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The Sparkassen were set up in Germany over 200 years ago as microfinance institutions for low-income earners. Since then, they have grown into one of the largest financial groups in the world – one that successfully combines outstanding professionalism with a strong social mandate. Tasked with sharing this successful model with developing countries and emerging economies, German Sparkassenstiftung for International Cooperation (DSIK) is bringing financial services to the people who live there. Ultimately, this is intended to help them become more prosperous and establish stable economic structures of their own.
DSIK assists local financial institutions to manage their businesses in keeping with commercial principles while fulfilling their social responsibilities.
German Sparkassenstiftung provides proactive support to financial institutions that sustainably foster economic and social development at the local, regional or national level through needs-oriented banking services. DSIK’s goal is to assist its partner institutions to become more professional and therefore able to give their customers permanent access to financial services. The main target groups are small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), as well as poor and socially marginalised groups. This orientation to SMEs and low-income earners actually benefits our partners too, because delivering services to these customer segments secures ongoing stable and satisfactory returns.
By strengthening local and regional financial structures, DSIK not only generates development opportunities for wide sections of the population and local companies, but ultimately also helps to create jobs and income.
This complies with the approach and objectives of Germany's Sparkassen. It also has a stabilising effect on the respective financial sector and, as a result, on the given country's economic development. With their 200-year history, Germany's Sparkassen show that sustainable microfinance is only feasible if it is organised efficiently and professionally. And it is these key success factors that German Sparkassenstiftung communicates to its partners through its project work.
German Sparkassenstiftung's work is guided by three principles: partnership-based cooperation in a spirit of mutual trust; the transfer of key success factors from the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe and the implementation of practice-oriented solutions.
Counterpart institutions are not perceived as clients but as partners. By engaging in a spirit of mutual trust, German Sparkassenstiftung promotes their sustainable development and works with them to build up long-term professional relationships.
In the course of their 200-year history, German Sparkassen have evolved into the most successful financial group in the German banking sector. Their nationwide branch network, cutting-edge technologies and distribution channels enable them to stay in close contact with their customers, particularly with private individuals and SMEs. Sparkassen operate locally which means they share the same interest in a healthy local economy as the rest of the region. One of the ways they endeavour to promote growth, for example, is by investing deposits from the region back into the region in the form of loans. Furthermore, although they are economically and legally independent institutions, Sparkassen engage in intensive mutual cooperation, a practice that allows them to attain a high degree of efficiency.
Even if the environment in Germany differs greatly from the prevailing conditions in developing countries and emerging economies, the transfer of success factors – adapted to suit local conditions – also leads to positive outcomes there as well.
German Sparkassenstiftung owes it success to the expertise and practical experience of the people employed in the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. Together with local experts trained by German Sparkassenstiftung, practitioners from the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe channel their state-of-the-art knowledge into the design of customised solutions and assist their partner institutions to implement them. Besides making for a high degree of acceptance, this approach also secures project success over the longer term.