaging much of the city’s heart, Doha Bank contributed QR300,000 to Lebanon in Our Hearts, a fundraising campaign to support the Lebanese people.


EFG Hermes collaborated with the Egyptian Food Bank to feed 10,000 families affected by lockdowns, while employee donations helped a Covid-19 relief fund support 1,500 temporary laborers’ families. The bank supported distribution of health information and 600 hygiene kits packaged in bags produced by small, women-owned businesses, and gave  E£20 million to the Tahya Misr Fund, for social development projects. The Foundation even partnered with Luxor officials to furnish a quarantine unit for 70 people in the city area, and five sanitization gates.


Emirates NBD Bank, along with Emirates Islamic, donated $1.09 million to provide laptops to students in the UAE so they could continue to receive education during the pandemic. The bank donated $2.73 million to the Social Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19 and $1.36 million to the 10 Million Meals campaign. The bank itself sponsors an e-volunteering program that has skilled employees delivering online webinars, tutorials and classes in languages, yoga, cooking and gardening to fellow employees and their families.


Itaú Unibanco supplied an initial donation of R$1 billion in April to launch Todos pela Saúde (All for Health), a collaborative program to fight the pandemic. The initiative has helped a wide range of people with tests and care, from the elderly and vulnerable to truck drivers, and provides medical and personal protection equipment to hospitals. Itaú Unibanco has also invested R$40 million to research new vaccines. The bank, which has gained more than 1 million new users on its digital channels during the pandemic, is also working to add more than 30 new functions, along with tutorials to explain the new features.


KCB contributed Ksh150 million to the government’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund while branches of the bank make donations of their own and the KCB Foundation supports a wide range of projects, from hydroponic greenhouse farming to nutrition for high school students. The foundation is helping vocational students upgrade skills to reduce youth unemployment, which has soared during the crisis. The bank extended $92 million of loans to customers using its mobile banking platform and KCB M-pesa with Safaricom and waived fees for transfers between customers’ mobile money wallets and bank accounts.


Sai Gon Hanoi Bank’s online banking services, especially in cross-border sales, got a boost from the increased use of remote services following the outbreak, gaining 100,000 new customers. SHB partners with the government’s SME development fund to extend low-cost funding, and is partnering with Amazon Vietnam to help SMEs sell online. The bank is donating to the Covid-19 fund through the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee. It leads a “Strong Faith in Vietnam” campaign, opening accounts to receive donations for frontline workers, soldiers and others infected with the virus. SHB also shored up its solvency, issuing more than 500 million shares to keep its capital ratio above 10%.


Since the pandemic outbreak, Société Générale Morocco focused on helping SMEs survive the economic crisis. It offers special overdrafts and medium-term credits to help small companies revive their businesses under a guarantee facility set up with the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The bank also launched a collaborative platform in partnership with Maroc Impact, Daba Solutions, to connect people in need with project leaders who can help them, and another platform, Daba Info, that offers news, health and safety advice, remote working tools and tips for improving the stay-at-home experience under social isolation. In March, Société Générale contributed $12 million to King Mohammed VI’s Covid-19 relief fund; it also donated computers for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in online learning.


TDB Group, parent of Kenya’s Trade and Development Bank, provides development finance for Eastern and Southern Africa and has worked to scale up efforts to fight Covid-19 in this region. As the pandemic started, TDB mitigated the health and economic shocks by ensuring business continuity and repositioning itself to strongly respond to the pandemic.

To ensure liquidity for corporate finance and short- and long-term trade, TDB designed and implemented solutions for its sovereign and corporate clients to keep their developmental objectives on track.

The bank also leveraged blockchain technology to facilitate access to trade finance and counter any disruptions to supply chains and it has completed end-to-end trade finance transactions using this technology. Executives credit blockchain with several advantages over paper-heavy processes, including speed of transaction and cost efficiencies.


Standard Chartered is working with development-sector partners in Bangladesh to help communities hit hard by the pandemic. With BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities), the bank has provided food and hygiene support to 170,000 people, or 5.7 million meals, and had paid for medical services for 460 critically ill Covid patients through the Sajida and Bidyanondo foundations. The bank has donated $1.3 million to UNICEF for care and remote education for children separated from their families because of the virus and given $300,000 to Red Cross programs to support health care workers on the frontlines. Standard Chartered has also advocated for a credit guarantee scheme for SMEs, which is now being implemented by Bangladesh bank, the nation’s central bank.

Methodology: Behind the Rankings

Selection was limited to entities that submitted entries. After an initial review by a panel of three independent judges, those whose efforts were on par with peers (rather than above the average) were eliminated. The remaining entrants were evaluated, scored in each category and ranked separately by each of the judges as well as two Global Finance editors. Scoring took into consideration local conditions and the capacity of the entrant, and awarded points for speed, innovation and cross-border reach.