Thursday, August 20, 2020: While many large multi-national corporations in the Caribbean have stepped up to support communities and customers during the COVID19 pandemic, the approach taken by Republic Bank Eastern Caribbean Limited (RBEC), a newcomer to several of the OECS markets, has also been strategic and targeted.
Speaking on the approach taken by Republic Bank (EC), Managing Director, Michelle Palmer-Keizer explained “We understood immediately that Covid-19 would have an unprecedented negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of our communities and thus our approach had to address this. So in addition to specifically ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our staff, like other banks, we introduced a Customer Care Package. But we went further. We not only participated in the strategic regional response through the OECS, we executed the COVID Community Care initiative in every island in which we have a presence.”
At the regional level, the bank established a strategic partnership with the OECS Commission and donated US$200,00 to assist in the fight against Covid-19 in the OECS. This went to the procurement of medication and personal protective equipment (PPE) and to fund a public outreach programme.
The Bank’s Covid Community Care Initiative, sought to assess the most critical needs and communities in each territory and not only work more integrally with existing channels of emergency response, health and social welfare, but in addition, to direct donations to needy individuals. Each island required a slightly different approach and Republic Bank EC Limited’s willingness to customize speaks to its brand ethos of personalized customer relationships.
At the country level, each territory took a different approach, either working through health and community related institutions or providing direct support.
In St. Maarten, the St. Maarten Medical Center Foundation, a 69 inpatient bed non-profit hospital serving St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius and other surrounding islands, was provided with a ventilator in order to facilitate the care of their patients affected by the corona virus.
In Saint Lucia, the largest market with the potential for a more severe contraction rate, Republic Bank Saint Lucia, prioritized donations to the health services and vulnerable persons. The staff of the Gros Islet Polyclinic, which was the busiest designated Respiratory Clinic, was provided with meals. The Holy Family Children’s Home is a shelter for children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned were also given supplies to ensure their vulnerable dependents were taken care of during the crisis. Other organizations receiving support were Villa St. Joseph Home for the Elderly, Vieux Fort Children’s Home and Comfort Bay Senior Citizens Home.
A similar approach to support the institutions that care for the most vulnerable, was taken in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Our Lady of Guadaloupe Home for Girls, located in Cane End, St. Vincent, had experienced a massive fire which destroyed everything and had to relocate in the midst of COVID-19. Republic Bank EC Limited stepped up with supplying some of the critical household items and laptops for the girls to undertake online learning.
Also, in Anguilla Republic Bank made a donation of $10,000 through the Anguilla Red Cross, to distribute as food coupons to help individuals impacted by the Covid- 19. This initiative helped many who did not meet the criteria to receive assistance from Government programs or other existing programs.
A different approach was taken in supporting the islands of St. Kitts/Nevis and Dominica whereby direct support was given to needy individuals. The Bank partnered with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and made a donation of $7500.00 in St Kitts and $2500.00 in Nevis, while in Dominica donations were made directly to needy individuals and families in the communities consisting of hampers containing essential food items (such as rice, sugar, milk) frozen items and cleaning essentials.
Republic Bank EC Limited acknowledges the crucial role of each market’s Country Managers and their teams in helping coordinate the outreach in their respective islands. They were on the ground driving and delivering the Covid19 Care Initiative’s mandate, which is to uplift and unite the communities during one of the most dire times in recent history. Republic Bank (EC) Limited has no intention of relenting in its mission to demonstrate corporate citizenship that is relevant for this challenging new era.