According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), there has never been a better time for banks that finance energy related technologies to make profitable investments in sustainable development. In the same perspective, Fransabank believes that access to energy is central to human well-being and a key factor in poverty reduction. This shared recognition, forged the way for the introduction of sustainable energy finance into Fransabank SME, corporate, and leasing activities as the essence of our “Go Green Strategy”, as it allows the Bank to expand its market share through new business lines, target new market segments, improve the risk profile of its portfolio, and enhance its social and environmental impacts.
Consequently, Fransabank concluded with the IFC in November 2013 a Services Agreement by virtue of which they provided to our Bank Advisory Services to implement the needed know-how and structure for Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF). In parallel, Fransabank Group (Fransabank SAL and its leasing arm, Lebanese Leasing Company - LLC) signed with the IFC and with the Government of Canada in May 2014, two Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) credit lines for USD 13 million (out of a global envelope for USD 40 million : USD 30 million favor Fransabank SAL and USD 10 million favor LLC). It was followed by a USD 40 million financing granted to Fransabank boosting the bank to be the only Lebanese bank to finance SEF projects in many industrial sectors.
These lines aim to promote the financing of sustainable energy in Lebanon, thus allowing businesses to adopt clean energy and energy efficient technology, save money, and combat climate change. Furthermore, the Government of Canada’s instrumental contribution to the IFC-Canada Climate Change Program has helped make this financing package viable. In total, Canada has provided USD 276.6 million to the program to support climate change investments that generate environmental and economic benefits in developing countries.
In 2015, Fransabank partnered with the Lebanese oil private sector, in particular the IPT Gas Stations, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the implementation of IPT Energy and Environmental Management Strategy (EEMS) which aims to transform IPT Stations into green and sustainable ones. The importance of this initiative comes at a critical time. While Lebanon is facing a tremendous social crisis and hard times finding a viable solution to an incessant garbage crisis.
Protecting the Environment - Eco-Friendly Loans
Due to rising energy costs, the recent technological advances, and a growing awareness and concern for our environment, Fransabank launched its new series of environmental friendly loans to meet the needs of both consumers and businesses alike. Whether the customer wishes to benefit from energy power efficiency at home or at business premises to develop environmentally friendly projects, Fransabank’s revolutionary energy loans are the perfect solution to save on expenses resulting from daily consumption of energy such as electricity, water and others. Fransabank aims at maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment and equally giving consumers the chance to save on primary household and operating expenses.
Accordingly, the Bank signed with the Union of the Municipalities of Jezzine – South of Lebanon, the Energy and Water Ministry, and the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation an MoU through which the Bank launched an Eco-Friendly loan for the citizens in the areas aiming at the reduction of household expenses, and energy consumption. The eco-friendly loan is used to better insulate the walls and roof and to install double glazing windows and water heater for around 100 houses in the region. This loan is characterized by the very low interest rates coupled with one year grace period.
It was coupled with the signature of a similar MoU with the Union of Municipalities of Qalaat Al Istiklal (قلعة الاستقلال) – West Bekaa, Lebanon. The loan is granted in order to support citizens of the area to enhance the beauty of their houses while reaching a model of environmentally friendly living lifestyle. This initiative supports the sustainable energy and residential projects for citizens of all Lebanese regions.
In addition, Fransabank re-launched its Eco-Business Loan through a new advertisement campaign that highlighted statistics on how much can be saved in cost for different sectors while adopting efficient sustainable solutions. This cost effective access to energy efficient technology and equipment helps companies generate a higher level of productivity on the long-term, as such:
- A Bakery saves 25% in energy when investing in energy efficient technology
- A Restaurant saves 25% in energy when investing in energy efficient technology
- A Printing Press saves 45% in energy costs by investing in energy efficiency & renewable energy technologies
- A Steel Factory saves 50% of its energy demand by investing in energy efficiency and solar power technologie.
The statistics were retrieved from a study conducted by the International Finance Corporation.
Fransabank participated as well in the renovation of Bkassine Public Garden, hosting one of the most beautiful pine forests and largest natural reserves in the Middle East. Similar public gardens are hosted next to Fransabank large network of branches where the Bank coordinates with the relevant municipalities on the “green” needs of their areas. Such endeavors are executed in various areas like Marjeyoun and Zahleh, amongst others.
When Culture, History and Ecology Come Together
The caza of Aley - Bsous particularly – in Mount Lebanon, witnessed the golden age of silk production in Lebanon was the main activity for a large section of the population. Being proud of our heritage and as an effort to keep up Lebanon’s ecological and cultural legacy, Fransabank was a major sponsor of The Silk Museum in Bsous which was open to the public from May till November 2015. The aim of this initiative was to attract people to one of the most beautiful olive groves and gardens in Lebanon while presenting a gentle reminder of the interaction between humans, insects and plants and the rewards that this brought to Lebanon for hundreds of years.
To achieve continual progress in sustainability, environmental concerns should not only be implanted into our operations but also in our corporate culture.
1.5 tons of recyclable plastics equal Two Wheelchairs
Following the year 2014 success, and within our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and arcenciel’s environmental program, we continued our internal awareness campaign on the importance of recycling and the protection of the environment through the “Bouchons Roulants” project which is targeted for our employees.
We succeeded to collect 1.5 tons of recyclable plastics as end of December 2015; surpassing what we have collected at end of December 2014 (1 ton). The plastics collected were sold to a recycling company in order to provide with that respective value, a wheelchair to a person with special needs. As every 1 ton of recyclable plastic bottles and caps collected and sold endows arcenciel with a wheelchair.
We thank Fransabank’s employees contribution and incessant efforts to reach this target and which resulted in the donation of three wheelchairs, of course, this initiative was coupled with an equal contribution from the Bank’s management to the staff’s effort making use able to triple our contribution.
This corporate social responsibility initiative has proved to be a very successful one throughout the years thanks to our staff individual efforts in support of the “Bouchons Roulants” project, which is an initiative that has three objectives:
Protection of the environment
Awareness on recycling and the sorting out of solid wastes
Bestowment of a wheelchair to a person with special needs
Keeping it Green
When a fundraising campaign "Always Green" was launched in October 2008, Fransabank was quick to respond with USD 1 million donation to the cause. Launched by that time by Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, the “Always Green” campaign sought to raise money to purchase planes, vehicles and equipment that would enable Civil Defense firefighters to respond to firefighting emergencies in a more efficient manner. “Fransabank is absolutely committed to protecting Lebanon’s natural resources,” said Fransabank Group Chairman Adnan Kassar. “Our donation to the Always Green campaign is just one element of a host of initiatives designed to preserve our country’s natural wealth for generations to come.”
Protecting the City’s Heart
The effects of war on the environment are perhaps best illustrated by the fate of Beirut’s largest public park, Horsh Beirut (also known as La Foret des Pins), which was almost completely destroyed during Lebanon’s 17 year civil war. Thanks to a generous donation from the French government, the reconstruction of the park and replanting of pine and other native trees was able to take place in the late 1990s. Fransabank contributed to this important initiative through a donation to cover the cost of building a two-meter high iron fence and gates to protect the newly planted trees and flowers. Thanks to the combined efforts of all involved, one of the city’s most important, large green spaces has been able to flourish once again.
Such initiatives not only cover the capital Beirut but extend to other cities and villages. Lately, Fransabank participated in the renovation of Bkassine Public Garden located in South Lebanon, hosting one of the most beautiful pine forests and largest natural reserves in the Middle East. Similar public gardens are hosted next to Fransabank large network of branches where the Bank coordinates with the relevant municipalities on the “green” needs of their areas. Such endeavours are executed in various areas like Marjeyoun and Zahleh, amongst others.
Since 2008, Fransabank has been a proud supporter of non-governmental organization Jouzour Loubnan and its mission to help restore Lebanese woodland and promote sustainable forestation in arid regions. Pistachio, olive, oak, cedar, and pine are among the trees native to Lebanon which are being given a new lease of life through Jouzour Loubnan’s planting activities. In 2010, Fransabank employees and their families planted more than 1,000 “Cedrus Libnani” effectively contributing to the reforestation of Kfardebian forests in collaboration with Jouzour Loubnan. This strongly aligns with the Bank's belief that preserving the environment and keeping Lebanon green should start from within.
A New Cedars Forest in Bsharri – North of Lebanon
Fransabank decided to be part of a new environmental project in the region of Bsharri, North Lebanon. The project was launched by the National Commission for Lebanese Women and the Friends of the Cedars Forest Commission in Bsharri through a cooperation protocol to create a new cedar forest entailing planting 1,000 cedar trees in a 30,000 square meter area in Bsharri. The trees that were planted through the Bank’s donations will carry the name of Fransabank. The sponsorship is binding for 9 years, until the tree becomes self-sustaining.
Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve
Having faith in local communities’ involvement to achieve sustainable development, and with the aim to conserve the biodiversity and preserve the cultural heritage of Jabal Moussa Mountain and its villages, Fransabank Group supports the Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa.
In addition, Fransabank Amicale Club designed and executed an adventurous trip to the Reserve whereby Fransabank employees explored closely dominant features of the biosphere reserve which is divided into a core area mainly dedicated to experts’ visits and research, a buffer zone where ecotourism activities take place, and a transition zone that involves human use of the land.
Jabal Moussa, an outstanding Biosphere Reserve located in Keserwan-Jbeil area in Lebanon, was designated in 2009 as the 3rd biosphere reserve in Lebanon as part of the UNESCO Network of Biosphere Reserves under Man & Biosphere (MAB) program. The Reserve reflects a true mosaic of ecological systems with its predominant land uses including: forest management, charcoal production, traditional agricultural activities, fruit trees plantation, grazing, and seasonal recreation.
Ashrafieh 2020’s Discover Ashrafieh – Marches on Wider and Cleaner Sidewalks
Fransabank supported Ashrafieh 2020 to bring to life a livable, breathable, welcoming and friendly neighborhood. The key objective of this event was to initiate awareness within Ashrafieh's community by banning cars for an entire day, and to transform this noisy and crowded residential area into a better, greener and more environmentally friendly ambiance.
Limiting and Reducing our Ecological Footprints
Fransabank is working to minimize the environmental impacts of its physical operations. We strive to manage our corporate offices and branches in an efficient and sustainable manner, and we continue to work on improving our operational resource management, including greenhouse gas emissions, paper, water, and waste as per such:
- Digital banking services have a profound impact on the reduction of paper consumption. We had around 46,163 registered users of Fransabank internet and mobile banking, an increase of 30% as compared to the end of December 2014.
- Numbers of print reduction initiatives, including shared printers and double-sided printing have been introduced across the Bank’s departments / divisions and branches as well as the local entities to help reduce paper consumption, with a more widespread use of certified paper for the Bank’s publications.
- Recycling initiative within the Bank’s Headquarters and branches is being managed responsibly by its employees. We have made considerable progress in reducing paper waste, recycling 107.31 tons of recycled papers in 2015. This accomplishment is a significant indicator of the changes in our corporate culture which is leaning towards an environment friendly workplace
- Retrofitting AC system and lightning by moving to VRV technology and LED lights at the headquarters’ offices and branches
Fransabank announced in June 2012 its full abidance by a smoke-free environment on all Fransabank premises.