Equity Bank, which has a commercial representative office in Ethiopia, won the best Regional bank in East Africa and the Africa Socially Responsible Bank of the Year awards.
The Bank scooped-up the African Banker Awards 2020 emerging as the best regional bank in East Africa, as it demonstrated high performance across various qualitative and quantitative metrics.
According to the African Banker judging panel, Equity excelled in terms of reaching out to new customers, offering new services, adopting inclusiveness by reaching out to the unbanked, adopting new technologies and for its contribution to a stronger financial sector across the region.
Speaking during a virtual award ceremony, Equity Group Managing Director and CEO, James Mwangi (PhD) expressed his pleasure in Equity’s win and appreciated the recognition given to it in the six East and Central African countries it operates in.
The Bank won the African Socially Responsible Bank of the year award for concrete examples of projects and initiatives within institutions that have had a sustainable impact on communities they are geared towards.
The group, through its subsidiary – Equity Group Foundation, identified seven thematic areas to focus on; these include: Education & Leadership Development, Food & Agriculture, Health Enterprise Development & Financial Education, Social Protection, Energy & Environment, and Innovation. The foundation has so far mobilized over USD 447 million to support these initiatives.
Suraphel Wube, Deputy Commercial Representative of Equity, told The Reporter that the Bank mainly gives attention to the Extension Banking system which benefits those who do not have access to banks.
According to Suraphel, during its short time in Ethiopia, Equity has been working on Alternative Channel Banking systems with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia while trade and finance, providing correspondent facilities and remittance make up its collaboration with other Ethiopian Banks.
Ethiopia’s legal framework shields the growing banking sector by locking out foreign banks from its market forcing international lenders enter the economy through representative offices.
However, foreign investors have been buoyed by the current administration’s broad economic reforms. Accordingly, Ethiopia has allowed some foreign banks like Equity to open liaison offices in Addis Ababa to facilitate credit to companies from their countries of origin.
The African Banker Award is a continental award recognizing reforms, rapid modernization, consolidation, integration and expansion of Africa’s banking and financial system.
This is the second time in a row for Equity to win the Africa Socially Responsible Bank of the Year award.
The Kenyan Equity Group has an asset base of USD 9.3 billion with over 14.2 million customers. The group is one of the biggest banks by customer base in the region, with a footprint of 335 branches, 52,742 agents and 35,386 merchants, and 720 ATMs.
By Elias Tegegn