The Third sector is an important part of Italy's economy and society; in 2016, a law was passed recognising this sector's importance and establishing a reform to improve its functioning. Intesa Sanpaolo has long recognised the importance of serving organisations in this sector, including religious organisations (which for the main part are not included in the scope of civil laws) and in fact Banca Prossima is dedicated to this type of customer. At the end of 2016, the Bank had over 58 thousand customers, with 7.7 billion euro in deposits (of which 3.1 billion euro direct) and around 1.7 billion euro in loans.
In 2016, new medium and long term loans for approximately 211 million euro were granted.
After the seven stages of the road show “Daterzoaprimo tour” in 2015, for Banca Prossima to meet its main local stakeholders, customers and over 400 members of staff throughout Italy and to promote the key aspects of the Third sector, a plenary event was organised in 2016, at two different venues, involving all Bank staff. Initiatives to improve operating effectiveness and efficiency, thought up by staff divided into teams, were presented and approved by the majority of those present. One idea in particular, currently being assessed, is to collect quantitative data describing the social impact of customers trusted by the Bank and to include this data (over the long-term and after checking its reliability and use) in the Bank's operating and planning procedures.
In November 2016, Banca Prossima was awarded Certified Benefit Corporation (B-Corp) certification, demonstrating the benefits it has generated for the community. The certification is issued by a non-profit American organisation, B-Lab, based on replies to a questionnaire and with a core of over 80 (Banca Prossima received a score of 88).
In Italy, there are around forty Certified Benefit Corporations and Banca Prossima is the only Bank. At present, there are over 2,000 B-Corporations in the world, in 50 countries (of which half in the US) and in 130 different sectors. A dozen B-Corps belong to the banking sector including European banks (Triodos, in Holland and other countries, Charity Bank in the United Kingdom and Cultura Bank in Norway).
Subsidised loans to the Third sector
Banca Prossima has gradually launched a series of initiatives to grant subsidised loans to the Third sector. These loans are sustainable for the Bank through a number of low-cost deposit methods. The benefit for the Bank of lower deposit costs fully translates into lower lending rates. Essentially, this mechanism has been adopted in three areas: the use of loans from the ECB for investments, raising funds on the Terzo Valore crowdfunding portal and the issue of “Serie Speciale Banca Prossima” bonds.
As for the use of EIB funds, approximately 29 million euro was disbursed in 2016 for 10 loans as part of a three-year programme (2014-16) providing 120 million euro in favour of 43 beneficiaries. The considerably high amount of the loans (around 3 million for each operation) was important; although typical of EIB funds, this is not common in Third sector operations. At the end of 2016, another agreement was signed between the Intesa Sanpaolo Group and European Investment Bank making available a further 50 million euro for Banca Prossima over the next three years.
Terzo Valore [i] is a crowdfunding portal which allows anyone to lend money or to directly fund non-profit organisation projects, without intermediaries and with principal repayment guaranteed by the Bank. Since its launch in 2011, Terzo Valore has financed 86 projects with loans granted by external subscribers for about 7.3 million euro, plus 1.4 million euro of donations.
Intesa Sanpaolo issued two “Serie Speciale Banca Prossima” bonds in 2013 and 2014. The Bonds are issued at lower rates than those normally adopted for securities with the same characteristics in terms of rate type and maturity. Total funding was used as loans to the Third sector, amounting to approximately 45 million euro and divided among 218 projects of various types of organisations, primarily including social cooperatives, associations and religious organisations.
To support social enterprise ideas encouraging access to employment for deserving university students, Fondazione San Patrignano – in partnership with Banca Prossima – launched the Social Start-Up award “Giovani idee per il social business” (Young ideas for social business), an ideas competition addressed for university students and young people enrolled in a master's course or a Ph.D. (not older than 35 years of age). The competition is designed to award the best three social enterprise projects with a loan up to 25,000 euro, granted by Banca Prossima, guaranteed by a fund set up in 2013 by the Foundation. Through this initiative, Fondazione San Patrignano and Banca Prossima aim to activate business culture operating in the social field, assisting emarginated or excluded people and making itself known on the market to guarantee – in addition to transparency, responsibility and environmental protection – real economic sustainability. In February 2016 the Third edition was launched.
One of the most important Third sector partnerships is with the SPIN-Sport Insieme Consortium, a non-profit organisation set up by main associations promoting sport at a national level to build new sports facilities, renovate or modernise existing sites and promote sport in Italy. The SPIN credit access model is innovative: the association takes on the risk by investing its own capital (minimum 20% of the amount) and undertakes a project study and analysis process together with the Consorzio. Banca Prossima’s credit decisions are supported by SPIN’s certification, which investigates some aspects, such as the investment’s economic and financial sustainability, the cost adequacy and necessary authorisation process, which are key factors for the project's success. In 2016, 30 projects were analysed and assessed for a total value of approximately 23 million euro and 24 were financed for an amount of about 13 million euro.