Mauritius Commercial Bank Adopts the Equator Principles

With a  history that dates back to 1838, the Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd. joined nearly 80 financial institutions which have adopted the Equator Principles. These are voluntary guidelines to assess and manage environmental and social risks in project finance. Is GRI reporting next on MCB's sustainability leadership agenda?


According to a recent corporate presentation, the MCB has 2,700 employees, over 19,000 local and foreign investors, and around 900,000 individual and institutional customers. In addition to adopting the Equator Principles in May 2012, the MCB is also a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact.


Signatories to the UNGC are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. MCB’s latest Communication in Progress, a public reporting requirement under the UNGC, was completed for FY2009 and can be accessed here.


MCB’s COP report follows a simple table format and does not provide for a very engaging reading. I am also not a fan of reporting which, in effect, is a listing of only positive activities and/or outcomes. What about the gritty parts of life & business: the context, challenges and lessons learned? 


MCB’s CSR efforts detailed in its FY2011 Annual Report look impressive and deserve some kudos. They range from green loans and encouraging staff engagement to deliberate investments of the government mandated CSR Fund (2% of book profit during preceding year). I also noted that MCB’s had meetings with some 80 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in order to listen to their challenges and identify how to meet their needs.


The information presented in MCB's FY2009 COP and 2011 Annual Report suggests that MCB is ready to progress rapidly to a GRI-type sustainability reporting process. No doubt, such a report would better - and more credibly - showcase MCB’s CSR efforts over time, including engagement with stakeholders, accomplishments and challenges . It could also address the external reporting requirements associated with the Equator Principles and double as MCB's COP for the UNGC. This would further cement MCB's positioning among the sustainability leaders in its region and market segments.


What are your thoughts on MCB's adoption of the Equator Principles? How does MCB's reporting and engagement stack up when compared to its regional peers? 


About the author: Mehrdad Nazari (MBA, MSc, LEAD Fellow) is a Corporate Responsibility, GRI & ESIA Advisor, and Director of Prizma, an advisory practice. Mehrdad has also developed and delivered numerous short courses on IFC Performance Standards, Equator Principles and GRI’s sustainability reporting framework. His most recent sustainability reporting assignment involved ScottsMiracle-Gro and Lundin Mining Corp. Access Prizma’s Spring 2012 newsletters here.