Businesses-we-love

I was excited to meet with Alex Scriven and Amanda Watt from act. (a division of Community Sector Banking), not only because they work for the first certified B Corp banking service in Australia, but also because that bank has created an innovative profit-for-purpose model that puts profits back into the community. When I sat down with the duo, I learned all about the importance of choice and transparency in business.

DIANNE COTTER: One of the things that I’m really interested in knowing is what is world-first about your banking service?

AMANDA: It’s the combination of crowd funding with banking. We really believe that crowd funding is an effective vehicle for people to feel very connected to giving and to outcomes. We saw that as a unique opportunity.

Something else that you talk about is “profit-for- purpose.” What does that mean for a bank?

ALEX: We generate profit but use it for social purpose as well. And I think the difference with our model, for our customers, is that it’s transparent purpose, so our customers receive a share of our profit that we make from the banking directly back to them, and they choose which social project on the crowd-funding platform they can give to.

It’s nice that you give that subjectivity or personal choice back to the customer.

AMANDA: Oh totally, and we truly do honour that at act. Choice is one of our core values. Transparency is another one. When there’s transparency and choice we see our business model working.

ALEX: People don’t often think that their banking matters or that it can make a difference, but it can. Who you bank with does matter, and you can change your banking for good.

You’ve had a busy couple of years since your launch in November 2014. What have been some of your biggest achievements as a team?

AMANDA: Definitely funding more than $215,000 for social projects on letsact. com.au. And we won Money Magazine’s Most Innovative Banking Product for 2016. act. is small in the sphere of banking, and there’s our much bigger buddies jostling for the innovation award, but act. has been built more on innovation and core values than money.

ALEX: Another big achievement is the assembly of a team that cares. We surrounded ourselves with the right types of people, people who genuinely do care about outcomes and social benefit, and that creates almost a family environment.

Describe the world that you would like to live in.

AMANDA: I would love to be surrounded by activists (we call our customers activists) who can clearly see the change they can create, and clearly feel connected to that outcome and know exactly what you’ve done to make it happen.

ALEX: You do ask me the big questions! One where people don’t live in fear, where they feel supported, and that their creative talents can be used in a way to benefit others. A world where people have an eagerness to do what they want to do with their lives and a society that supports them.

At Dumbo Feather, we only partner with businesses that are values-aligned. This means—for starters—that they demonstrate a commitment to positively impacting the world. Read more about our partners.