Types of Projects
Since its launch in 1992, the Sparkassenstiftung has been implementing technical assistance projects covering all areas of banking and related business. However, the Sparkassenstiftung mainly chooses to focus on six project types - areas in which German Sparkassen have been extremely successful themselves.
Development of Retail Banks
German Sparkassen have developed over the past 50 years from traditional savings institutions into the most modern and efficient retail banks in Germany. Through its projects which cover a wide range of topics, including product development, credit-risk management, workflow and procedures right through to corporate governance, the Sparkassenstiftung aims to make this experience available to partner institutions worldwide. The Sparkassenstiftung's partner institutions include state-owned banks (Uzbekistan), cooperative banks (Mexico), private commercial banks (Tajikistan), savings banks (China), postal banks (Tanzania) and others (Aserbaijan).
International donor organisations are increasingly making funds available to banks for onlending to SMEs. With its tried-and-tested methodology, the Sparkassenstiftung manages credit lines on behalf of donors such as the EU or KfW and supports participating banks in the establishment of lending procedures, including suitable risk-management systems. Examples are the German-Azerbaijanian Fund in Azerbaijan, but also the Sparkassen Reconstruction Fund within the scope of the Tsunami Aid in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Often microfinance NGOs fail to achieve sustainability and disappear as soon as the supply of low-cost donor funds and subsidies dries up. However, the Sparkassenstiftung remains convinced that a highly professional approach and a social mandate are not a contradiction in terms - after all, German Sparkassen have been demonstrating this for some 200 years now. Thus, by helping NGOs develop into formal financial institutions, the Sparkassenstiftung is helping create sustainable financial institutions with a strong social mandate. Examples for a successful transformation of unregulated microfinance institutions into formal microfinance banks are CARD (Philippines), TYM Fund (Vietnam) and the Cajas de Ahorro y Crédito in Mexico. In Laos and Bhutan Sparkassenstiftung supports the establishment of new microfinance institutions, in other countries (Rwanda, Colombia) the development of microfinance associations.
Human Resource Development and Training
The basis of successful banking operations is a well qualified work force at all levels. As a result, human resource development (HRD) and training are an integral part of every Sparkassenstiftung project. In addition to this, the Sparkassenstiftung also organises projects which focus exclusively on HRD and training. Examples include the establishment of bank training centres (like in many Central and East European countries as well as in Azerbaijan), the development of curricula and training courses (Ghana), the organisation of seminars and conferences (Bank Management Training, Caucasus Conference Series), on-the-job training (Serbia) and train-the-trainer inputs (Laos).
To assist countries in their transition it is vital to ensure the existence of an adequate financial or banking sector. The Sparkassenstiftung has conducted a number of studies detailing various options for future financial-sector development and has provided technical assistance to many central banks and bank supervisory authorities, ministries and law-makers. Although assistance of this kind generally takes place on an analytical level, it does also relate to the design and implementation of hands-on restructuring processes (as supported by the Sparkassenstiftung in China, Mexico and Russia).
Financial Literacy and Mobilisation of Savings
Knowing basic financial correlations is often the key for poorer people to provide for the future and take precautions against dubious providers of financial services and overindeptedness. For that reason Sparkassenstiftung supports its project partners in improving their Financial Literacy.
In many developing countries lacking social safety systems, saving is the only option to provide for emergencies. Hence, Financial Literacy and the mobilisation of savings are not only an integral part of Sparkassenstiftung’s overall goal, namely to reduce poverty, but more than often a distinct project goal, as for example in projects executed in Mexico, Rwanda and Uzbekistan.