Absa eyes SMEs in strategy overhaul

Absa eyes SMEs in strategy overhaul

Absa Bank Kenya, formerly Barclays, is set to cast its net wider to the expansive MSME sector as the lender overhauls its strategy following the rounding off of its rebrand exercise.

The listed lender whose trading ticker at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) changed to reflect changes in name is set to roll out new products and services targeted at the sector in the coming months in its quest to become a full-fledged financial provider.

“For me, it’s about placing the customer at the centre of what we are doing. We have three million salaried people versus over 10 million entrepreneurs running businesses and creating jobs,” said Absa Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori.

In its short run to transition, the lender has already developed micro-business focused products including the expansion of its Wezesha SME proposition to accommodate unsecured loans of up to Ksh.10 million, local purchase order (LPO) financing & invoice discounting and the development of the bank’s first mobile application Timiza.

New investments in the bank’s pipeline include the launch of a business cash-flow management tool and the upgrading of Absa mobile banking application to impact better service delivery.

Absa Kenya is set to find anchoring for its new strategy from its new management headquartered in South Africa with Group Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mminele inspiring the lender’s leaders to make bold decisions for the now independent African institution.

“Over time and in history, Kenya has proven to be one of the critical markets for us in terms of contribution and we would want to support the transformation to ensure it continues playing an important role for the Group,” he said.

Jeremy Awori expects the bank to continue anchoring down value for invested shareholders through prudent investment and cost management initiatives.

“We’ve been able to deliver consistently while growing our top line and controlling our cost base and impairments,” he said.

The overhaul in Absa’s strategy heeds to calls by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on the importance of transformation for the over century old lender.

“It is critical that ABSA Kenya rises to these challenges with a sense of responsibility that encompasses its 104 years heritage,” the regulator said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Established in 1916 as Barclays Kenya, the lender became Absa on February 10 this year in a full circle transformation which was prompted by the rescinding of Barclays (UK) majority shareholding in Barclays Africa PLC in 2016.

Absa’s footprint in the country encompasses a 86 branches and 212 ATMS in 38 counties.