Equity Bank has been feted as SME Bank of the Year – Africa, at the prestigious IFC Global SME Finance Awards, taking the platinum award at a ceremony held in Madrid, Spain. The award is endorsed by the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI)
The Global SME Finance Awards recognises outstanding achievements of financial institutions and fintech companies in delivering exceptional products and services to their SME clients. The award targets institutions that have successfully launched innovative products or services for SME clients, achieved remarkable results in providing finance to SMEs or been an innovator in digital financial services.
The winners were selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants and were vetted by a panel of judges representing financial institutions, investors, fintech companies, and development banks. The judges looked at parameters such as the number of MSMEs financed and volume of financing, original ideas and cutting-edge innovation, the performance and impact of projects/products/services, and flexibility to changes and progressive opportunities.
Speaking during the award ceremony, SME Finance Forum CEO Matthew Gamser congratulated all the winners of the inaugural Global SME Finance Awards.
“These awards celebrate the best-in-class financial institutions and fintech’s that have achieved remarkable results in their SME product or service offerings. Our winners are diverse, but they all share a strong commitment to helping small businesses in their markets with their dedication and innovative practices. The winners are an inspiration to us and their peers,” he said.
The SME Bank of the Year – Africa award validates Equity Bank’s commitment to be the champion of MSME banking through provision of flexible and integrated banking services to MSMEs. Equity Bank’s core business and service offering is geared toward MSMEs, which command 69.8% of its total loan book and 76.7% of its total deposits.
While receiving the award, Equity Bank SME Banking General Manager Jeremy Kamau said the Bank is a pacesetter in several banking trends that have supported MSMEs including digital innovation.
“Equity Bank has revolutionized banking by breaking barriers of geography time and space. We leveraged the power of technology with the objective of self-disruption and virtualization to change the bank from ‘where you go’ to ‘what you do’. This revolution has created sustainability of financial access and placed the power of banking in the hands of the customers, giving them freedom, choice and control,” he said.
Equity Bank has invested heavily in digital channels for MSMEs, offering solutions such as EazzyBiz, EazzyNet, and EazzyApp. Equity Bank also offers the full range of trade finance and treasury instruments to SMEs. With over 36,000 bank agents in rural, urban, pastoral and marginalized areas across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, DR Congo; the Bank’s shared prosperity model has deepened financial inclusion for ordinary people.
For women entrepreneurs, Equity Bank offers Fanikisha services, which help empower women economically. Since 2007, over USD 363 million has been disbursed to 338,000 women in form of loans while 39,070 entrepreneurs have been trained in partnership with Norfund, International Labour Organisation, Mastercard Foundation and the Lundin Foundation.
For micro-entrepreneurs, Equity Group Foundation in partnership with Mastercard Foundation launched the Financial Knowledge for Africa (FiKA) programme in 2010. Through FiKA, the bank has so far trained over 1.7 million women and youth in financial literacy and money management skills, receiving loans totalling to Ksh 69.7 billion (US$ 680 million). The Bank has helped 600,000 subsistence farmers transform into agribusiness or small-scale commercial farmers through training.
Equity Group Managing Director and CEO Dr James Mwangi said the Bank was honoured to be acknowledged for its role in creating high impact enterprises and deepening financial inclusion in the Africa.
“Having started as a small business over 34 years ago, we acutely understand the hurdles MSMEs face and have developed solutions to challenges such as lack of access to capital and markets, and lack of business management knowledge and skills,” he said.