Distance is a big topic these days. That said, while physically, we may be very far apart, we cannot ignore the vital importance of coming together and uniting under common goals. Now more than ever, it’s important we work together to have the greatest possible impact during these unprecedented times.
Guided by United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 17, Partnership for the Goals, here’s how we’ve joined forces (and continue to), to bring some stability to an unstable time:
1. Partnering with federal government and other banks
With lockdowns enforced in many countries in the past months and restaurants, bars and shops being forced to close, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to keep their heads above water. We’ve intensified engagement with our clients, supported by research and solutions teams. And gone beyond government relief programs to provide increased loans globally by USD 15 billion this quarter to our clients around the world.
Our corporate clients in Switzerland
In Switzerland, we’re supporting the emergency measures announced by the Federal Council to provide Swiss small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) quick access to emergency funds: we’re providing liquidity to our clients with intact business models and enabling clients to suspend their loan amortization payments. We have provided over 24’000 SMEs with COVID-19 credit lines amounting to CHF 3.3bn in total. And we will donate any profits from interest on COVID-19 loans to aid projects that benefit the community. We’re also supporting our corporate clients with tools and advice on their liquidity and financial planning as well as regularly sharing insights on how the economy is developing.
Small businesses in the United States
In the United States, we’ve supporting small businesses by enabling clients to access the U.S. Small Business Administration's new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through a referral lender, which issues loans as part of PPP. As part of this initiative, we expect to make up to USD 2 billion available so that the referral lender can increase their capacity to issue loans and that way support our clients in accessing needed short-term capital.
2. Partnering with foundations and non-profits
So far, we’ve committed USD 30 million to Swiss and global aid programs. These funds are directed by our UBS Optimus Foundation and Community Affairs program to help the most vulnerable in our communities, support our existing community partners and match the donations from employees and clients.
Additionally, the Group Executive Board are donating an equivalent of 50% of their salary over six months to COVID-19 aid projects either through the UBS Optimus Foundation or directly to projects of their choice.
UBS Optimus Foundation launches global emergency response
We’re working with existing partners as well as establishing new partnerships to allow employees and clients to donate to support COVID-19 relief projects. Next to its focus areas of health, education, protection and environment, our UBS Optimus Foundation is focused on global emergency response, partnering with organizations like Americares, the Beijing United Charity Foundation (BUCF), Médecins sans Frontières and the Swiss Red Cross – all trusted partners working in the areas of emergency relief. The goal is to facilitate front-line health and prevention needs around the globe, detect cases as they emerge and respond by ensuring emergency treatment capacity.
UBS Community Affairs leads local response
Through our UBS Community Affairs program, we’ve worked to support local communities where we have a business presence. For the most vulnerable members of these communities, the onset of the pandemic posed life-changing challenges such as food insecurity, poverty, and isolation. Emergency grant funds from UBS supported a wide-range local grass-roots groups working directly with the most vulnerable. For example, in the United States we collected funds for No Kid Hungry (Share Our Strength). And in Poland, employee volunteers coordinated UBS-funded food packs to help reach families without access to school lunches following school closures. As the impact of the pandemic continues, we are also working to support recovery and rebuilding efforts in our communities by supporting entrepreneurship, tackling educational disadvantage and future-proofing our community partners.
3. Partnering with sustainable fashion brand BOTTLETOP
A key example of cross-industry partnership is the #TOGETHERBAND campaign we launched last year with sustainable fashion brand BOTTLETOP to raise awareness and support for all 17 of the SDGs.
Since March 2020, net proceeds from the campaign go toward the #TOGETHER Fund, an initiative started by the Bottletop Foundation to tackle COVID-19, while continuing to advance all the goals. Of the net proceeds raised through the #TOGETHER Fund, 50 percent will be donated to the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and Médecins sans Frontières and the remaining 50 percent will go to projects selected by the UBS Optimus Foundation and Bottletop Foundation.
4. Partnering with employees
Our employees have efficiently adapted to conditions and new ways of working: 90,000 employees are able to connect from home without any restrictions and with full access to tools and capabilities all thanks to the tireless efforts of our technology teams. This way we continue to provide high quality advice and services to our clients at the time they need it the most.
We enhanced flexibility for evolving family needs, increased our offering for physical and mental health awareness programs and extended employee advisory services and telemedicine benefits. During this time of uncertainty, we’ve provided job security to employees by suspending any new restructuring activities until the situation normalizes.