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Absa Bank Kenya pledges more support for SMEs

  • Absa bank commits over Ksh1.6 billion into digital products and solutions to improve efficiency and offer a differentiated customer experience.
  • In the last year, the bank instituted loan reliefs amounting to Ksh62 billion enabling approximately 59,000 small businesses to navigate the challenging period of Covid-19.
  • The bank has pledged more support for SME businesses who were hard hit by the pandemic as well as women-owned businesses.

Absa Bank Kenya Plc. today celebrated its one-year anniversary in the Kenyan market with a commitment to significantly invest towards transforming customer experience.

The bank announced that it plans to invest over Kes1.6 billion in technology to enhance service delivery.  

Speaking at a media briefing at the bank’s Queensway branch in Nairobi, Absa Managing Director Jeremy Awori noted that delivering a differentiated customer experience remains at the core of the bank’s Growth, Transformation, and Returns strategy.

“In the next year, we will be rolling out over 60 different technology projects, all aimed at transforming our customer experience. Some of these include automation of our loan top-up process, a first-in-the market move which will enable our customers to apply and get top-ups on their existing loans within 15 minutes, and at the touch of a button. We will also be rolling out a fully-fledged online Business Banking platform in the coming weeks among other exciting innovations across our business segments,” said Mr. Awori.  

The bank embarked on a brand transition four years ago and set out to fully transform the business into a truly customer-obsessed organisation; one that puts the customer at the centre of all decisions, propositions and initiatives. In order to get it right, the financial services provider engaged customers across its different segments to better understand, not just their needs but also tastes and preferences further making commitments to fulfil these needs.

“In many ways, Covid-19 really challenged us to live up to our commitments to all our stakeholders. The pandemic has taught businesses across the world that we must really be prepared to live and operate in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous environment, and be agile enough to quickly adapt to changing realities. Today, I can say confidently that we lived up to our commitments to our various stakeholders”, said Mr. Awori.  

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Last year, the bank instituted different financial relief initiatives across its different customer segments to help customers navigate through the effects of the pandemic. This initiatives included loan relief and restructures valued at over Kes62 billion which is equivalent to a third of the lender’s credit portfolio, covering over 59,000 accounts. For SME customers, the bank offered specific capacity building programmes to equip them with the necessary skills to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic. By proactively managing its business continuity processes, a 100% of the bank’s branches remained open and fully operational while digital platforms had a 99.8% uptime, even with numerous scheduled system upgrades.

Despite the challenges in the macro-economic environment as a result of the pandemic, the bank continued to lend to various customers with a sizeable portion of this amount going to SME business. An additional Kes50 million was committed to various force for good community-based initiatives in support of the fight against the pandemic.

Against all odds, Absa grew its business by introducing new propositions in its product portfolio. The bank introduced the first-in-market Absa vertical debit and credit cards as well as revamped its SME Wezesha Biashara proposition to play a bigger role in the SME sector. This proposition offers unsecured loans of up to Kes10 million which is the highest in the market, as well as LPO financing and invoice discounting of up to Kes50 million amongst other benefits.

“As we celebrate our one-year anniversary, we recognize that the pandemic continues to threaten the survival of small and medium businesses which are major sources of employment and account for about 40% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As a business we are committed to supporting women in business particularly those in the SME sector, with a campaign that we hope to run across the entire Sub Saharan Africa,” Mr. Awori said.

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The bank also introduced a new account dubbed Absa One, an all-in-one account with no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees. This account also offers unsecured loans of up to Kes6 million for individuals, Kes10 million for businesses, 0.5% cashback rewards on all ATM and debit card transactions and a multicurrency prepaid card with up to 8 major currencies.

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On his part, Absa Chairman Charles Machine thanked customers, stakeholders, employees and the public for walking with Absa through the rebranding journey, posting an optimistic outlook for the coming year. “I am optimistic about the future, our business is well capitalised and I am confident that we are well-positioned to surmount the challenges presented by the pandemic. We have been through many economic cycles in our 104 -year history and we are positive about an improved performance this year,” said Muchene.

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