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Interview with Beverley Gwadera, Head of Business Development at Ebury

  •  August 04, 2015
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Tell us about Ebury.

Last year, the world’s top NGOs lost $23.5 million on foreign exchange due to a lack of effective risk management tools. When every penny counts, it’s vital that NGOs prevent these losses and make the most of the funds they receive.

At Ebury, our specialist team is made up of experts from financial and charitable backgrounds and we work with NGOs to improve internal efficiencies and get more out of their financial activities. We help identify patterns in their income and output, which allows them tackle volatility in the currency markets with comprehensive risk management tools. This, coupled with access to over 140 currencies and fund distribution models, allows NGOs to work effectively in the most remote corners of the globe. NGOs also benefit from the expert market insights of our analysts; who are regularly quoted in media outlets, including the FT, and have a track record for accuracy when it comes to Bloomberg FXFC forecasting.

Ebury is headquartered in London, with 260 employees in offices across Europe. From here we work with over 5,000 businesses and organizations, helping to manage currency risk and strategically plan overseas transfers. We’re looking forward to bringing the same benefits we offer to European NGOs to their US peers.

We’re committed to efficient distribution, getting funds on the ground fast, and ensuring donations have maximum impact. This way we can guarantee your funds always end up in the right hands.

 

What is the latest product/service you are currently working on? What makes it stand out?

We recently launched new multi-payment and card solutions for better cash management, which will streamline and simplify payments for NGOs.

Thanks to our multi-payment solutions, NGOs can now make single and multi-payments, via a simple csv file, in different currencies to suppliers, partner organisations, or regional offices internationally. This significantly reduces operational pressure and provides a simple and effective payment process.

Our card solution means that NGOs can access their funds in the most remote corners of the world, without the expense of setting up in country bank accounts. The card solution is often used for payroll operations as it allows NGOs to distribute funds to cards, accounts or eWallets, for payroll or expense operations across the globe, quickly and easily. For the NGO, this means funds can quickly reach the place it is most needed, for fast disaster response.

These solutions, in conjunction with our existing currency exchange and risk management services, mean that NGOs can transfer, manage, and distribute their funds in the most effective way possible. This unique combination of solutions means we have everything the global NGO needs in order to operate across the world and maximise impact on the lives of their beneficiaries.

 

How big is Ebury’s involvement in humanitarian aid and disaster response today?

The impact of our work is felt across the world, as we enable NGOs globally to boost efficiency and make sure their funds end up in the right hands. Whilst we’re not a direct provider of aid, our support for the sector has ripple effects on aid programs internationally.

So far our work has centred on European NGOs, who we’ve connected with, met, and challenged opinions on traditional bank-based exchange and distribution methods.

We’re proud to partner with inspirational organizations across Europe, including Charity Finance Group (CFG), GivingTuesday, and Direct Impact Group, as well as event partners including AidEx Brussels, the leading European event for professionals in aid and development, where, once again, we’re Gold Sponsor. We’re hoping to kick start a similar US network through AIDF so we can reach out to NGOs large and small, and help them unlock the same benefits as their European counterparts.

We’re fully committed to the sector and hope, through collaboration, we can transform the face of international payments so every NGO can get a fair deal.

Our card solution means that NGOs can access their funds in the most remote corners of the world, without the expense of setting up in country bank accounts. The card solution is often used for payroll operations as it allows NGOs to distribute funds to cards, accounts or eWallets, for payroll or expense operations across the globe, quickly and easily. For the NGO, this means funds can quickly reach the place it is most needed, for fast disaster response.

What trends do you see for humanitarian aid and how does Ebury prepare for the future?

Year on year demand for funding outstrips the financial assistance available. We only have to look back at 2013 when the humanitarian community was confronted with emergencies of unprecedented magnitude. A staggering 97 million people were affected by natural disasters and a further 51 million were affected by conflict. According to the 2014 OCHA World Humanitarian Data and Trends publication, the past ten years has seen funding requirements of inter-agency appeals increase by 600%. In the same amount of time, the number of people targeted for assistance has more than doubled.

The trend for finding faster, more effective ways to deliver funds on the ground grows continually. Increased efficiency is paramount for delivering much needed financial aid to areas impacted by a natural disaster or conflict. Quite simply, the infrastructure locally is often destroyed and traditional methods of fund distribution not viable.

More creative ways of sending funds to avoid financial waste, improve speed, and to offer choice of receipt are needed. To meet this demand we constantly refine and develop our solutions to match the needs of the NGO world; streamlining the processes for making international multipayments, providing accessibility to wider ranges of local currencies, and offering the ability to access funds in remote places via card solutions and e-wallets. This way we strive to meet the demands of this critical sector, now and for the future.

 

Tell us about an NGO you've been working with. How has this relationship benefited their international operations?

Protecting funds against exchange rate volatility was the challenge that led to Save the Children to collaborate with Ebury. In particular, they were managing an aid program in the Philippines working to alleviate the effects of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the country in November 2013.

The main issue was ensuring that funds quickly reached their destination, with the least depreciation of value, thus maximizing their effectiveness on the ground. “Exchange rate fluctuation is a nightmare for any NGO; it can cause major disruptions to budgeting,” David del Campo, Head of International Cooperation and Humanitarian Action at Save the Children in Spain, commented.

To mitigate their risk and to optimize the transfer of funds to their program, Save the Children chose to work with us here at Ebury. Together we employed comprehensive risk management tools to cover their exposure for the Philippine Peso for the duration of their project. This provided a set exchange rate and peace of mind that their international transactions would not be affected by market volatility. The solution gave Save the Children visibility into the exact amount of funds which would be available on the ground and allowed them to maximize their impact.

 

Come and meet us at AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit 2015, where our experts will be in attendance and we’ll be part of the panel on Electronic Payment Models For Aid Operations on Friday, September 11 at Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. 

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