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Best Bank Awards

Bangladesh's best bank for CSR 2020: The City Bank

The City Bank

When this 37-year-old institution won Asiamoney honours in the past, it was in premium services. No other local lender can compete with its priority banking division, Citygem. More recently, though, the bank led by chief executive Mashrur Arefin is impressing us with its corporate social responsibility efforts.

Year after year, Citygem rolls out new services to its 4,500-plus customer base, one certain to expand with Bangladesh’s consistently buoyant economy. The services come with all sorts of bells and whistles: VIP lounges at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport? Check. Exclusive banking centres from Dhaka and Chittagong? Absolutely. Access to world-class medical centres and valet parking services? Most definitely.

Equally notable is how The City Bank is raising its CSR game. Take its innovative push into banking for women. The ‘City Alo’ offering boasts women-only branches and specially designed entrepreneurship courses in conjunction with North South University.

Mashrur Arefin, MD & CEO, The City Bank.jpg
Mashrur Arefin, The City Bank

Its collaboration with the IFC sponsors financial-literacy support groups with names such as ‘Breaking up the boy’s club,’ ‘How moms make budgets’ and ‘Building resilience through inclusion.’

“Our mission on gender,” as Arefin puts it, “is to empower you by giving you financial assistance and support to expand your business or better manage your personal necessities with a reimagined banking experience.”

At the flagship City Alo branch downtown on Gulshan Avenue, clients enjoy something approaching the WeWork treatment. Women can walk in, grab a cup of coffee and decompress in the lounge-type seating area while meeting bank officers.

The bank is also supporting the Dhaka Metropolitan Police in counter-terrorism efforts and is helping to finance the government’s anti natural-calamity and relief-fund efforts. It is raising awareness of Down Syndrome risks and promoting the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes in schools and colleges. It is supporting programmes for the holistic development of children with special educational needs, including autism.

Its initiatives extend to fighting human trafficking and smuggling in rural communities, as well as rural education, clean water, farming and public health and hygiene.

The City Bank facilitates a laptop programme targeting the visually impaired. It distributes blankets to the poor at 102 branches countrywide. Not exactly the community you would expect a bank geared toward premium clients to service. Kudos to The City Bank for doing its part to help spread the benefits of economic growth.

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