Arnaud Levasseur, team leader of global trade solutions at Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), explores the integration of ESG into supply chain finance through an innovative partnership with CIEL Textile, shedding light on the journey and challenges faced.

 

As a purpose-driven leading bank in Mauritius and Sub-Saharan Africa, MCB prioritises sustainability-related issues in its daily activities.

Over the past year, the banking group has partnered with CIEL Textile, a world-class player in the textile and garment industry with a strong footprint in Asia and Africa, to give life to its sustainable supply chain finance programme. More than a financial solution, this facility required strong collaborative momentum from multiple relevant teams, creating an innovative scheme that blends supply chain finance and ESG.

MCB launched its sustainable supply chain finance product in May 2023. Floreal International and FSM, subsidiaries of CIEL Textile, were the first to benefit from this facility on a pilot basis, developed in line with the International Chamber of Commerce’s Standards for Sustainable Trade. The facility was crafted by the global trade solutions (GTS) team within MCB’s global transactional banking business unit, in close collaboration with a deal team and CIEL Textile’s textiles business. This is, in brief, how the project is communicated to our stakeholders. But behind any initiative of this kind, there are some untold stories.

Through this financing solution, all the teams involved worked together to create a specifically tailored solution aiming at supporting products categorised as sustainable, across both imports and exports, ensuring they benefit from a consistent financial support structure while enhancing the competitiveness of sustainable products.

Setting up this financing programme resonates strongly with our beliefs. Put simply, our approach is to integrate ESG issues within trade financing.

Since 2018, our banking group has overhauled its way of doing business, with Success Beyond Numbers – our sustainability philosophy – setting out our aim to have a positive economic, social, environmental and cultural impact on the communities in which we operate.

In our view, creating such a solution from scratch was a perfect occasion to walk the walk and demonstrate our willingness to play a key role for the planet and society. This new scheme has had the full support of the highest level of the bank.

The sustainable supply chain finance solution we developed enables businesses to optimise their working capital by boosting their cash flows. Eligible companies can also benefit from MCB’s expertise in risk analysis and structuring at a preferential rate.

As such, we set strict criteria against which businesses must demonstrate the viability of their activities in terms of environmental protection and socio-economic development. The solution allows them to align with the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5˚C, in line with commitments made at the Cop21 summit and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Teams within MCB and CIEL Textile worked closely to establish a strong partnership based on mutual collaboration through meetings and on-site visits.

“As the team progressed on the project, the client pushed us outside our comfort zone, requiring us to integrate various components of its supply chain into our analysis. This ultimately allowed us to better understand their commitment to ESG,” says Arnaud Levasseur, MCB’s team leader of global trade solutions. “We responded by integrating into our structure green letters of credit, whereby raw materials imported are certified by internationally recognised institutions such as RWS or BCI. We had several visits to the relevant factories to ensure initiatives being taken met with internationally recognised standards like the HIGG Index and BSCI.”

It was a source of great pride for us to finance a company that puts people, talent and human welfare at the heart of its projects and embeds community development and prosperity within its work. It also proved an eye-opening journey into the challenges around ESG, such as when our supply chain reviews meant visits to four factories in Bangladesh, Mauritius and Madagascar.

During this process, the GTS team gained an understanding of the client’s comprehensive supply chain, which operates as an integrated system across three countries, handling both technical and fashion yarn for sweaters. Thereafter, the team proposed bespoke supply chain finance and embedded a sustainability-linked line by leveraging unique solutions such as credit protection with international partners including Atradius, Credendo and AU Group. We crafted tailored solutions that not only mitigate risks but also meet customers’ working capital needs. By doing so, we enabled them to better capitalise on opportunities Africa presents for sustainable growth.

As our team proceeded with delivering this solution, we experienced perfect synergy with CIEL Textile and its Winning Well philosophy, which commits to sustainable and ethical ways of succeeding as a company. The group places sustainability at the core of its day-to-day activities by balancing profitability and prosperity involving all stakeholders, from employees and customers to the wider community.

In light of this programme’s success, we are actively promoting and influencing our clients to leverage this new scheme to unlock the value of their sustainable supply chains or to incorporate new methods or solutions to promote sustainability in their way of doing business. Our team has embedded the sustainability aspects of clients in their analysis to better raise awareness of sustainable developments.