Rachael Barber: In pursuit of innovative development partnerships

By Eliza Villarino 12 October 2011

Rachael Barber, head of Barclays’ global community investment program. Photo by: personal collection

Barclays has been forging innovative partnerships with the likes of CARE, Plan International, UNICEF and the World Food Program. Behind it all is Rachael Barber, who heads the financial services firm’s 50-country community investment program.

Barber is one of today’s most influential development leaders under 40 in London. She and her peers have inspired change that transcends borders.

Devex is recognizing 40 of these young London-based trailblazers in international development. They are social entrepreneurs, government leaders, development consultants, business innovators, advocates, development researchers, nonprofit executives, philanthropists and investors.

We asked Barber about her leadership and vision for development cooperation in the years to come. Here’s what she said:

What do you see as your main achievement in community development around the world?

Seeking out and entering into truly collaborative partnerships with some great NGOs. The partnerships I am most proud are those where all partners have been able to combine their expertise, assets and reach to drive impact. From a Barclays perspective that means leveraging our philanthropic budgets and our employees, and, importantly, our product development people. It is inspiring to see the sustainable impact this approach can have on people’s lives, from girls in the slums of Mumbai to village entrepreneurs in rural Kenya.

How have you convinced Barclays to increase community investment despite ongoing global financial calamities?

That was easy. I am lucky that the senior leaders I work with at Barclays absolutely recognise the importance of investing in communities, especially when times are tough. They constantly lead by example and show great commitment, so there was never really any doubt we’d continue to invest.

What innovative financial schemes are you eager to push in the coming years to boost global development?

I am really excited about the innovation work we are doing. We have set up a fund and are testing an approach to drive the innovation of financial products and services that both deliver against development goals and create value for Barclays. Examples supported so far include work Barclays Corporate Bank has undertaken with the World Food Programme to support small-holder farmers in Mozambique, as well as our pilot in partnership with Care International and Plan International to link those who are currently unbanked in four African countries to the formal financial system.

Read more about the Devex 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders in London.

About the author

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Eliza Villarino

Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.


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