NAIROBI, 13TH OCTOBER 2020: Equity, with a balance sheet size worth Kshs. 673.7 billion at the end of 2019, has been listed at number 7 among the top 10 Banks in Africa in 2020 with a score of 5.82 in the overall category of the best performing banks.
This is according to The Banker’s Top 100 African Banks ranking for 2020. This year’s ranking shows stabilisation in the finances of the majority of African major lenders. The ranking, which tracks the health and wealth of the African banking sector, saw the Bank ranked based on an array of metrics including the overall growth performance, financial soundness, profits on capital, leverage and return on risk.
In the year under review, Equity improved on its performance with a 14% profit after tax growth to Kshs 22.6 billion from Kshs 19.8 billion in 2018. The impressive performance registered during an interest capping period was driven by a 23% growth in loan book to Kshs 366.4 billion from Kshs 297.2 billion in 2018.
The enhanced efficiency and cost optimization saw its cost-income ratio improving to 51% from 52.4% in 2018. Equity maintained its yield on interest-earning assets at 11.2% despite the challenge of interest capping and declining yield curve. Innovation has also proved to be a great enabler in driving growth and Equity is already registering efficiency gains from digitization.
On financial soundness, Equity ranked number 5 on the backdrop of an agile balance sheet with a liquidity of 52.1%, a loan deposit ratio of 75.9% and a core capital to risk-weighted asset ratio of 19.8%. The balance sheet reflects solid diversified funding with customer deposits constituting 72% of the total funding, shareholders and long-term borrowing contributing 17% and 8% respectively. The financial soundness is further enhanced by s a strong capital base, which is well within both internal and regulatory limits, solid business performance and Net loans which constituted 54% of the total assets while government securities and cash and cash equivalents contributed 26% and 13% of the total asset allocation respectively.
The ranking is an indication that Equity remains robust, despite the challenging operating environment. The Bank has already developed and adopted a sustainable business model to cushion the business as well as boost value creation for shareholders.
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.
Equity was ranked number 7 in the top 10 overall category and number 9 on growth performance
KCB Bank Kenya has donated 1 million reusable face masks to support the reopening of learning institutions which kicked off today. The initiative seeks to facilitate protecting learners and school administrators from
contracting Covid-19 as well as reducing the risk of spreading of the disease.
This follows a call by the government for a phased re-opening of schools after a seven-month break in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The masks will be distributed to needy students from schools across the country.
“We are catalyzing the reopening of the institutions to ensure a seamless process as well as guarantee the sustainability of the resumption of studies, noting that the virus is still here with us,” said KCB Group CEO and MD Joshua Oigara while presenting some of the masks to the Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha at Olympic Primary School, Kibra, Nairobi on Monday morning.
“This is one of the all-round initiatives which we have rolled out, including a financial support mechanism to boost schools operations. This will enable both public and private schools to access loan facilities towards complying with health guidelines set by the ministries for Education and Health,” he added.
Further to the donation of masks, KCB has announced a commercial commitment to aid the rapid reopening of public and private schools with a wide variety of financial support solutions including loans of up to KShs.250 million among other products to ease school reopening pressures.
Prof Magoha said: “We would like to applaud KCB for offering both financial and non- financial support to institutions as they get ready to effectively reopen while at the same time ensuring the safety of the stakeholders and we will keenly observe the partial reopening for the three classes before making a determination to reopen all schools. The donation made by KCB will go a long way to ensure the safety of our students as they go back to school.”
The Bank has restructured loans and overdrafts worth more than KShs. 1billion for the learning institutions since the pandemic struck and the institutions will continue enjoying repayment holidays as they resume operations.
The Bank has supported the education sector through various initiatives and will continue working with over 23,000 learning centres to deliver a seamless experience in education financing.
KISUMU, 9TH OCTOBER 2020: Regional low-cost carrier Jambojet has commenced direct flights from Mombasa to Kisumu and Eldoret.
The inaugural flight started last week on Friday with an introductory fare of Kes. 8,900 one way.
Speaking during the official launch at the Kisumu International Airport, Jambojet Acting Managing Director, Karanja Ndegwa, noted that the direct flights between Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret will be key in connecting business people and holiday makers who wish to fly between the three destinations with ease and convenience.
He added that the direct flight will have a capacity of 73 passengers out of Mombasa and a full capacity out of Kisumu and Eldoret routes.
“The direct flights will be an integral part of boosting the economy and tourism sector in our county,” said Mrs. Dorothy Nyong’o, First Lady, Kisumu County.
The airline will operate the two routes every Friday and Sunday, with the Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret flight departing from Mombasa at 13.15 to arrive in Kisumu at 15.55. The flight will depart from Kisumu at 16.15 to arrive in Mombasa at 18.05.
After putting in place a raft of safety and health measures, Jambojet restarted operations on 15th July, 2020 and currently flies to all its local destinations namely Malindi, Ukunda, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret from its hub in Nairobi.
The airline has also partnered with various players in the travel industry and launched an ongoing campaign dubbed “Now Travel Ready” to encourage domestic travel as the Country begins its COVID-19 recovery process.
Customers can book their tickets through all existing distribution channels including the website (www.jambojet.com), Progressive Web App, sales offices, call centre and travel agents.
Caroline Atieno, a 58-year-old walked to her bank one July afternoon last year to withdraw money for her next clinic appointment and was met with shock – all the money she had was gone!
“There was only fifty-six shillings and twenty-eight cents left in my account. I had more than Sh. 240,000 in that account before. It was money my children living abroad sent me for monthly upkeep and my medical bills,” she says smiling. Perhaps amused by her gullibility.
Atieno is both diabetic and hypertensive. She is on life-long medication for both conditions which she says cost her about Sh. 30,000 every month. She regularly receives money from her two children living abroad to cater for her medical expenses and living costs. She kept the money in a bank, believing that it was the safest place her money could be.
She says she remembers one evening someone calling her claiming that they were from the bank and that they were doing maintenance to their mobile banking system.
“He was sounding very professional and spoke good English, did not seem like a con to me. I had my phone with me and was confident that there was no way someone else would withdraw my money while I had my phone in my own hands at home. The bank at times called, as such, nothing sounded off. They even called back to assure me that the issue was sorted,” she says still smiling.
About three days after the phone call, Atieno’s phone went dead. It could not detect her mobile service providers network. When she went to the customer care shop, she was told her phone had been reported lost and her sim card swapped. She thought it must have just been a small error. She produced her original identification documents and had her sim card replaced.
“I could not still relate the swapping of my sim card to the call about the mobile banking service earlier in the week. It was until the day of my clinic visit that I realized that I had been locked out of my mobile banking service. When I visited the bank, I realized the two incidents were related, and that’s how I lost the money. I reported the incident with the police as advised but there has been little progress so far,” she explains.
The Finaccess 2019 Household Survey jointly authored by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and British financial inclusion lobby group Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya says 220,000 bank account holders who account for 3% of bank users in Kenya have reported losing their money from their accounts this year.
In being proactive to the banking fraud challenges, Equity is attempting to lead the way by introducing one phone number that the bank will be using going forward to make outgoing calls to customers that has been dubbed “ONE EQUITY NUMBER.”
“All Equity staff, whether it is your branch manager, relationship manager, account opening officer, credit or loan officer, insurance officer, agriculture officer, procurement manager, investment advisor, shares buying or selling etc, they will ALL call you using ONE NUMBER; 0763 000 000,” says a statement from the bank.
The absence of one easily identifiable number that financial institutions and mobile money providers use to communicate with their customers is a loophole that fraudsters have exploited to gain crucial information about customers. Regrettably, this has in some cases been facilitated by unscrupulous employees of these companies.
It is also crucial that these institutions carry out customer education, making sure that they understand what information they can disclose to banks’ agents and what information is supposed to be personal. In this era of digital banking, personal information in the wrong hands can help fraudsters clear your bank account or your mobile wallet.
A study by Marryane Wamuyu published by the United States International University titled; “Fraud in the banking industry in Kenya; A case of Commercial Bank of Africa, Kenya” found that cash theft, use of forged documents, cards fraud, letters of credit fraud and impersonation were the other common forms of fraud in Kenya’s banking industry.
Rosemary Njeri says her dad lost about Sh. 3 million from a bank in Kisumu through impersonation.
“My old man was working in South Sudan as a country director for a well known NGO. He was banking with one of the local commercial banks in Kisumu and that’s where his salary was credited in dollars. It was not an account he would utilize often as he mostly saved that money for his investment projects. He would come home every three months or so. He was also well known to the staff at the bank. This one time he comes back home and goes to withdraw money as usual. He was shocked to find a huge chunk of money missing – about an equivalent Sh 3 million but in dollars,” explains Njeri.
A review of the photo of the person who made the withdrawal as captured on the bank’s CCTV and that of Njeri’s father revealed that there was not even a close resemblance. The bank employees who authorized the transaction clearly ignored the basic KYC protocols.
Incidents such as these two, which are in no way isolated paint to a growing picture of banking fraud which if left unchecked can erode the confidence customers have in financial institutions. While banks like Equity are continuously innovating to curb this trend, there is need for a multisectoral approach in dealing with the vice that involves both the industry players and regulators. It’s a problem that should not be left alone to individual banks to figure out how to curb. This is not to say that banks do not have a role to play at their individual capacity to safeguard their customers’ deposits.
The study by Maryanne Wamuyu quoted earlier identifies the “use of ICT tools such as passwords and firewalls, strengthening of internal controls and systems, encouragement, communication, rewards and recognition of employees, performance management, improvement in hiring systems and policies, use of expected and unexpected audits and use of analytical tools,” as some of the ways banks can help protect their customers’ deposits.
NAIROBI, 2ND OCTOBER 2020: Equity Group Holdings has announced a new partnership with Proparco, a French Development Finance Institution, which will allow the Kenyan bank to grow and continue its support to the private sector and its deep commitment to MSMEs, women entrepreneurs and development of rural areas through dedicated products. MSMEs have been particularly affected by the economic shock of the COVID-19 crisis and the collaboration speaks to Equity’s firm commitment to help the private sector to quickly recover and to thrive after the pandemic is over. The agreement was signed in Paris on the sidelines of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s high-level trade delegation to France by Dr. James Mwangi and witnessed by Agence Française de Développement Group’s (AFD) CEO, Remy Rioux.
In making the announcement, Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc. stated that, “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic started as a health crisis, which quickly became an economic crisis and humanitarian crisis that has seen almost 40% of Kenyan small business owners affected by the Great economic shutdown in business. Equity’s goal is to keep the lights of the economy on to support lives and livelihoods and as the economy begins to open up, our partnership with Proparco will help us to support quick recovery of their businesses and most importantly their growth out of the crisis.”
Proparco is a French Development finance institution which is a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) together forming the AFD Group, devoted to private sector financing and engaged in promoting sustainable development for 40 years. The organization works in 80 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, providing funding and assistance to businesses and financial institutions.
Today’s announcement will further support Equity’s dedication to remaining Kenya’s leader in MSME’s financing and its ambition to better support underserved segments, in particular small scale farmers, micro small and medium enterprises, contributing to the “Big 4” developmental agenda: manufacturing, affordable housing, health and food security. In total, the project is expected to support about 240 MSMEs and more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Commenting on the agreement, AFD Group’s CEO Remy Rioux said: “AFD Group is delighted to work once again with Equity Bank, whose dedication to SMEs in Kenya make it an important partner of the French initiative Choose Africa. This operation illustrates that AFD, through its subsidiary Proparco, is more than ever committed to empowering Kenyan entrepreneurs confronted with the challenges raised by the Covid-19 crisis while pursuing its fight against climate change in Africa by specifically dedicating $20 million of the $100 million loan to financing projects with climate co-benefits.”
The project will also see Equity Group support the French initiative Choose Africa, which is working to dedicate €2.5 billion to start-ups and MSMEs in Africa by 2022. This will also help AFD Group in its commitment to a clean climate and the Paris Agreement since USD 20 million of the USD 100 million loan will be dedicated to financing projects with climate finance.
This is Equity’s second edition of its partnership with Proparco of the current USD 22.8 million loan granted in 2019 as part of a broader financing of USD 100m arranged by Proparco and released today in partnership with Germany’s Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG).
“I am most gratified by Proparco’s trust in and support of Equity Group, our customers and our stakeholders during this critical time in our society. With Proparco and AFD’s willingness to work with us in such a substantial and significant arrangement, Kenyans can be reassured that their businesses and our economy will be strengthened and supported so that we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger and better. Given Equity’s purpose-driven mission, Proparco is a natural like-minded partner who will help us to expand opportunities and grow prosperity for Kenyans and the continent as we seek to build back better after COVID-19,” said Dr. Mwangi.
NAIROBI, 22ND SEPTEMBER 2020: Regional low-cost carrier Jambojet has partnered with various players in the travel industry to launch a campaign that will encourage domestic travel.
The campaign dubbed “Now Travel Ready” is part of the airline strategy to encourage air travel as the country begins its COVID-19 recovery process.
“With the launch of this campaign, we want to show our customers the new normal of travel. From the moment they leave their home, to when they get to the airport, arrive at their destination, the hotels they can stay at and the measures in place, as well as the activities they can take part in,” said Jambojet Head of Sales & Marketing, Titus Oboogi.
Jambojet has partnered with hotels in the 5 destinations they fly to including Swahili Beach Resort and Diani Sea Lodge in Diani; Ciala Resort, Grand Royal Swiss Hotel and Sovereign Hotel in Kisumu; Voyager Beach Resort, Pride Inn Hotels and Hotel Englishpoint in Mombasa; Turtle Bay Beach Club, Plan Hotel Resorts, Ocean Beach Resort & Spa and Luxury Springs Villas in Malindi & Watamu; The Noble Hotel and Naiberi Resort in Eldoret.
Jambojet resumed operations to five local destinations in July after the Government of Kenya lifted the ban of movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Mandera counties.
Last week, the airline announced entry into charter operations to address emerging consumer needs and diversify its product offering.