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Germany's Sparkassen have evolved from traditional savings institutions into the most efficient and state-of-the-art retail banks in Germany today. Sparkassenstiftung harnesses this experience for the benefit of its partner institutions worldwide. Its projects deal with issues such as product development, credit risk management, work processes and corporate governance standards.
In many countries without a social protection system, saving is the only option people have for surviving a financial emergency. Having a basic understanding of the way money works is especially beneficial for poor households, as it makes them better prepared for emergencies and protects them against rogue money lenders and overindebtedness. Sparkassenstiftung assists its project partners and their customers to improve their basic financial literacy skills and to mobilise their savings.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are the bedrock of economic growth and employment. Sparkassenstiftung assists banks and microfinance institutions to roll out and professionalise SME lending – from product design through to staff training.
Microfinance enables large sections of the population to access needs-oriented financial services. Sparkassenstiftung is convinced that economic sustainability and a social mandate are not mutually contradictory. And Germany's Sparkassen have been successfully proving this theory for the past 200 years. Sparkassenstiftung assists microfinance institutions to develop new savings and lending products and helps them to improve their internal workflows.
The secret to successful banking is highly qualified staff – at all levels. HR development and training is therefore an integral component of all Sparkassenstiftung projects. Moreover, Sparkassenstiftung engages in projects that focus exlusively on this topic. Examples include the establishment of training academies, the introduction of the dual vocational education and training system, the design of training courses (e.g. banking simulations) or the organisation of seminars and train-the-trainer programmes.
A fully functioning financial sector is of central importance for a country's development. Sparkassenstiftung therefore assists governments and central banks to develop and enforce corresponding laws and regulations. Furthermore, it promotes the establishment of professional associations, empowering them to offer their generally small member institutions vital services at a fair price.