Business / Companies

HSBC on quest to build communities

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-25 10:25

HSBC on quest to build communities

Partners of the second round of the HSBC Community Partnership Program at the launching ceremony on June 9 in Beijing. [Photo/China Daily]

Program enters second year, with a further 10m yuan to tackle residents' pressing problems

For years the residents of Jixiangli, in Beijing's Chaoyang district, complained about what many in the capital city have in recent years: a lack of community spirit because of a transient population arriving and leaving all the time.

But late last year, a new program was rolled out there, which officials say has created a much stronger, self-governing community. The program has set about tackling some of the community's most-pressing needs, including helping the elderly and organizing cultural events.

With the financial support of HSBC Bank (China) Co Ltd, the Community Partnership Program has also supported the building of better community life in 39 similar areas to Jixiangli in Beijing, including those in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Suzhou (in Jiangsu province).

Zhang Huifeng, head of the bank's corporate sustainability activities, explained that the organization had 20 years' experience of community building in Hong Kong.

In the Chinese mainland, however, where many inner-city areas lacked both the organizations and programs to develop a closely knit community, it had little experience, which explained why it created the program.

In just over a year, the bank has so far spent 8 million yuan ($1.3 million) on 108 projects, and has just revealed a further 10 million yuan in project-funding for six more cities-Tianjin, Chengdu (in Sichuan province), and Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan and Zhuhai (all in Guangdong province).

Ma Kai, deputy head of the social services department in Chaoyang district, said banks and other companies in Beijing have always played a part in improving the environment and living conditions.

The problem is, however, that they have often been unable to find the best ways of distributing the funds to appropriate community organizations or foundations.

So far the HSBC program has chosen 22 pilot communities in which to create a community foundation, donating each of them 150,000 yuan.

The funds are managed and operated by community leaders themselves. Their particular needs are identified locally, typically involving elderly care, children's education, or local cultural projects.

HSBC has designed a scientific (and fully transparent) platform on which the community foundations can manage their initial funding, and then accept more funds that might arrive from enterprises and governments long term, said Zhang, which he said creates a solid and sustainable strategy for future community building.

Over the past year, Zhang said HSBC has cooperated with non-government organizations such as NPI, the cluster of several non-profit incubators which support several intermediary charity agencies, various local governments and social workers in carrying out the program.

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