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Vietnam's best bank for CSR 2019: Asia Commercial Bank

Asia Commercial Bank

Corporate and social responsibility isn’t much of a thing among Vietnam banks, at least not how it is conventionally understood or undertaken in other markets.

That’s partly because what others might recognize as CSR practices are supposed to be ideologically inbuilt into Vietnam’s still-socialist system – that business exists to put people over profits.

But as socialist strictures continue to loosen in Vietnam in favour of the market, local banks are being compelled by customers and the state to up their ante on CSR.

Vietnam’s Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) has another reason to step up; its near-death experience in 2012. That’s when its reputation took a battering, because the bank’s founder, tycoon Nguyen Duc Kien, was arrested and jailed for fraud, panicking depositors.

Calm was restored by the central bank and ACB was overhauled to regain investor confidence. Philanthropy was crucial to the remake and today ACB’s “I love the journey of my life” charity programme is key to that image rebuild.

In 2018, ACB allocated over D9 billion ($388,000) to handing out scholarships to thousands of disadvantaged Vietnamese children around the country, up to university age. ACB has also financed new schools across Vietnam.

The Go Paperless project was also implemented in 2018, designed to limit ACB’s impact on the environment. That extends to increasing digitalization, which ACB says is helping its bottom line. ACB also backs the charity Fauna and Flora International, which is dedicated to protecting Vietnam’s rare primate species.