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World Bank-backed book cites Equity as banking role model

Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi with Policy Experimentation and Evaluation Platform president Dana Redford (right) and Ernst & Young East Africa CEO Gitahi Gachahi (left) at the launch of the book on January 8, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi with Policy Experimentation and Evaluation Platform president Dana Redford (right) and Ernst & Young East Africa CEO Gitahi Gachahi (left) at the launch of the book on January 8, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA  

A US-based business and public policy expert has lauded Equity Bank’s #ticker:EQTY business model for easing access to formal financial services among low-income earners.

Prof Dana Redford, the author of a book titled Developing Africa’s Financial Services – The Importance of High-Impact Entrepreneurship, has featured Equity Bank as one of the best case studies in Africa for driving financial inclusion and wealth creation.

In the book, which is sponsored by the World Bank, Prof Redford notes that Equity Bank has been challenging the traditional banking norms, removing roadblocks to financial inclusion.

The bank’s business model has evolved from brick and mortar approach where it opened branches in all regions including remote areas and is currently focusing more on agency banking and mobile-based platforms.

“The cases presented in the book of high-impact entrepreneurship in the financial sector such as the stories of Banco Unico in Mozambique, Fidelity in Ghana, Banco Atlantico in Angola, and Equity Bank in Kenya shows us the opportunities that vibrant African societies present for risk takers,” said Prof Redford during launch of the book in Nairobi on Monday.

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The lender also wins praise for offering letters of credit to local entrepreneurs, undertaking to pay exporters or sellers on their behalf, and offering other trade relevant financial products such as pre-shipment and post-import financing.

The bank also trains entrepreneurs to hone their business skills. So far, the lender has trained and mentored more than 1.6 million entrepreneurs including women and youth.

“The success of Equity in this undertaking directly benefits society at large, underscoring the role of human capital and culture in building high-impact entrepreneurial ventures that overcome challenges and positively impact millions of people,” said Prof Redford.

He says Equity’s financial inclusion model is further enhanced through Equitel, the bank’s mobile virtual network.

Equitel enables customers to send and receive money, pay bills, save and purchase airtime for Equitel and other networks.

As at last March, official data shows that Equitel’s share of retail payments had grown nearly tenfold to hit 30.13 per cent of the value of mobile commerce compared to 3.7 per cent market share in December 2015.

Equity group chief executive James Mwangi said the lender has created more than 300,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, equating it to nearly half of Kenya’s civil service.

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