An interview with Rodolfo Tabash Espinach, President and CEO of BAC
BAC is the leading bank in Central America. It has more than 4.4 million customers, served by a team of more than 19,800 people across the region. With the purpose to “Reimagine banking to generate prosperity in the communities its serves” and is guided by three values: Integrity, Excellence, and Passion. BAC aims to be a pioneer, demonstrating that banking has the power to simultaneously maximise economic, environmental, and social value, through rigour and excellence.
The European caught up with BAC President and CEO, Rodolfo Tabash, to learn more about the path the organisation is taking to becoming the first Net Positive Bank – catalysing not only economic value, but also social and environmental value for Central America.
The European: BAC is the first bank in the region to establish a strategic aspiration “to become a Net Positive Bank”. Please outline what this means.
Rodolfo Tabash Espinach: We have come a long way at BAC, and our products and services have always been focused on exceeding the needs of our customers, and on making the transition to digital totally accessible. Now we want to go further and positively impact Central America in three dimensions: economic, social, and environmental. That is why we have integrated our vision of sustainability into our corporate strategy, aiming to become the first Net Positive Bank in the world.
Being Net Positive, means not only reducing the organisation’s footprint, but also doing positive things for our society and environment – our handprint. To achieve this, less than a year ago, we set twelve ambitious, yet concrete public goals, three in each dimension: economic, environmental, social (internal and external) value. This is our way of delivering banking with purpose.
TE: 2022 was the first year of implementing your Net Positive Strategy. What have been the main achievements so far?
RTE: For BAC, 2022 has been a year of excellence and triple-positive- value results. We are very proud to remain the number one bank in assets, deposits, and receivables in the region, but even more because we have successfully complemented the creation of this economic value with the creation of social and environmental value. Less than a year after the launch of our new strategy, we have concrete initiatives and achievements in place across the three dimensions.
Related to the external social dimension, as of the end of 2022, we support more than 260,000 SMEs across Central America with financial and non-financial solutions and launched triple-value financial solutions for women: Mujeres BAC in Costa Rica and Honduras, Mujer Puedes + in El Salvador and Credi-Mujer in Nicaragua. These programmes allowed us to deliver more than 2,000 loans and other financial and non-financial solutions to female leaders in Central America of more than $65m.
This is part of our commitment to develop inclusive and, especially, gender equitable banking. We also reached more than 86,000 people with financial digital education during 2022, and to this day we have trained more than 1.5 million people in Central America.
Regarding the environmental dimension: we are reimagining our bank cards, changing the current PVC plastic for an environmentally friendly material made from inedible corn, called PLA. This makes us the first bank in the region to introduce a BIO Card, and the first in the world to compost them once they have completed their lifecycle. We want to boost the circular economy in the region, so we are carrying out the composting process in alliance with Central American entrepreneurs and SMEs.
In 2022, we also completed the first measurement of funded emissions, the carbon footprint of our corporate portfolio and our goal moving forward is to work hand in hand with our customers in their decarbonisation processes.
Other projects that are part of our triple-positive-value corporate strategy are the Central American Electric Route – a network of free electric chargers placed in our main branches across the six countries of the region, from Panama to Guatemala, to encourage sustainable mobility. We are also making numerous efforts to promote even more ethical and transparent practices in the banking industry, such as our Summary Box, which aims to offer relevant, straight-forward, transparent and format-friendly information for our credit card customers.
TE: What’s next for BAC in 2023, and in the coming years?
RTE: I can say the best things are yet to come. Today BAC is a bank that focuses on life, on the people and planet, offering accessible, digital, and sustainable financial solutions for our more than 4.4 million customers across six countries.
We do this as a team, grounded in a high-level efficiency and comprehensive risk control, to maximise economic, social and environmental value. At BAC, we are very clear about our direction of travel, and have the motivation to transcend the traditional definition of business success.
We want to continue reimagining the role banks can play in generating prosperity, and improve the quality of life of Central American people and our environment.