Despite its challenges, Kenya’s economy is growing and supports a diverse range of sectors. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a huge part in this and contribute positively to the economy – in fact, 98% of all business in the country are SMEs. Despite contributing only 3% to Kenya’s GDP, SMEs provide more than 30% of employment opportunities.
For years, our mission at Credit Bank Plc has been to provide financial solutions that deliver for Kenya. Realising the impact SMEs were having on the economy, we realigned our strategic plan to have small and growing businesses at the centre of the bank’s transformation. For the past decade, the bank has shifted its focus to serving SMEs with solutions that facilitated their growth.
Offering personalised financial solutions to entrepreneurs provided us with an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of what SMEs require to succeed. This gave us the impetus to be better at what we do and to innovate moving forward. We moved to develop a holistic approach to SMEs – an approach that provides sustainable finance to the Kenyan economy, something that we have been recently lauded for.
To arrive at a holistic approach, we undertook various research and surveys. We learnt that finding business advisory support is difficult for small businesses and that access to capital remains a challenge that impedes the growth of businesses. In addition to capital, SMEs are looking for support around marketing, compliance, talent management and strategy.
Over the years, Credit Bank’s trade finance solutions have helped SMEs gain a foothold enabling them to access financing. However, from our research it was clear that we had to move to create something more sustainable. This led to the development of eHub (short for Entrepreneurs’ Hub), a platform that seeks to confront and resolve the challenges small businesses face. At eHub, members can engage with one another, learn from industry experts and/or programmes that we have set up and ultimately grow their businesses. The platform aims to form true partnerships with SMEs and address their challenges through hands-on coaching and mentorship. Ultimately, through Credit Bank’s structures and systems, SMEs can access vital resources, including financing.
This approach is one of the ways we partner with customers to elevate and empower them financially. Our goal is to be the vanguard of economic transformation for SMEs. A transformed SME sector is one that directly impacts the strength and growth of the Kenyan economy.
The bank has further aligned itself with Kenya’s economic agenda of improving the economy through food security, increasing local manufacturing, providing universal healthcare and affordable housing solutions. To achieve impact at scale, this can only be done through partnerships. One such partnership that enables new financing capabilities is through Medical Credit Finance. This partnership is targeted towards healthcare institutions where we provide financing for the expansion of their respective practices.
Our expertise with small and growing businesses puts the bank at the apex of such partnerships. Recent recognition from The European of our efforts as the “Best SME Partner Bank” is a testament to this. At the helm of this concerted effort is our CEO, Betty Korir who was also recognised as “CEO of the Year 2019”.
“As we seek to leverage on partnerships and move the bank to greater heights, we will continue to innovate and provide relevant impactful solutions,” says Ms Korir. “We will continue to build on this strength. Globalisation further provides growth avenues for SMEs and that of our economy. We are at the forefront of creating an enabling environment for SMEs to take advantage through our Trade Finance solutions. More importantly, some of the solutions are not necessarily monetary but those that ensure international trade is done through a trusted intermediary.”
Ms Korir continues: “The future presents more opportunities as we take advantage of fintech. Our current robust technology allows for SMEs and individuals to conduct their banking from the palm of their hands. Ability to access banking services from anywhere has allowed for convenience, allowing entrepreneurs time to focus on their business. We remain committed to SMEs and further continue to research ways in which we can improve and grow their businesses. Stability is important for them and having a financial partner they can bank on is crucial.”
Ms Korir believes that Credit Bank is a friend you can bank on. And, as we know, a friendly approach develops long-lasting partnerships.