21st Century Employers – Meet Bankers Without Borders

Escape the City aims to connect smart, talented, ambitious professionals with new opportunities at genuinely exciting organisations. But how to define “exciting organisation”?

Introducing “21st Century Employers”

21st Century Employers is our new campaign to spotlight the kinds of organisations worth working for in the 21st century – it’s about social impact, entrepreneurialism and exciting, progressive brands.

Here we are in the second decade of the 21st Century – faced with massive challenges and even bigger opportunities. The employers of the future are building organisations to meet these challenges.

In this series we are going to celebrate the startups, SMEs, social enterprises, NGOs, charities and corporates (yes them too) building progressive organisations with innovative ways to solve problems, consciously adding sustainable value to the world (through impact, profits & jobs).

Our objective with this campaign is to celebrate employers doing things differently. We hope that by showcasing these organisations (and their jobs) we’ll provide you with the inspiration and tangible information to make a viable career transition to work that matters to you.

21st Century Employer #3 – Bankers Without Borders

Employer: Bankers Without Borders – The Grameen Foundation. Mission: to help the world’s poorest people reach their full potential by giving them the necessary tools and skills to do so.

“It’s a fact of life that often people doing work of little social value are working much harder than those who are not. And in terms of achieving social change, that’s clearly a problem.”

That’s the sentiment of Samantha Haviser, Programme Officer at Bankers Without Borders. Thankfully, there are exceptions and BWB is certainly one of them, combining both super hard work and supreme social impact.


Working across sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia, and leveraging its relationship with The Grameen Foundation, BWB is working with thousands of skilled professionals to help inspire and support social enterprise for some of the world’s poorest people. And don’t be fooled by the name: those working for BWB are not just finance professionals, but come from a host of backgrounds, from consulting to marketing and journalism.

Taking an academic, consultative, and hugely committed approach to solving what is unquestionably one of the world’s greatest injustices, BWB looks to the difficulties that poor people face in a range of very different locations and works passionately to provide them with the tools and skills that help them to enjoy easier and more fulfilling lives. These skills are provided by the network of volunteers that work on BWB projects, and a growing number of people are making contributions in this hugely valuable ‘skillanthropy’ movement. As a resource, this bank of professional skills is a treasure trove, and by engaging with the private sector in this way, BWB is able to drive programmes that mobilize local communities and allow them to take responsibility for enterprising initiatives to improve their lives.

Crucial to the efforts of BWB is the process of understanding what causes poverty and what changes will enable people to avoid the poverty trap. The desire to formulate more effective solutions to this problem is overriding, and the challenge of re-positioning people’s focus to give effect to this desire is undertaken with a zeal so often exhibited by those who are inspired by the work that they do. Rather than simply alleviating poverty, BWB focuses on innovating to find sustainable solutions, and counts on the entrepreneurialism and commitment of their volunteers to protect the legacy of these solutions. We can understand why those working for BWB find all of this inspiring!

And crucially, those working on BWB’s projects maintain a sharp focus on their goals and demonstrate a passionate commitment to the people that they are working to assist. As Haviser told us, “commitment to the mission is a key driver of recruitment” – the best contributors are those who believe in BWB’s mission and are willing to re-think, refresh and continually pivot in order to push for the best result. Like the worker-ants of the corporate world, these people are working really, really hard. But what they’re doing is so much bigger than that, as all of this effort is going towards effecting enormous social change.

Our verdict?

In terms of meaningful, inspiring, social enterprise, BWB is doing a great job of helping the world’s poorest people to overcome their difficult circumstances and reach their full potential. We love social impact and we love entrepreneurialism. We love social entrepreneurs and we love BWB.

The Grameen Foundation are currently looking for Fellows to join them in Uganda – see listing on Escape the City. And Bankers Without Borders are always looking for volunteers (92% of their volunteers says they would volunteer with them again).

[Which organisations would you love to work for? Who would you like us to profile? Who deserves celebrating as a progressive organisation doing things differently? Comment below to us know.]

[View the 21st Century Employers directory here.]

Check out our upcoming events here: http://www.theescapeschool.eventbrite.co.uk/

What is Escape the City all about then?

Frustrated by climbing the corporate ladder, we decided to build a community to help people build meaningful careers doing work that matters – to them and to the world. We help talented people find fulfilling work by making big career changes, building businesses, & going on big adventures. We’d love you to come with us on this journey.

How do you get involved?

1. Job Seeker? Create an Escape Profile to get matched to exciting jobs.

2. Aspiring Career Changer / Entrepreneur? If you’re in London, come and see us at The Escape School.

3. Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to one of our newsletters. Find us on Facebook or @escthecity.

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