How Small Banks Are Innovating Our Economy

Patrick Hanlon
6 min readNov 29, 2022
Small banks are helping to rebuild disinvested areas one doorstep at a time

Undersized banks across the country and around the world are innovating our economy from the grassroots up. Unlike big banks that focus on dollar volume and returns for shareholders, small community banks, credit unions and other financial entities are responsive to the communities they serve. Their domain is economic development, financial equality, access to capital, sustainable access to credit, and preventing the predatory practices that have turned prevalent among lower income peoples.

These small and medium-sized banks are located all over the world. Triodos Bank, based in the Nederlands, for example, claims to be one of the most sustainable banks in the world. Started 40 years ago, their theme line “Made for change” proclaims their penchant for supporting sustainable energy, agriculture and for using money as a tool not to gain power, but as a tool to help our planet and the people who inhabit it.

In 2007, Triodos took their values even further and established the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). The expanded GABV organization today has 70 bank members and these banks — located in Europe, India, Africa, Australia, Brazil and the U.S., are each carefully vetted for impact, sustainability and values. Most of all, they help build the lives of over 60 million customers.

While pledging otherwise, the top six big banks placed $3.8 trillion in fossil fuel investment over last 4 years

Finance today seems to derive from two different religions — the big banks worship money, smaller banks honor people and communities.

But it takes only a mouse to scare off an elephant. Small banks and credit unions today are organized and intentional. Most of all, they are committed to adjusting the focus from the traditional “big is better” outlook to philosophies more adjusted to our times. While Big Banks and large corporations have made loud pronouncements about their green values, diversity and sustainability, over the last four years the top six banks placed $3.8 trillion into fossil fuel investment. Lobbyists and advocacy groups are also working hard to delay solar energy installations at the local level (solar permitting in California for example, can take 45 days, but only a few days in other states). Processed foods…



Patrick Hanlon

Author of “Primal Branding,” “The Social Code,” writer on Forbes, Medium, Inc., East Hampton Star. Founder