By Rachel Robbins
VP and General Counsel
The International Finance Corporation
At the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, our focus is working with private companies in the developing world. But in 2002, our Washington, DC-based employees decided that they also wanted to help the needy in their own backyard.
So we initiated our own annual workplace-charitable-giving program, called the Community Connections Campaign. Its mission is to support charities that serve poor and disadvantaged residents of the DC metropolitan region and other worthy causes locally.
Each year a cadre of more than 150 volunteers at the World Bank Group organizes and encourages all Bank Group staff to give to more than 280 nonprofit organizations.
Our senior management team is very supportive of the nonprofit program and covers all of the administrative costs associated with the Campaign. That means that 100 percent of the funds raised by the IFC staff go directly to the charities. About 25 percent of those organizations also provide international development support overseas, and in this way we also accomplish our core mission.
Success in 2010: As part of this year’s fundraising campaign, IFC’s Legal Department hosted a silent auction on December 7. Organizers set up tables in the beautifully decorated atrium of the IFC building in downtown Washington, DC.
More than 200 people shopped in the room filled with what we called, “Treasures from the Field,” which included crafts, artwork, and other original items brought back by our staff members from field offices around the world. Entertainment and dining gift certificates were provided by local businesses.
Also for sale were original art and crafts by employees of IFC’s Legal Department — such as the two beautiful necklaces, pictured above, by IFC attorney Denizart Vallada-Neto. Other creative artwork was made and donated to the silent auction by the IFC legal staff, including Vlada Kano (a jeweler), Diana Attrache (a painter), and filmmaker Yasmine Bandali. (Read more about Vallada-Neto and Bandali, below.)
In two hours, the silent auction raised close to $5,000. And that was just the beginning. Volunteers across the World Bank Group made contributions that totaled more than $1.4 million, including individual donations and funds raised from more than 50 events organized by staff.
As part of their commitment to the program, the World Bank Group management then matched funds raised dollar-for-dollar — propelling our 2010 fundraising efforts to over $2.8 million. The World Bank Group has promised to make a dollar-for-dollar match of all staff contributions this year. We look forward to topping our $2.8 million total next December.
Talent in Our Midst: Meet Two of the IFC’s Artists
Jeweler Denizart Vallada-Neto: Above, you’ll find images of Denizart’s work. The top necklace is a mix of pearls, red and black coral, and Amazonian seeds. The lower photo shows a pre-Colombian amulet of gold-plated copper with pearls.
Pretty impressive craftsmanship by a man who has been with the IFC Legal Department for 20 years! Vallada-Neto has worked in projects all over the world and in several sectors. He is currently the Global Lead Counsel for the Consumer Services Group, which also covers Financial Markets projects in Latin America and Africa.
“I was born in Brazil, and my family was always involved in social projects of different kinds,” he explains. “My father was a doctor who practiced social medicine, and my mom was always involved in works with women and children. It was very natural for me, when moving to the U.S., to continue being involved in philanthropy.”
He says that donating his work to the IFC’s 2010 Silent Auction was a natural thing for him to do.
“When you come form a privileged background, you are almost compelled to give back to the community,” he says.
Vallada-Neto knows that to be truly good at his art requires hard work and dedication. While he has been painting and drawing since he was 12, making jewelry is something he’s only done since 2004. Following a recent trip to the Amazon region, he started working with tropical seeds, mixing them with stones and pearls. This year, he is planning to take courses on welding to learn how to work with precious metals and stones, and to continue searching for different materials for his creations.
“If I had the financial ability, I have a fantasy that I would devote myself to my artistic projects,” he shares. “On the other hand, given the nature of my work at the IFC and the satisfaction it brings to me, it would be a very difficult choice. Perhaps if I could strike a balance — like applying my artistic abilities to a certain line of services that IFC offers, like technical assistance and linkages — that would be just perfect.”
While dreams are wonderful, he believes it is important to see whether making them happen achieves more than just helping yourself. “I would encourage others to get involved with projects like our nonprofit,” he says. “It was extremely rewarding to see how much money we raised in a couple of hours. I think every organization should start hosting similar events.”
Filmmaker Yasmine Bandali: An employee in IFC’s Legal department who focuses on Knowledge Management, Bandali has a job that includes filming events.
“I have always loved movies and I love being creative, so it seemed natural to put the two together and make films,” she explains, noting that to her, giving back is a natural thing to do. “It feels like an accident of birth that we are fortunate. So why not celebrate good fortune by sharing it with others?”
Bandali believes artists create a spotlight that can draw people in. So for the 2010 IFC fundraiser, she engaged staff members in various DC nonprofit organizations by creating short videos — some with direct messages of philanthropy, and others that are about people involved in charitable deeds for the community at large.
“One of the videos I made was about a staff member who went to Haiti to build a house; another was about a staff member who went to Mali to work in an orphanage and took laptops to teach orphans some skills,” explains the woman who traveled to Kenya recently to direct and produce an indie flick called Ta Kimbia. It is the story of a Kenyan boy who dreams of running a marathon who must give up his hopes to support his family. He faces poverty, corruption, and family pressure, but finally achieves his dream, at a heavy price.
“I have never been so tired and elated all at once,” Bandali admits. “While being a full-time director is my dream, I am enjoying filming at IFC. After all, no matter where you are making movies, you are making an impact.”
View the trailer for the film on YouTube.
Learn more about the film when it was featured at the DC International Film Festival in March, 2010.
About the IFC
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group. It fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private-sector investment, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments.
IFC helps companies and financial institutions in emerging markets create jobs, generate tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities. The goal is to improve lives, especially for the people who most need the benefits of growth. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.