Teachers Mutual chief executive Steve James

5 December 2013 — Teachers Mutual Bank has been recognised as a global leader in community investment at London Benchmarking Group’s Australia & New Zealand 2013 Index.

The LBG is an internationally recognised standard for measuring and evaluating a corporation’s community investment.

Teachers Mutual’s community investments were seven times the Australian average, 12 times higher than the financial services average, and 2.4 times the global average.

Chief executive of Teachers Mutual Steve James said community investment was “a fundamental business philosophy”.

“As a mutual bank, we believe profit has a purpose,” Mr James said.

“For us, success is about supporting our members, communities and employees, and minimising harm to the environment. In today’s socially responsible world, this is a crucial indicator, and a measure of success along with profits and growth.”

A local school run by Buddhist networks for young nuns in Myanmar

One community project the bank is investing in is the Myanmar Teachers Project – a sustainable funding model that pays teachers’ salaries out of interest from community loans, and is designed to help break the poverty cycle.

In partnership with the Credit Union Foundation Australia, the model provides loan capital for 20 community credit unions that are run out of monasteries in Myanmar. The increased funds will benefit 9000 members, and provide capital for loans so members can build a house or business, and afford health care. The extra returns generated go towards teachers’ salaries.

“CUFA’s program faces huge challenges on the ground but is delivering real practical results by tackling poverty head on in Myanmar, which has endured 60 years of civil unrest,” said Teachers Mutual CSR strategist Corin Millais.

“We’re giving a hand up, not a hand out – it’s delivering real results. This project not only looks at improving the provision of education, but also shows that supporting teachers helps boost Myanmar’s overall economy.”

The Myanmar Teachers Project works with 22 schools, 157 teachers and 5495 school children.

“Even small organisations can put together a successful and impactful social responsibility program and be global leaders in this space,” said Mr James. “As a mutual bank, we believe that profit has a purpose and the Myanmar Teachers Project is a great example of reinvesting profit in an effective way.”

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