Equity Group reveals secrets behind success in continent

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Equity Bank Group has revealed the “secret” behind its successful growth as a top financial institution in Africa. The bank, which featured recently in a book “Developing Africa’s Financial Services – The Importance of High-Impact Entrepreneurship” as one of the best practice case studies, discloses that rising to the helm in Africa has not been a walk in the park.

The Group’s transformation into a rapidly growing Pan-African banking group has been an inspiration to many. Over the years, it has built a social and economic brand by providing financial services to the masses through a diversified distribution of its products and services.

Speaking yesterday during the launch of the book on ‘Africa’s Financial Sector’ in Washington, US, the Group’s Director of Strategy, Mary Wamae said the institution started its journey at a time when only four per cent of Kenyans had banks accounts.

“When Equity Bank started only four per cent of the population had bank accounts. A lot of Kenyans were just involved in the ‘mattress banking’, she said.

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The strategy the bank adopted had to compete with ‘mattress banking’ by challenging the old banking norms in order to remove roadblocks on the path of financial inclusion in the country.

Wamae said the model adopted by the bank has evolved over time, adding: “Equity started with brick and mortar approach, opening branches in all regions including the remote areas, but was still not close enough to people as it had wanted.” According to the director, the issue led to a bigger question which was how to get even closer to the people.

“This led to the introduction of the agency banking model. Now the banker is the shopkeeper next to them, and going to a bank has become much less intimidating,” she said. The group, Wamae added during the book launch, is also seeing interesting dynamics developing out of mobile banking driven by the needs of the young population.

“We are making banking part of their lifestyle by affording them the choice and control over their financial needs so that they can free up their time. We are transforming the bank from ‘a place you go’ to ‘an activity that you do,” she said

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