A conversation with Grameen partner, Erste Bank

This is a story of appropriating social enterprise which will end in death for s social business pioneer and many of the vulnerable children his work focussed on.  It is a story of dishonesty and moral cowardice which illustrates that social enterprise does more to harm itself  than anything done “not  in our name”.

“What if the economy benefited people and not people the economy ” the website proclaimed

It begins in the Summer of 2010, when the Social Business Tour is  hosted in Budapest and calls  for submissions in an Idea Contest 

By then our work has gone far beyond an idea, having long been published as a strategy plan on a very prominent website. I introduced this  through the suggested web portal. It derived from our 1996 paper describing an alternative economic model serving people, a people-centered form of economics.

It develops into a conversation when I introduce the prrof of concept project known as the Tomsk Regional Initiave

Dear Jeff,

thank you very much for contacting us concerning Your microfinance inintiative in Tomsk – could you provide us with more information on the activies you are pursuing in Ukraine and Russia currently?

As we are closely cooperating with Grameen Creative Lab currently on the so called Social Business Tour, and as I could understand from your mail you have already tried to be in contact with GCL, I think that we could potentially help you, if we would know what you want is your proposal?

Could you provide us with a summary of your activities and plans where you see our added value?

My very best regards,

Jan Kouba
Erste Group Bank AG
OE 0196 0324 / good.bee
A-1010 Vienna, Friedrichstrasse 10

I reply and receive an acknowledgement o of submission on 9th July:

Dear Jan,

Thanks very much for your reply. I am copying this to Terry our founder , currently in Ukraine.

The project is described here on our website and later reviewed in an interview for a follow on project in Crimea.

The strategy paper delivered to Ukraine’s government can be found here, in the links on our commercial website you’ll see impacts created when recommendations were implemented by government

Child care reform for example has led to a 40% increase in domestic adoption.

I should also mention, noticing that you have Serbia listed as one of your development areas, that Terry spent a week during 2004 to produce a preliminary proposal for the polluted Bor/Majdanpek region, which he may care to expand on.

Kind regards,

Jeff Mowatt

This marks the end of the conversation with competition winners later announced.  A few months later however , I’m shocked to see that our social enterprise proposal for Ukraine  under another banner with Erste as one of the partners.  The British Council who promote British culture and values overseas, taking the lead.  For many it will confirm what has long been suspected of business plan competitions.

When Terry Hallman died last year in poverty a year ago,  I gave  local civic activists a copy of the letter calling for support from USAID, from which they published an extract with their acknowledgement  of his efforts.   The broader scope of this letter may also be of interest, drawing attention to the spending in Iraq.

I’t perhaps ironic that in Terry’s original paper, he argues that once we accept that others are disposable and in the way, we accept the case for our own disposal.  Clearly he was in the way of political ambitions with lesser transparency. As he put it in the core argument “dismissing other people and consciously leaving them to die is probably not the way to go”

We must hold in mind that the focus on vulnerable children was far from welcome where it had become a profit centre for organised crime.  Banks least of all would want to alienate those wielding power.

“Profit maximising companies don’t go theresays Muhammad Yunus of social business“What kind of world is this. Should we leave everything to the decisions of the profit maximisers, for their benefit?“.

For the children concerned, profit maximisation is achieved by minimising care, with the consequence that like Andteyuska, the boy discovered by Albert Pavlov , many die of malnutrition.   Around 10-12% annually was the figure reported.

“Not in our name” say those who campaign against Sales force making private gain from the term ‘social enterprise’, yet   some off what is done under the banner of social enterprise, has a clear  disregard for human life.  In whose name does afive year old boy weigh in at 15 pounds?

Within two  years ,  Grameen themselves find  they are also in the way of political ambitions with the threat of  Bangladesh government   taking control. Some like Sir Richard Branson, have called on British government to stand by Yunus, unaware perhaps of the stance already taken.

Once again, we are rallied to the cause of solidarity, while at the same time forgetting wh at Martin Neimoller drew our attention to when he wrote:

“Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”


5 thoughts on “A conversation with Grameen partner, Erste Bank

  1. jeffmowatt says:

    Subject: Democracy and human rights in Ukraine
    To: flintc@parliament.uk
    Date: Tuesday, 14 October, 2008, 12:35 PM

    Dear Caroline,

    I took note of the recent commons debate and thought you may be interested in our work as a social enterprise. Over the last 4 years through activism and advocacy we have made considerable progress in Ukraine which follows the production of our Marshall Plan paper 2 years ago.

    Since then, Ukraine’s government has adopted as policy our recommendations for more than 400 rehab centres, doubling of the adoption allowance and most recently a pilot of a “family home for all orphans” proposal. The report submitted to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the same time as delivery to Ukraine ‘s government has also influenced the creation of the East Europe Foundation as part of USAID.


    Regrettably dismissal is all to common to the extent that the FCO does not trouble to respond. This Westminster Foundation for Democracy, has least interest of all it would seem. Perhaps they consider us a threat – competition for the public money they spend on our behalf.

    What my colleague Terry Hallman has achieved at considerable risk, with both of us committing our own funds and time, is extraordinary and yet the Grandees of democracy would rather it not be heard.

    Kind regards,

    Jeff Mowatt

  2. jeffmowatt says:

    From: Jeff Mowatt [mailto:jeff.mowatt@btinternet.com]
    Sent: 19 December 2008 21:15
    To: Sarah Ludford MEP (Lon)
    Subject: Edward Devey and Ukraine

    Dear Ms Ludford,

    I’m contacting you on a matter that may interest both you and Mr Davey. His
    website does not process emails, there is a technical fault. Perhaps you would
    be able to forward it to him?

    In a Westminster Hall debate this week Mt Davey raised concerns over the
    economic and social meltdown in Ukraine. It’s a situation of which I am well
    aware, from the perspective of an organisation with a social mission in

    I’d like to draw your attention to a paper produced by us two years ago
    which I recent submitted as a proposition for the European



    Kind regards,

    Jeff Mowatt

    People-Centered Economic Development UK Ltd

  3. jeffmowatt says:


    10 Downing Street



    Message flagged
    Friday, 16 May 2008, 16:45
    Your petition has been approved by the Number 10 web team, and
    is now available on the Number 10 website at the following


    Your petition reads:

    We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Support
    social business in a ‘Marshall plan’ against HIV and abandoned

    Recent news of the Business Call to Action Campaign and a
    petition for children dying in Bulgaria bring me here to
    request support for social business activism.

    In April 2006, our blog campaigning over the ‘Death Camps for
    Children’ in Ukraine became aligned to a strategy paper
    delivered to their government. It proposes
    de-institutionalising all children in a nil overall cost

    It derives from our advocacy for social capitalism, delivered
    12 years ago to President Clinton.

    It is regrettable to find so much obstruction within UK
    government, from government departments, MPs, APPGs and most
    recently our FCO who simply disregard that which the Prime
    Minister himself advocates. More regrettable still, that one of
    the signatories to the call for action hosts a smear blog
    condemning a social business.

    We ask that the government recognise and support social
    business efforts which remain so far off radar, still.

    Thanks for submitting your petition.

    — the ePetitions team

  4. jeffmowatt says:

    Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 10:34:26 +0100 (BST)
    From: Jeff Mowatt
    Subject: Ukraine and poverty
    To: HRDGGEnquiries@fco.gov.uk

    Dear sirs,

    I’m enquiring on behalf of People-Centered Economic Development , a social business operating in the UK which deploys profit to human rights and anti-corruption advocacy in Ukraine.

    Our origins are that of an organisation which leveraged a microfinance bank in Tomsk, Russia

    Over 5 years in Ukraine, we have engaged with Ukrainian communities. First with the repatriated Tatars of Crimea in a development proposal which has recently been re-submitted to US funding sources, in an region which continues to head toward inter-ethnic conflict.

    The main thrust of our work since P-CED became a UK business,.is the development of a ‘Marshall Plan’ which was submitted to Ukrainian and US governments in Novermber 2006. Response so far to this has been the announcement of plans to create 400 rehab centres for disabled children and the raising of adoption allowances in line with our estimation of need, just a week ago.

    So far all that we’ve achieved has been funded by ourselves. Our next move, having raised awareness of the neglect of disabled children in institutional care, is to create 10 examples of model care facilities, as a template for the 400 rehab centres we requested as part of the ‘Marshall Plan’ submission.

    In only the last few days, the UN reported on poverty levels in Ukraine and the threat that the HIV epidemic posed to Europe as a whole. This is how we reported it 2 years ago to US and Ukrainian governments :-

    “We see a staggering array of social problems arising directly from poverty, including but not limited to tens of thousands of children in orphanages or other state care; crime; disrespect for civil government because government cannot be felt or seen as civil for anyone left to suffer in poverty; young people prostituting themselves on the street; drug abuse to alleviate the aches and pains of the suffering that arises from poverty and misery; HIV/AIDS spreading like a plague amidst prostitution, unprotected sex, and drug abuse; more children being born into this mix and ending up in state care at further cost to the state; criminals coming from poverty backgrounds, ending up as bandits, returning to communities after prison, with few options except further criminal activity. These are all part and parcel of the vicious negative cycle of poverty, and this threatens to destroy Ukraine, if Ukraine is defined in terms of people rather than mere geographic boundaries. Overall, population is steadily declining; families have not sufficient confidence in tomorrow to reproduce more than 1.2 children on average per couple.”

    This new and now urgent initiative exceeds our funding capability. We need help in doing something about a human rights issue which has largely been overlooked, even by organisations like UNICEF.

    What we do, I believe, is fully congruent with.our Government’s advocacy for a Global Marshall Plan against poverty and endorsement of social enterprise as part of the solution.

    Could you please indicate whether the FCO is in any way prepared to offer support for our efforts in Ukraine, most of which are described on our website:


    Kind regards,

    Jeff Mowatt

    People-Centered Economic Development UK Ltd

  5. jeffmowatt says:

    The British Council is pert funded by the FCO and in December 2008, they are fully aware of out efforts in Ukraine





    Message flagged
    Thursday, 18 December 2008, 12:57
    Dear Mr Mowatt

    Thank you for your e-mail of 9 December. I am sorry that you have experienced difficulties in your previous contacts with the FCO. I can at least assure you that the Ukraine desk at the FCO, and our Embassy in Kyiv, are now aware about the activities of your organisation.

    Perhaps I could take this opportunity to clarify a few of the issues you raised in your e-mail about project funding.

    As you mentioned in your e-mail, DfID’s programme in Ukraine has now closed down. However, the UK contributes to the EU’s Assistance programmes (the EU is the largest donor in Ukraine). Most of the EU’s funding comes from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument which allocates over €124 million (around £98 million) annually to Ukraine.

    As far as the UK’s bilateral assistance is concerned, this is now mainly provided from the FCO’s Strategic Programme Fund, which has an annual budget of £650,000 for Ukraine. The management of this budget is devolved to the British Embassy, Kyiv. Further details of the Strategic Programme Fund, including the type of projects covered and how to apply for funding, can be found on the Embassy’s website (link below)

    The Westminster Foundation for Democracy are currently implementing a project entitled Strengthening Human Resources Development at the Verkhovna Rada in Ukraine. We are providing funding worth £150,000 in 2008/09 and £150,000 in 2009/10 from the Strategic Programme Fund for this project. Again you can find further details of this project on the Embassy website.

    With regard to the exhibition on the Holdomor in Parliament, I understood this was in fact funded by the British Ukrainian Society (an NGO). I was not aware that WFD had had any involvement in it.


    Yours sincerely


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