The International BankWiser Conference

I spent, the past 5 days, in an old convent in the Netherlands, where I co-faciltated, the International BankWiser Conference.

The BankWiser is a tool for transparency in the financial world initiated by Oxfam Novib, and 5 of their partners in The Netherlands.

BankWiser” is a web-based tool enabling bank clients to make their bank more socially responsible, fair, and sustainable by benchmarking them  on some twenty themes and sectors.
The initiative is the first of its kind  to systematically assess banks’ management  of sustainability and poverty-related issues.
The tool has become very successful in promoting awareness and has resulted in direct improvements in the banks’ practices.

What I personally like about this tool, is that it is used to open a dialogue with banks, by mirroring their actions and decisionmaking when it comes to social responsibilty and sustainability.

A mix of activism & dialogue & collaboration.

The next step and purpose of this gathering was to internationalise this tool, it has proven it’s impact and the financial world is a global system, many banks operate in many countries, and across borders.

A group of 40 people, working in different ngo’s, coming from Belgium, France, Switserland, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Indonesia, India & Japan, gathered to explore the potential, strategy, structure, …

Many different purposes, not easy to balance or to serve in only 4 days:

  • getting to know eachother and building long term partnership
  • creating a shared vision on the -long versus short term- purpose of the tool
  • creating a structure and defining principles for collaboration
  • preparing a document to find funding

That’s what I like about my work. It was hard work for us but so worth it.

It’s a very meaningful subject and I learned a lot by listening to everyone’s stories about their cultures, their economies and their dreams for their countries.

This was also a very good example of a multi-stakeholder process: they share a mission, and therefore they will share a tool, to upscale the impact. But there was no formal authority in the decisionmaking. Of course there were the initiators and creators of the tool, but they had to let go of ownership in order to share it with others. The tool had to have a clear commonality in all countries to realise the potential of upscaling and yet every country is different and had different relations with the bank and different laws.


Beautiful chaotic and yet effective dance.


In the evenings we planned “inspiration”, related to what we were doing:

The first evening we showed the movie “As it is in heaven”. The second evening there was a performance of Dette Glashouwer, who had an act about money (see picure). After her performance she invited us to dive into our own relationship with money, that we explored in small group conversations.

“what is your first memory of money as a child?”

“what was the meaning of money at your home, while growing up?”

“when is money “enough” for you?”


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *