In a world in which change is both ever-present and accelerating, the qualities of innovation and adaptability are critical to health. It is this idea that Charles Darwin intended to convey in this often-misconstrued statement attributed to him: “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals.” What Darwin actually meant is that: the most “fit” is the one that fits best, i.e., the one that is most adaptable to a changing environment.
The Bendigo Bank Community Bank model was conceived when rural communities throughout Australia self-organized in the late 1990s in response to a series of bank branch closures that was choking off the flow of capital to their beleaguered economies. Bendigo and these communities rose to the occasion by co-creating a unique, part cooperative/part franchise model of banking that continues to scale across the country, regenerating and empowering the communities in which each branch is based.
The Viva Farms incubator is an example of a highly resourceful, adaptive response to a crisis in the farming community— the aging of the farmer population and the plight of migrant agricultural workers stuck in low-wage jobs. Viva Farms offers both technical and managerial training to these workers and provides lending programs that allow them to to secure equipment and infrastructure at affordable leases, which in turn gives them the ability to focus on gaining the skills and experience they need to succeed as the next generation of farm owners.