The Co-operative Financial Services Launches 'goodwithmoney' Social Networking Blog

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The Co-operative Financial Services has launched a good with money Social Networking blog aiming to help the public and let them comment their views.

The Co-operative Financial Services has launched its very own blog at http://blog.goodwithmoney.co.uk. The site has been designed to provide a platform on which to highlight examples of where The Co-operative Financial Services has demonstrated clear 'ethics in action' and to provide the public with a chance to post their comment and views on the corporate and socially responsible activity which the organisation is involved in.

The first subject to be featured on the site will be The Co-operative Bank's support for Microfinance*. The Co-operative Bank has created a special £25m fund in order to support the development of small businesses in new and developing countries as well as some of the world's poorest countries. The Bank has already provided support in 25 countries worldwide including Nicaragua, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Ecuador, Kenya and Bosnia.

In May of 2008 The Co-operative Bank sent two members of staff to see at first hand the real impact microfinance has had on peoples' lives by visiting some of the projects it had recently supported in Bosnia.

The visit was of particular significance to one member of staff Belma Gracankic (25), who is herself a Bosnian refugee having come to the UK in 1993 along with her family to escape the war in Sarajevo.

Belma, along with her colleague Sangeeta, recorded a video diary of the visit in which she talks to some of the people in Bosnia who as a result of the microfinance funding have managed to rebuild their lives following the war. Belma also, for the first time since leaving Bosnia, returns to the village (Derventa) where she grew up and talks openly about the hardship she and her family had to go through during the war and describes to what the lengths they had to go to in order to escape the war**.

The 'goodwithmoney' blog will host a series of video clips, archive footage, interviews and photographs both via the site, vimeo, flicker and youtube where over the coming weeks those logging on can follow their trip step by step and post their views/comments.

Belma Gracankic, Relationship Manager at The Co-operative Bank, commented, "I take great pride in working for a bank that take its ethical credentials so seriously. I was delighted to return to Bosnia and to see some of my fellow Bosnian's rebuilding their lives through the help and support of The Co-operative Bank. It was also especially rewarding to re-visit the places I grew up and so see how they are being rebuilt and regenerated. I hope the blog will provide everyone visiting the site a real insight into what life is now like in Bosnia and how it has changed since the siege of Sarajevo.

Notes to editors:

The Co-operative Financial Services is part of The Co-operative Group, the UK's largest consumer co-operative. The Co-operative Financial Services is the group of businesses that includes The Co-operative Insurance provide car insurance, home insurance, life insurance and building insurance. And the Co-operative Bank including smile.

  •     ISDN facilities are available for broadcast media interviews.
  •     * Microfinance is defined as the provision of financial services to the working poor, usually in the form of small loans that can be as little as $100, which are provided through Microfinance Institutions (MFI's). MFI's are locally based specialised, formal and semi-formal institutions e.g. commercial banks, co-operative rural banks, credit unions and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who provide financial services to third world micro-enterprises such as small farmers, fishermen, street vendors, cobblers etc. Currently there are over 10,000 MFI's worldwide, providing financial services to 100 million individuals.
  •     ** Belma fled to Britain in 1993 aged just 10 with her family to escape the war in Sarajevo aided by The Red Cross. The family had to escape at night across the Serbian/Bosnian boarder on stolen passports. In the video diary Belma talks about how they had to dodge the sniper fire and how they were shot at as they tried to leave having to leave the car and belongings behind and run for cover.
  •     Future subjects to be featured on the will be The Co-operative Insurance's support for its 'responsible driving' campaign Too Young To Die and The Co-operative Bank's funding for renewable energy projects across the UK.
  •     Those wishing to access the blog can do so by visiting http://blog.goodwithmoney.co.uk.

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Duncan Bowker
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