Equity banks IFC award over financing women

Equity Bank Kenya associate director of business banking Jeremy Kamau receives the platinum award for Best Financier for Women Entrepreneurs from National Bank of Cambodia Governor Chea Chatwo. Looking on are IFC’s SME Finance Forum CEO Matthew Gamser (right) and Equity Group Foundation associate director of energy and environment Eric Naivasha. PHOTO | POOL

Equity Group has won a platinum award for Best Financier for Women Entrepreneurs as vetted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Global SME Finance Awards.

In the awards ceremony organised by IFC and held in Cambodia, the judging panel highlighted Equity’s business finance growth and noted it was higher than average for women-led small firms while risk metrics were about half the average.

“This year has seen the largest field of applicants ever, as we expand to a fifth award category in the important area of greening SME financing. We have more countries, with more financial products and approaches than ever before,” said the chief executive of the SME Finance Forum Matthew Gamser.

The Kenyan-based lender, which has a presence in East and Central Africa, recently banked on innovations to provide tailored financial solutions that meet the needs of women and those of their businesses.

Through the bank’s Fanikisha programme, which was launched in 2007, for instance, women can access low-cost loans from as little as Sh1,000 and this has accelerated their involvement in business and investment. To date, the lender says, a total of Sh339.2 billion has been disbursed to women impacting 8.3 million of them.

The bank also runs free financial literacy and entrepreneurship training where it says 2.4 million women and youth have benefited.

“The recognition by the IFC and the Global SME Finance Awards is timely and is truly humbling. Equity Group remains committed in its efforts to champion the building back better post the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Equity Group Managing Director James Mwangi.

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