What if the most mistrusted industry became the leading force for sustainable change in the world?
Banks aren’t to be trusted. At least, that’s the story we’ve come to believe, isn’t it? But sometimes all it takes is for one person (or two in this case) with a different outlook to make a change.
Benevolence Financial Group was founded by Mitchelle Katsande and Samuel Philipos in 2020. It was a chance meeting in Singapore in 2018 that first got them thinking of the possibility – what if businesses can be a force for change? They both loved the business model of Thankyou water, which says that in order to change the world, we must first change the system. The transparency and ethical nature of the brand was something that spoke to them and got them wondering if perhaps they could do the same with their own experiences. Sam had worked five years as a relationship manager at Commbank, while Mitchelle’s work was more in the social impact and enterprise space. The two schools of thought would usually collide, but in this case the opposite happened – they merged. And so, BFG was born.
But how can a mortgage brokerage firm be ethical? The premise behind it is simple. They specialise in home loans with a purpose, where 50% of profits made are invested to build affordable housing for families in need. In other words, by buying a home, you’re helping others have a home. They call it a home for a home. Better yet, it’s at NO cost to you, the buyer. BFG will invest on your behalf by giving up 50% of their commission to help other families get a home. In a dog-eat-dog sort of world, it’s a welcome relief to find a company willing to sacrifice some of their own money for the better of society.
“Personally, I was tired of businesses putting up this front,” says Mitchelle. “They say they’re going to do something but, in reality, they’re doing the exact opposite. Especially with the Royal Banking Commission in 2018, where we saw how banks were treating people. It got to the point where nobody trusted banks anymore, and to this day I don’t think many people do. It was then that we realised the potential we had to make a big impact in this space. People want to do good, and Covid has highlighted this more than ever. It’s time to make a positive change through our business.”
Let’s crunch some numbers. If they had just 1% of the Aussie home buying market, it would mean a contribution of almost $25 million for them to use in social impact initiatives. That’s a huge amount to work with to make a positive change in Australia. And it costs you nothing. All you have to do is choose an ethical mortgage broker, and they’ll do the rest. Your house is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so why not let it also have the biggest impact on society.
From a sustainability angle, part of their mission is to also keep clients informed along the way. As an independent advisor that works for the client, they help the client navigate the complexities of choosing the most ethical or sustainable bank while still getting you the best deal. It’s important to know who your money is going to and what they’re doing with it. The more transparent the process is, the better your chances are at making the right decision.
“Mortgages are a huge amount of money, and that money is often going somewhere you don’t want it to go if you choose to secure your mortgage through an unethical bank.”
Things are done a little differently at Benevolence Financial Group. Their projects are all centered around microfinance, which means giving a hand up, and not a hand out. It’s all about the circle of life – helping others with a loan at minimal interest and then re-funneling that money once it’s been repaid to help other people. And so, the circle continues. “The donations we make aren’t a one-off impact, instead, they’re recycled.”
The biggest question that people ask them is why. Why are you doing this? Most people can’t comprehend a world in which self-gain isn’t a number one priority. But in order to change the world, you have to change yourself. And so, when asked why, they simply reply with, ‘Why not?’ Why shouldn’t they be doing this? Why shouldn’t they be looking at the future? Why shouldn’t they be helping other people? And in turn, it’s a question you should be asking yourself, too.
Why not change the world?
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