Since its inception nearly 10 years ago the EBRD Trade Finance e-Learning Programme has blossomed into the largest continuous education programme in the trade finance sector, being highly praised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and many other international financial institutions.
The e-Learning Programme was set up by the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in May 2010. It initially consisted of four online courses which students had to complete in order to attend the graduation ceremony. Of the 99 students from 30 different banks across 10 countries enrolled in the programme, 30 students attended the first graduation ceremony held in Moscow, Russia, in 2011.
Since then the course has developed into seven online modules with more than 5,400 specialists from over 340 organisations and 48 countries across eastern Europe, Central Asia and the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) participating.
The online school is delivered by Coastline Solutions and EdTech Company. Coastline Solutions has been a reliable partner over the years, enabling the EBRD to train more than 5,000 professionals from 185 banks in all economies where the EBRD operates. It has recently developed, in conjunction with the EBRD, two new modules: “Introduction to Trade Finance”, which is available in Arabic, French, Mongolian and Russian, and “Environmental and Social Issues in Trade”.
Biggest and best yet
As the e-Learning Programme has grown and the EBRD’s operational relationship with Russia stopped, the graduation was shifted to Minsk, Belarus, in 2015. Minsk was a more accessible location for our students so this enabled the graduation ceremony to grow into the impressive event it is today.
This year – 2019 – will go down in the e-Learning Programme’s history because its latest (and eighth) graduation ceremony was the biggest and best yet. The EBRD has been hosting the ceremony in Belarus for the past three years and this year, to elevate its importance, it hosted the e-Learning “Dinner of Champions” graduation ceremony, created jointly with the International Compliance Association (ICA). With over 130 students attending from 25 banks in 10 countries, Minsk rolled out its red carpet to welcome industry professionals and celebrate academic excellence.
The TFP brings the best environmentally friendly practices to not only its products but also its events. The Dinner of Champions had a largely vegetarian menu and there were no plastic bottles, paper programmes or any other single-use plastic items.
The EBRD and ICA first started working together in 2018 to bring international certification and academic standards to the compliance work of the EBRD’s partner banks. The courses are funded by both institutions and focus on drivers that affect correspondent banking. This unprecedented project establishes international standards in the fight against financial crime in the EBRD regions.
This year the top 50 graduates from Belarusian banks who completed the “Trade Based Money Laundering” and “Know Your Client and Customer Due Diligence” foundation courses received certificates from the President of the ICA, Bill Howarth. Bill described the graduation ceremony as a wonderful occasion: “I have officiated at a great number of ICA award ceremonies over the last 20 years and this one was up there with the best of them. Passionate students and a well organised event. Great experience.”
The graduation ceremony has become a highly anticipated industry tradition, as top students have the opportunity to win private sector, donor-funded scholarships, internships and prizes. A special mention goes to our 2019 sponsors who include Banco Popolare di Sondrio, Bank of China, BCR Publishing, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, ICC Austria, ICC Paris, KBC, ODDO BHF and the Joint Vienna Institute.
This year's graduation ceremony was the biggest and best yet:
Over 130 students attending from 25 banks in 10 countries
The awards ceremony not only makes students feel special, but also motivates them to achieve the highest academic results. As Stephen Clinton from Coastline Solutions points out: “It is a wonderful energetic event which showcases the success of the EBRD’s Trade Finance e-Learning Programme. The graduation ceremony provides us with an opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact of the programme and meet the trade finance professionals of the future.”
The Dinner of Champions was an inspiring event for all those involved and lived up to the “Time For Party” motto of the TFP team, being filled with friendship, laughter and dancing in the true Belarusian art of hospitality.
“The graduation ceremonies are deeply social,” enthused one student from Tunisia, “because all professionals that work with international trade are surrounded by their peers, not only in Belarus but also other countries where the EBRD invests, such as Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, North Macedonia, Tunisia and Uzbekistan. We are surrounded by the colleagues and partners whose opinions we value.”
And it’s not all about making money. “There is a special relationship when working with the EBRD because it not only cares about providing finance but also career development – it is something beyond just business.”
As the founder and operation leader of the EBRD Trade Finance e-Learning programme, I can only say that this programme is the Bank’s extraordinary opportunity to do something important – cultivate talent and provide new opportunities for colleagues in partner banks.
And behind every successful project is a gifted project team. On the TFP side the programme and graduation are managed by Anna Brod, Hannah McKay and Shokhrukh Inamov. The event in Belarus was supported excellently by the Resident Office team, including Associate Director Head of Belarus Alex Pivovarsky, who delivered a superb presentation on the EBRD’s work in Belarus, and the wonderful administration team of Anastasiya Sarokina and Polina Nadolskaya.
It is a wonderful energetic event which showcases the success of the EBRD’s Trade Finance e-Learning Programme. The graduation ceremony provides us with an opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact of the programme and meet the trade finance professionals of the future.