Sustainability is not core to our business in the sense that we are not solving for sustainability. But we are asking ourselves if we are running our business responsibly. We are finding ways to use this position to advance the shift to sustainability and financial inclusion.
Anna Kratova – Director, Sustainability at Mambu
The world of work is changing in more ways than one. Sustainability represents one of the most significant challenges and opportunities of our time, and businesses have the power to affect positive change through what they do – and how They do it.
At TravelPerk, we’re fortunate to work with thousands of incredible companies around the world. Many of them are moving towards building a sustainable future through their business models, values, practices and daily operations. We caught up with Mambu – a SaaS cloud banking provider helping banks transform into a digital core – to learn more about how they’re integrating sustainability into their business and why it works for them.
Mambu is a spotlight
Mambu was founded in 2011 by Frederic Pfisterer, Eugene Danilkis and Sofia Nunes who initially built a technological infrastructure for microlenders in Africa. During a university placement on micro-lending and after contacting banks in emerging African countries, the founders realized that the operating systems the banks were using were outdated, non-existent, or too complex for micro-lending, which was undermining financial inclusion. They decided to bring banking to places where it was not available in traditional ways, and what started as a university project became a company mission that lays the foundation for everything businesses do today.
Fast-forward to today, and Mambu is a unicorn company bringing a better banking experience to millions. By providing a modern cloud banking platform, Mambu empowers banks and other financial institutions to create banking products and services that improve people’s financial lives.
Mambu sits at the intersection of digital technology, innovation and the financial sector.
By building on its extensive partner ecosystem and technological capabilities, Mambu can help banks develop appropriate sustainable financial products to help them better understand what they are financing, take action and convert it into better projects. Sustainable financial services such as impact accounts, green mortgages, green loans and green savings accounts are becoming an expectation among consumers where 75% of accounts will be owned by a generation with a completely different relationship with money this decade.
Addressing climate change within the banking industry
When you think of industries that emit high amounts of carbon, banking is usually not one of them. That’s because we’re often used to considering Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, and historically, banking has been left out of that conversation.
Opportunity 1: Direct emissions from company-controlled resources – i.e. emissions that occur as a direct result of a specific set of activities
Opportunity 2: Indirect, proprietary emissions from the production of purchased energy such as electricity, steam, heat and cooling
Opportunity 3: Indirect, proprietary emissions not linked to a company’s operations
It’s true that emissions from banks seem fairly low if you think about it. The major volume of these emissions comes from the energy needed to run an office or send professionals on business trips. But the real emissions within the banking sector come from exactly what they finance. What do they enable with the money they pay? Does that money sustain the environment or flow into activities harmful to it?
This is at the core of the conversation around emissions within banking, and is something that only started to be discussed 3-4 years ago. This directly links to one of the sector’s primary pain points – a lack of understanding and knowledge on how to start calculating the impact and footprint of their portfolios. Automation, lack of tools, inadequate methodology and comprehensive data are some of the challenges the sector faces in addressing this issue.
Insights into becoming a more sustainable business
When businesses face the question of “Why should we bother with sustainability?”, the answer is simple. Because there is no business on a dead planet. This is why industry, and indeed all industries, need to move away from this question and make sustainability issues an imperative. After decades of voluntary sustainability activities, we have lost the ability to deliberate about the business case for sustainability. We are now in a time where this is a necessity.
Historically, there have been leaders in corporate sustainability – both sectors and individual companies – who have advanced sustainability and integrated it early in their business either due to consumer or regulatory pressure or due to their visionary leadership. The fintech sector, however, is relatively new to the topic and we are just beginning to see strides towards sustainability.
Mambu is an example of a fintech company that is trying to integrate sustainability into its business from the start. What lessons can you apply to your business to follow Mambu’s (non-carbon) footprint?
Maintaining the right balance
Maintaining balance is also important here. You often see companies talking about positive impacts while their negative impacts are virtually out of the picture. In fact, for many businesses, it should be the other way around. You should start by looking at the negative effects and develop a strategy to reduce them first. This is what Mambu has done and it has informed their short, medium and long term roadmap and strategy.
Placing value on employee well-being
Enabling employees to make a positive impact outside of their day-to-day work is another pillar of their sustainable work and looks at increasing positive impact. Employees are given benefits such as a grant budget and time off to volunteer. For example, since the beginning of 2022, the company has donated almost 200K euros to charities working on various social impact causes and collectively spent more than 300 hours in community volunteering activities.
Addressing sustainability and impact finance
Mambu has another important area in the context of the wider banking industry. They have a strong focus on sustainable and impactful financing, aiming to help industry make such solutions the norm and make sustainable transitions faster and smoother. The company focuses heavily on financial inclusion as a key driver of their impact finance work and is looking for ways to support this more structurally through whole organization commitments. It clearly aligns with their core business values and mission to make banking more accessible to those who traditionally have not been able to access it.
Putting Mambu’s sustainable vision into practice
What strategies did Mambu adopt to become a sustainable business?
- Complete a thorough sustainability self-assessment
Mambu’s team took a long, hard look in the mirror and analyzed what they were doing well and, importantly, where they could improve. They asked themselves “Where are we having the most significant negative impact? Where can we make the biggest positive contribution?” It laid the foundation for their entire strategy and subsequent actions – and should form the foundation for any business trying to figure out how to become more sustainable. Without it, you’re just fumbling in the dark or for incremental change. Wasting corporate resources.
- Brings sustainability up to C-level
At Mambu, C-level executives are all part of a Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Committee. Enhancing sustainability as a key topic on the C-level agenda is moving Mambu’s initiative away from “nice-to-have” recycling initiatives and toward projects that can truly move the needle on managing negative and positive impacts.
- Focusing on awareness and learning
Engaging their community is a top priority for Mambu. How do they do that? Through a sustainability program founded on transparency that guides employees on their path to sustainable transformation, taps into common values and involves them in decision-making.
What specific initiatives did Mambu implement to get the ball rolling?
- Introducing a sustainability policy for the company
This policy clearly outlines the company’s commitment to sustainability and the responsibilities that each new teammate must fulfill while at Mambu.
- Launched a Sustainability Knowledge Centre
Mambu launched a sustainability course for all its employees, including executive leadership, created a dedicated Slack channel that serves as a lively forum to share sustainability ideas and news and discuss decisions and initiatives, and even opened an extensive knowledge library.
- Created a green travel incentive program
Recognizing that there is still a strong need for colleagues to meet in person, Mambu decided to look at ways to promote eco-friendly options in geographies where possible. With TravelPerk’s GreenPerk API, Mambu is able to track how employees travel and make informed decisions and take action on where they can reduce their travel-related carbon footprint. Mambu admits they are not on track to meet their travel reduction targets as people want to make the most of being able to meet in person again after a two-year Covid break.
However, they see a relative increase of 1,22% in train travel since the introduction of the travel policy in January 2022, and a 23-fold increase in the targeted Amsterdam-London destination which includes most of their travel in Europe. This is an example of how an internal financial incentive and individual action meet in the middle for a positive outcome.
- Making coding more sustainable
As a cloud-based business, coding is at the heart of Mambu’s operations. That’s why the company puts so much emphasis on creating a roadmap so that the way they code doesn’t waste energy and produce too many emissions.
What we do today affects tomorrow. Where we choose to work, how we choose to live and how we consume have a complex impact on our collective future: for better or for worse. As Mambuvian, we are proud to be part of the solution which is why we continually work to shape our mindset and practices around sustainability.
Eugene Danilkis – CEO and co-founder of Mambu