, KIGALI, Feb 20 – Equity Bank Group has moved to further enhance its East African presence with the official opening of seven branches in Rwanda as part of its corporate expansion strategy.
Equity Bank has expanded its regional footprint with an ambitious strategy to facilitate the Rwandese government’s bid to ensure that 80 percent of its population is banked by the year 2020 while inculcating a savings culture.
To support its Rwanda foray, Equity Bank Group Managing Director James Mwangi disclosed that the bank has invested more than US$ 12million in the Rwanda setup. The Bank has also already moved to align its operational and growth plans along the Rwanda government’s Vision 2020 development strategy.
“We exist to transform the lives and livelihoods of our people socially and economically and we have moved to Rwanda with a clear mission to avail modern, inclusive financial services,” Mwangi said.
“We have made a conscious decision to invest in Rwanda and will seek opportunities to partner with the government in playing our role of deepening financial access and broadening financial inclusion.”
Speaking during the official opening ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda’s Finance and Economic Planning Minister John Rwangobwa noted that Equity Bank’s entry will help boost the government’s efforts to ensure banking services penetration across all market segments.
While noting that Rwanda has been enjoying sustained economic growth, Rwangobwa expressed the government’s interest to shore up banking services in the urban and rural areas.
“Despite the challenging international and regional economic environment, Rwanda managed to sustain dynamic economic activities in 2011, recording high performance in all sectors,” Rwangobwa said.
“Real GDP growth is estimated at 8.8 percent higher than 7.0 percent initially projected and 7.5 percent achieved in 2010.”
Having started off operations in October last year with three operational branches, Equity Bank Rwanda has 7 branches on stream with plans for a further 3 branches openings before the end of the year now underway.
Over the period, Equity Bank Rwanda has managed to attract more than Rwf 5.2billion in customer deposits and Rwf 1billion already advanced out as loans and advances and banking over 30,000 customers.
This year, Equity Bank is also set to introduce agency banking services in Rwanda with an initial target of 200 agents to serve its growing clientele.
With its official entry, Mwangi further disclosed that Equity Bank Rwanda will seek to play a key role in Rwanda’s industrial development plans by extending finance products to the country’s SME and Industrial sector players.
To support the Rwanda Governments commitment to promote agricultural growth by five percent annually while replacing subsistence farming with commercial agriculture by the year 2020, Equity Bank has pledged to develop tailor made products for the country’s agriculture sector value chain stakeholders.
“We are at an advanced stage developing products and services geared at addressing the needs of the farming communities thus enhancing food security and increasing household incomes while creating employment for the rural subsistence farmers,” Mwangi said.
“To support the youth and women, Equity Bank will also seek partnerships to provide financial education and entrepreneurship training as part of its Social investment programs.”
Equity Bank Rwanda is also set to play a key role in improving electricity access by availing financing options to SMEs investing in power generation and to the rural population to assist in electricity connection.