Equity Bank has been named Africa’s best bank for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the 2021 Euromoney awards.
According to Equity Group Managing Director and CEO, Dr James Mwangi, the award reinforces and cements the Bank’s vision, of championing the socio-economic prosperity of the people of Africa.
Equity Bank has been supporting SMEs at the height of the pandemic
“With support from various partners, Equity Group has strongly positioned itself to support SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to keep their lights on during the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic which slowed down the economy and negatively impacted the cashflows of enterprises,” said Dr Mwangi.
Despite the heavy impact of the pandemic, Equity increased its lending to SMEs, which by the close of 2020 stood at 54% of its total loan book.
Despite the heavy impact of Covid-19 on SMEs, Equity Bank has continued to support its clients, growing lending by 30% to $4.8 billion in 2020.
Lately, Equity Bank’s SME lending has focused on unsecured working capital financing, with a specific focus on supply chain financing in agriculture, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer foods and healthcare.
It has also continued to access credit-risk guarantees as well as senior and subordinated funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and development finance institutions in Europe – arrangements specifically designed for SMEs, including female entrepreneurs and agricultural value chains.
With a key focus on priority areas aligned to achieving Kenya’s Big 4 agenda, Equity put a priority on financing SMEs in Agriculture, Manufacturing, Household and value-chain banking and health sector.
MSMEs often face a host of growth challenges including managing and enabling financial transactions, access to credit and expanding their reach.
To solve some of these challenges, Equity has fortified its product offerings by providing Macro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises with customized, flexible, and integrated banking solutions.
Equity has innovated a structured approach by deliberately supporting to transition enterprises from Micro, Small and Medium entities all the way to large corporates by offering a tailored Customer Value Proposition (CVP) for enterprises and by aligning staff and delivery channels for each segment.
The strategy put into consideration different factors including but not limited to the number of employees, loan size, total assets, and total annual revenue.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, Equity bank accommodated loans up to Ksh 171 billion, giving customers reprieve and flexibility to adjust their business models.
The lender offers Working capital, Term Loans, Overdrafts, Asset and Equipment Financing Mortgages, Project finance among others.
To facilitate trade internationally and locally, Equity Bank offers a wide range of trade finance products such as Letters of Credit, Guarantees, Post Import Finance, Avalisation, and Commodity Finance.
Other awards won by Equity Bank
Equity Bank has in the past also received accolades as the ‘Best Bank in Africa for SMEs’- by the IFC SME Finance Forum for 3 consecutive years since 2018; ‘Best Bank in SME banking for two years running’ -Think Business Awards, and the ‘Best Bank in Retail, CSR and Digital Service’- Banker Africa, East Africa Awards 2017.
Equity provides banking services to more than 800,000 SMEs through its 190 countrywide branch network in Kenya and on its digital channels.
The Euromoney Awards for Excellence were established in 1992 and was the first of its kind in the global banking industry.
2021 Euromoney awards received entries from close to 100 countries
This year, Euromoney received almost 1,000 submissions from banks in their regional and country awards Programme that covers more than 50 regional awards and Best Bank awards in close to 100 countries.
Last year, Equity received 3 Euromoney awards in the Best Bank in Africa, Best Digital Bank and Excellence in Leadership award categories.
Equity Group Holdings Plc is a Pan-African financial services holding company listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Uganda Securities Exchange, and Rwanda Stock Exchange.
The Group has banking subsidiaries in Kenya, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and a Commercial Representative Office in Ethiopia.
It has other subsidiaries in investment banking, insurance, telecom, fintech and social impact investments.
Equity Group has a balance sheet size of KSh 1.12 trillion, a market capitalization of US$ 2 billion and a customer base of over 15 million customers.
The Group has a footprint of 337 branches, 56,772 Agents, 32,269 Merchants, 697 ATMs and extensive adoption of digital banking channels.
The Banker Top 1000 World Banks 2020 ranked Equity Bank 754 overall in its global ranking, 62nd in soundness (Capital Assets to Assets ratio), 55th in terms of Profits on Capital and 20th on Return on Assets.
The Banker’s Top 100 African Banks 2020 placed the Bank in position 7 overall among the top 10 Banks in Africa, 5th place on soundness, position 9 on growth performance, 8th on return on risk and position 6th in terms of profitability and on leverage category.
In the same year, Moody’s gave the Bank a global rating of B2 with a negative outlook same as the sovereign rating of the Kenyan government due to the Bank’s strong brand recognition, solid liquidity buffers and resilient funding profile, established domestic franchise and extensive adoption of digital and alternative distribution channels.