CAF America planning philanthropic initiatives to engage diaspora communities

June 22, 2017

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Interview with the group’s Senior Director of Development Rokas Beresniovas.

Rokas Beresniovas is the Senior Director of Development, Marketing, and Communications at Charities Aid Foundation – America. Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, CAF America bridges the gap between donors and beneficiaries. The organization has a presence in six continents and ensures that philanthropists both institutional and individual experience a hassle-free and effective transition of funds within the US as well as abroad. With experience spanning more than two decades, the organization has been managing charitable funds to the tune of more than $4 billion.

Prior to joining CAF America, the Lithuania-born Beresniovas was a Vice President at the State Bank of India California in Washington, DC.  He is a winner of the 2016 SmartCEO Washington DC Executive Management Award and was a finalist for the 2015 SmartCEO Washington DC Money Manager Award.

He has also served on the boards of a number of community organizations, including the Georgetown Business Association (GBA), Kids 4 Peace International and End Violence Against Women International.

In a freewheeling interview with the American Bazaar, Beresniovas talks about the organization’s endeavors for a clean and effectual philanthropic environment, globally, and, its plans to start diaspora funds.

Tell us about CAF America’s activities in India and South Asia. 

CAF America operates globally by supporting organizations that address immediate social needs through charitable giving, as well as maintaining connections between global communities. Our work in India and South Asia is no different and, by utilizing our services, donors are able to support a variety of great causes throughout the region ranging from food distribution to literacy training to environmental concerns, and many more. Additionally, our Global Alliance partner, CAF India, operates extensively within the country and works with a number of organizations on the ground.

For individual philanthropists and small organizations, what are the advantages of working with CAF America?

There are several advantages to working with a mid-size organization like CAF America. We are a proven leader in international giving with 25 years of experience in the field and counting. This allows our clients to give confidently, knowing their interests guide what we do on a day-to-day basis. In choosing to pursue philanthropic initiatives through CAF America, our clients are relieved of the administrative burdens of grantmaking while still being able to support the causes and issues that matter to them around the globe while still receiving a US tax-deduction that also benefits their growth and profitability in the US.

Our trusted expertise also allows us to explore creative solutions tailored to our clients should the need arise, including aligning charitable donations with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in support of the SDG Philanthropy Platform, of which we are a partner along with other industry leaders such as the Hilton, Rockefeller, Ford, and MasterCard Foundations.

CAF America recently started a diaspora fund for Bangladesh. Tell us more about it.

The Diaspora Gives Bangladesh (DGB) is a recent philanthropic initiative of CAF America’s that is designed to engage with the Bangladesh diaspora and provide them with an easy, safe, and effective model to give back to Bangladesh with funds earned abroad.

DGB is a partnership led by CAF America with USAID and Chevron as instrumental partners. By providing a solution for international, tax-effective giving, DGB enables members of the diaspora to give in a concerted manner to support a variety of causes and geographic areas.

Diaspora communities possess a significant amount of financial and human capital while often having considerable interest in giving back to their home countries to address economic and social challenges. DGB’s objective is to empower the Bangladeshi diaspora to tax-effectively channel philanthropic capital to their country of origin in ways that are beneficial for community and country-wide sustainable development.

Are you considering similar funds targeting other diaspora groups, including Indian Americans?

CAF America is indeed considering opening similar funds focused toward other diaspora populations. Bangladesh is our inaugural initiative, but through diligent monitoring and research we expect to be able to identify a number of suitable diaspora communities residing in North America with which we hope to engage.

You are transitioning from banking to philanthropy and development. How big of a challenge is that?

Philanthropy and NGO’s both require considerable due diligence to ensure that the client’s financial capital is used for its intended purpose. This requires adhering to regulations, such as anti-money laundering rules, as well as taking care to mitigate risk and protect the client’s reputation. The difference with international development is that the financial investment also help donors to give back internationally to vetted charities around the world, which is a rewarding way to help direct investments. Read more.

Rokas to moderate a panel on Social Development With the BRICS

May 15, 2017

Rokas to moderate a panel on Social Development With the BRICS at the Embassy of Russian Federation in Washington DC

THE EURASIA CENTER / EURASIAN BUSINESS COALITION The 5th Annual “DOING BUSINESS WITH THE BRICS” CONFERENCE

Monday, May 15, 2017 |Washington, DC | 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Evening Reception 5:30-7:00 pm)

In Cooperation with:

The Ambassadors and Embassies of the BRICS Nations, Washington, DC

Hogan Lovells Conference Center (Morning Session) 555 13th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004

THE EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION (Afternoon Session) 2650 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

Conference Agenda

8:00 – 9:00 am – Registration/Breakfast
9:00 – 9:15 am – Welcome/Introduction
Dr. Christine Warnke, Senior Governmental Affairs Advisor, Hogan Lovells
The Eurasia Center/Eurasian Business Coalition Officials

9:15 – 10:15 am – 1st Morning Panel
New Developments in the BRICS –
Multinational Investment Support for Businesses:
New Development Bank (NDB/BRICS);
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Moderator: Charles Sills, Senior Advisor, The Eurasia Center/EBC
Minister Fernando Pimentel, Head of the Economic Section, Embassy of Brazil
Gilles Alfandari, Advisor, Multilateral Organizations, The World Bank
Kate Bishop, Business Development, EXIM Bank

10:15 – 11:15 am – 2nd Morning PanelExpanding Market Share & Trade Development with the BRICS: Opportunities for Product & Service Sector Growth, Moderator: Richard Trifan, VP, Government Relations & Trade, EC/EBC
Ambassador James Keith, Managing Director, Leads McLarty Associates Asia Practice
Arunish Chawla, Minister, Economic Affairs, Embassy of India
Malose Letsoalo, Minister, Economic & Commercial Section, Embassy of South Africa

11:15 – 11:40 am – BRICS Networking Break

11:40 am – 12:45 pm – 3rd Morning Panel & Lunch
New Infrastructure, Transportation Projects & Joint Ventures with the BRICS
Moderator: Earl Rasmussen, Executive Vice President, Eurasia Center/EBC
Aman Khanna, Consultant, World Bank
Secretary Ricardo Daskal Hirschbruch, Head, Trade & Investment Bureau, Embassy of Brazil
Suzanne Etcheverry, Director, Funds Portfolio Management, Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Reston Limousine Bus Service available to Paid Conference Participants (transfer) 1:00 pm

Conference Continues at The Embassy of the Russian Federation

THE EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION (Afternoon Session)
2650 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

2:00 pm – Welcoming Remarks
Denis Gonchar, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Russian Federation

2:15 – 3:15 pm – 4th Panel Afternoon
Initiatives for Technological Innovation with the BRICS: The New Energy Grid
Moderator: Ralph Winnie Jr., VP Global Development, Director China Program, EBC
Christine Warnke, Senior Governmental Affairs Advisor, Hogan Lovells
Andrey Bondarev, Head, Economic Section, Embassy of the Russian Federation
Li Bin, Counselor, Head, Economic Affairs Section, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

3:15 – 4:15 pm – 5th Panel Afternoon
BRICS: Managing Political/Financial Risk, Legal Developments and Challenges
Prospects for Improving East and West Relations, The Way Forward
Moderator: Tom Thomson, Managing Director, T. Thomson & Associates
Rajen Ranchhoojee, Special Legal Counsel, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Thomas Sullivan, Attorney, Marks & Sokolov, LLC
Timothy O’Toole, Attorney, Miller & Chevalier Charterece

4:15 – 4:30 pm – BRICS Networking Break

4:30 – 5:30 pm – 6th Panel Afternoon
Global Growth Regions in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa
Social development with the BRICS: Education, Health, Workforce Training
Moderator: Rokas Beresniovas, Senior Director, CAF America (Charities Aid Foundation of America)
Vlad Sukhoparov, Director, Eurasian Markets, Research International
Aleksandr Kondrashin, future official working for Trade with the Russian Far East, Moscow
Sergei Andronikov, Dean, School of Business, American College of Commercial Technology
Ksenia Dyadyunova, Eiffel Scholar, Aix-Marseille University Labor Law Center (CDS)

5:30 – 7:00 pm – Evening Reception and Golden BRICS Awards

Register here.

Beresniovas joins CAF America as its new Senior Director

March 16, 2017

Beresniovas joins CAF America as their new Senior Director after 17 years of experience in the finance industry and an extensive background with non-profits in both volunteer and board member capacities. Recently, Rokas was awarded the 2016 SmartCEO Washington DC Executive Management Award and was a finalist for the 2015 SmartCEO Washington DC Money Manager Award. Read more.

naisA Featured Mentor: Rokas Beresniovas

January 30, 2017

naisA Career Mentoring Session

Jan 30 Mentoring Session Flyer

 

No, you cannot deposit, or exchange Indian rupee in the United States

November 16, 2016

(AB Wire)

One of the clearest options for overseas Indians is to travel back to India to exchange the notes in person.

A sign in in front of the SBI-California office in Washington, DC.
A sign in in front of the SBI (California) office in Washington, DC.

In the past week, ever since the Government of India announced that they will be phasing out the 500 and 1,000 ($7.35; $14.70 ) Indian rupee denominations to combat corruption and the “black money” economy, my inbox and phone have been off the hook.

I work for a bank based out of India operating in the US and people who relied on the black money currency want to deposit it before it becomes worthless. In the morning, I usually find up to 100 messages from the night before and during the day, sometimes all four lines are ringing simultaneously. And then there are walk-ins. Yesterday, one person came in with a grocery bag overflowing with rupees. Today, I got yelled at in person, which I guess was at least a change from getting yelled at on email.

The 22 billion banned currency notes represent 85% of the cash in circulation in India, which is an overwhelmingly cash-based economy. This change represents a challenging overhaul, but it is intended to move away from untaxed, below board exchanges to benefit the modernization of the country in the long run. Experts say, this decision will make or break Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister.

Despite many rumors about which banks do or do not accept or exchange rupees in the United States, the fact is, they are not legal banking tender in the United States of America. Not even our bank, even with the word “India” in the bank’s name, takes deposits in Indian money. We are regulated by the U.S. authority and do business in U.S. currency just like any other bank here.

So where does the confusion arise? Some banks offer something called foreign currency accounts, but they are often for high premiums, only for competitive foreign currencies, and require vetting processes for high level investors in the international market.

Additionally, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) says that Indians could deposit the bills in non-resident ordinary rupee accounts, a type of bank account where people living abroad park income earned in India.  However, even if you do have a non-resident ordinary rupee account that account is still located in India and not in the U.S. Therefore, you still have to travel to India in order to make that cash deposit.

An email the writer received from an angry customer.
An email the writer received from an angry customer.

One of the clearest options for overseas Indians is to travel back to India to exchange the notes in person. Indians will be able to exchange their old notes for new ones at the country’s banks until December 30. Overall, the difficult reality is that U.S. banks do not operate on these notes, and there is little the banks can do. I hope this clears up the confusion that people might have.

Read more.

Rokas Beresniovas Named SmartCEO 2016 Center of Influence Honoree in Washington DC

October 10, 2016

 

Rokas Beresniovas named SmartCEO 2016 Center of Influence Honoree in Washington DC.
The Centers of Influence Awards program honors the leadership, innovation, impact and success of the region’s most enterprising accountants, attorneys and bankers. These professionals represent the best and brightest in the region and have demonstrated an unrivaled commitment to their clients.

2016-centers-of-influence

Celebration of International Peace Day

August 21, 2016

Please join me to celebrate International Peace Day
to benefit Kids 4 Peace International

September 21
6:00pm – 8:00pm

The Balcony of Baker & McKenzie
815 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington DC

Wine, beer & food provided | Business attire

Please register @ http://www.k4p.org/peaceday/

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IPD

Evening with Dr. Madeleine K. Albright and Max Weinberg

August 19, 2016

Please join me for an evening with Dr. Madeleine K. Albright and Max Weinberg, E Street Band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Drummer

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August 31
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Hill Country BBQ
410 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

Please register @ https://goo.gl/7xMRky

Herlife Magazine International Model Competition

July 30, 2016

We are so proud to introduce you to the next exceptional judge for our Herlife Magazine International Model Competition on August 7, Rokas Beresniovas, Vice President at the State Bank of India (California) in Washington, DC!

Giving back to the community is extremely important to Rokas. In 2007, he joined the Georgetown Business Association (GBA) and was elected VP in 2011 and President in 2012. Currently, Rokas is a board member of Pebbles of Hope, Kids4Peace International, Joy of Motion Dance Center, and an honorary board member for The Embassy Series. In the past, Rokas served on the Board of Directors for the CSAAC Foundation, the GMC and Global Tassels!

Recently, Rokas was awarded the 2016 SmartCEO Washington DC Executive Management Award and was a finalist for the 2015 SmartCEO Washington DC Money Manager Award. He also won a Global Tassels Community Innovator Award (2015) and The Eurasia Center Golden BRICS Award (2014)! Rokas is also the founder of the Lithuanian nonprofit organization Global Lithuanian Leaders (GLL) and was recognized by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2015 for outstanding leadership in youth mentoring!

We are so honored to have such an exemplary member of the community serve as a judge for our TOP MODEL Competition, to help us select the best girls to represent the U.S. and HERLIFE for our international modeling initiative in Italy this September!

BUT, WE NEED YOUR HELP! As an attendee, your support and vote COUNTS! Buy your tickets to attend the big event, and your vote will be weighed in to the judge’s decision! Help your favorite girls make it to the top, purchase your tickets TODAY!

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Kids4Peace: making a life of peace and making change

July 26, 2016

(Alliance for Middle East)

In the Beit Safafa Middle School, more than two hundred families-Muslims, Christians, and Jews-met and shared Iftar together.  Orchestrated by Kids4Peace, the meal embodies the hopes of the members. USAID’s Dave Harden summed the event up perfectly with his words, “you are living a life of peace. I want you to have big, big visions.” As described by Jill Levenfeld, these children are making noise and making change throughout a broad community.

Jerusalem co-director Rebecca Sullum poignantly describes her experiences with Kids4Peace, which now spans more than a decade. She began as an individual who could not name a Muslim holiday, and now witnesses interfaith meals as hopeful symbols of peace.

Beginning in late July, over two hundred Israeli, Palestinian, and American students student will meet for summer camps in cities ranging from Boston to Washington, DC, to Galilee.

Lastly, congratulations must be extended to Jesse Raben, Rokas Beresniovas, and Kevin Rachlin for their recent selections as members of Kids4Peace’s International Board of Directors. Read more.

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