The global context

We live in a time of uncertainty and opportunity. Despite a deepening economic crisis in some parts of the world, there is an unprecedented chance to both reinvent failing systems and build on a growing movement of sustainable initiatives. This pattern of positive change is gathering momentum. It has seen the impact of values-driven enterprises increase significantly, at the forefront of a new way of living, working and doing business.

At the same time, Europe’s precarious financial position has continued to occupy the attention of politicians and press alike during the first half of the year. For most, Europe’s capacity to reinvent itself is dependent on its ability to ‘solve’ the euro crisis. But the founders of the European Project were not, primarily, concerned with technical issues like its currency. They were committed to an idea, and to shared values that they believed united the region and would bring peace and later prosperity in the broadest sense, beyond short term wealth.

Triodos Bank does not pretend to know how to fix Europe; a company is different to a continent and Triodos Bank is far from perfect itself. But with more than 30 years experience and five growing branches in The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Germany, it knows something about what makes European unity in diversity work. And its success is largely because the bank, including its country offices, has put shared values before local, short term interests. Triodos Bank is part of a growing movement of entrepreneurs and their values-led businesses.

Like Triodos Bank, most are relatively small but growing rapidly. They don’t aspire to be big for its own sake but their success has meant growing influence. From local food initiatives to sophisticated green businesses, they want to have a deeper impact on their communities and the environment around them.

Within Triodos Bank itself, this focus on values has continued to drive growth across the group in the first half of the year, with the total amount of assets under management, including Triodos Bank and funds under management, up by 8%, to EUR 7.3 billion. This has been most striking in Spain where Triodos Bank now has 12 commercial offices. In a short time the Spanish branch has grown its savings so that it now wholly finances its own lending from the deposits made by its savers. As in the other countries where Triodos Bank operates, its popularity is growing as large numbers of people choose to move their money to Triodos Bank where they can use it more consciously.

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