• Sustainable finance

Rescue and Recover Fund: where BNP Paribas Personal Finance and the French Red Cross meet!

After a meeting between the Chief Executive Officers of BNP Paribas (Switzerland) SA and CARE, the Rescue and Recover Fund gave the floor to two more committed individuals. Jean-Christophe Combe is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the French Red Cross, one of the fund’s partners. In this interview, he talks with Alain Van Groenendael, President of BNP Paribas Personal Finance, one of the Fund’s founding members, about his experience with the Fund.

The Rescue and Recover Fund was established by BNP Paribas in 2012 to combine the generosity of its employees all over the world and its clients in France, who wish to assist victims of humanitarian crises through the work of three partner organisations: CARE, the French Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

The fund responds to major crises, whether they are high profile (Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the earthquake in Italy, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, etc.) or low profile (maternal and child health, access to water, etc.).

« The French Red Cross is part of one of the biggest humanitarian movements in the world, uniting 97 million people in 190 countries. It has fought for more than 150 years against all forms of human suffering, both in France and in communities located thousands of kilometres away. Our 58,000 volunteers and 18,000 employees work every day to meet the needs of vulnerable communities in terms of emergency services, first aid, community action, sanitation and medical/social care, training and international initiatives. »

Jean-Christophe Combe, French Red Cross


What is your role in the Rescue and Recover Fund?

Alain Van Groenendael: BNP Paribas Personal Finance is one of four BNP Paribas Group subsidiaries that are founding members of the Rescue and Recover Fund created by the parent company in 2012. This is why we are members of the fund’s Board of Directors, and why we help select the projects supported.  As a founding member, we top up the funds collected or donated by our employees. 

Jean-Christophe Combe: As a partner organisation since 2013, our role is to highlight the most urgent needs of communities we support, especially for “low-profile” crises, and to ensure that donations collected by the fund are used well, providing appropriate, sustainable responses to the humanitarian challenges of our time.

Why did you get involved in this initiative?

J-C. C.: Given the scope of current societal concerns, pooling our efforts and resources with other stakeholders, such as businesses, their employees and their clients, is now an absolute must if we want to make a significant impact and create real change.The fund’s approach is entirely in keeping with this premise. It allows us to combine different kinds of support to assist with a single cause, through its reliance on three organisations with complementary activities. It is an innovative tool that allows us to respond quickly when disaster strikes, and also helps us collect donations for events that have a lower profile but are just as destructive for the communities affected.

A. V-G.: This endowment fund is perfectly in line with our employees’ desire to show their solidarity with the victims of humanitarian disasters.  It is a groundbreaking charity tool that structures and combines the generosity of our employees. For Personal Finance, it is also a unifying element of our CSR policy.

Finally, this Fund is unique in that it can take action extremely quickly, because for the first time a major corporation has a preventative tool that allows it to prepare its support before humanitarian emergencies occur.

©Croix-Rouge française


Four years after it was founded, what is your assessment of the Rescue and Recover Fund?

A. V-G.: The Rescue and Recover Fund quickly proved its effectiveness, whether for disasters that require an immediate response or low-profile crises on which organisations work over the long term.The Fund has already benefited from the intense commitment of BNP Paribas Personal Finance Group employees. They have already actively taken part in 15 campaigns, which collected €2.6 million for partner organisations.

J-C. C.: Over the four years that the fund has been in existence, it has proven its worth. The fund is clearly needed. Since its founding, nearly €900,000 has been collected for our emergency response campaigns (for Nepal, the refugee crisis, etc.) or our development projects. By doing so, it has reinforced our existing initiatives and made it possible to develop new ones. Ours is a dynamic partnership: new forms of support have been developed with the Fund’s assistance over the years, such as the recent joint effort by BNP Personal Finance and the French Red Cross on issues related to microcredit.  

Furthermore, the Rescue and Recover Fund is a powerful tool for discussion and exchange. Its participatory approach, which is evidence of the confidence the Fund places in us, allows partner organisations to come up with creative solutions. The information we share with the Fund is another way to publicise the activities of the French Red Cross and educate BNP Paribas’ clients and employees about the needs we meet on a day-to-day basis. 

What do you want for the future, whether in terms of the Fund or humanitarian action in general?

A. V-G.: The Rescue and Recover Fund's strength lies in the collective commitment of our employees, who rally around each campaign. They have adopted the Fund as their own, and this feeling of belonging has substantially increased its effectiveness. This is why we must publicise the Fund, and make more of a commitment to collecting funds on an ongoing basis to support the three NGOs over the long term.  

J-C. C.: Alongside the Fund and its partner organisations, we must continue our efforts to end suffering and reduce inequality. Although everyone understands need for cooperation between governments, humanitarian agencies, institutions and civil society, we still have much work to do to work better together and improve synergies. In particular, I'm thinking about the issue of migration, a complicated, changing topic that is central to our era. It requires global, effective cooperation between the various stakeholders.

Finally, a humanitarian initiative cannot have a lasting impact without putting communities at the centre of its actions. The role of humanitarian agencies and their partners is to give communities the tools they need to rebuild their lives and meet their own needs over the long term, independently and with dignity. As a result, we need to experiment with and expand projects that are grounded in this type of thinking. Private initiatives such as the Rescue and Recover Fund help make such work possible. THANK YOU!

Alain Van Groenendael
President of BNP Paribas Personal Finance
Jean-Christophe Combe

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the French Red Cross

Rescue & Recover Fund


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