People on low incomes have a hard time getting financial services from the banks. This is true the world over. In Central and Eastern Europe there is a particular problem of social and financial exclusion due to limited access to banking services. This affects small-scale entrepreneurs, such as farmers and shopkeepers, as well as the social enterprise sector which adopts a business approach to tackle social problems.
In the Central and South Eastern European countries, around 35 million people do not even have a simple current bank account. There is a clear need for small-scale sensible loans and additional support for enterprising individuals and communities. A combination of Micro-Banking and Social Enterprise Finance can play a real part in renewing the region, both economically and socially.
good.bee makes financial services more accessible to previously ‘underbanked’ individuals and businesses in Central and Eastern Europe. This commitment to banking the many, not the few, is in our very DNA: founded in 1819, the first Austrian savings bank, ERSTE Oesterreichische Spar-Casse, served mainly craftsmen and industrial workers. Two centuries on, good.bee economically empowers individuals and communities in Central and Eastern Europe by offering financial services and support where these have been sorely lacking.
It develops innovative solutions to break down the barriers to financial inclusion; it develops microfinance ventures across the region; it offers, through the local Erste Group banks, responsible and accessible financial solutions, and builds awareness of this socially responsible approach to finance.
good.bee was launched in 2008 by ERSTE Foundation and Erste Group Bank, with the Foundation holding a 40% stake. Its main areas of business are Micro-Banking and Social Enterprise Finance.
good.bee’s two first Micro-Banking operations: ‘good.bee Credit’ provides microloans in the rural regions of Romania, in particular to small farmers, alongside basic financial education; and ‘good.bee Mobile Transaction’ offers a mobile-phone-based alternative to transfer money, and consists of an affordable current account and debit card. The first good.bee Micro-Banking initiatives unrolled in Romania, with the help of our partners, the Economic Development Centre (Romania) and the WIZZIT Group (South Africa) and is now offered by BCR.
Still in its early stages, good.bee Social Enterprise Finance offers, through the local Erste Group banks, not only loans, but also knowledge and skills training to social entrepreneurs through local support networks.