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At Yatta today, Absa Kenya donated Kshs 4 million at the launch of a partnership between the Kitui County Government and World Vision.
Chronic food insecurity is a challenge for households and families in many parts of Kitui County and this has increased during COVID-19 which has impacted the economy as people in the area lost their jobs. Caroline Ndungu, Absa’s Marketing Director said being a force for good in society was one of the strategic pillars for the Bank which celebrated its one-year anniversary in the country last week, after completing a four-year brand transition.
Jame Agin, Absa’s Corporate Director said the Bank will seek to collaborate with the County Government of Kitui, which is a largely agricultural and pastoral region, but with perennial hunger and water problems, to finance commercially-scalable agriculture projects, as a solution to the community’s problems while deriving value for Absa’s shareholders.
The funding from Absa will be used to procure drought-resistant seedlings of green grams, sorghum and cowpeas which will be distributed by World Vision to 2,000 households in the Yatta area. This is part of a county food security enhancement program called the “Ndengu Revolution” led by Governor, Charity Ngilu, that aims to address the perennial food shortages in Kitui.
Absa Bank Kenya celebrated its one-year anniversary at its newly-redesigned Queensway Branch in downtown Nairobi today. It has been a strange first year for Absa which completed the transformation from the Barclays brand in February 2020, three weeks days before Kenya was enveloped by Covid-19 and underwent a shutdown that, while it has progressively reduced, still affected thousands of business, jobs, and customers, as well as the bank itself.
Speaking at the event, Absa Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said the bank had a great strategy to grow and expand, then Covid-19 hit and the year turned to be one of the challenges for the bank, industry, local and global economy. Absa also began to see opportunities for impact and to demonstrate its humanity and innovations to enable the bank to serve customers as they worked to rebuild their livelihoods. They adjusted to have half their staff work from home and instituted a shift arrangement for front-line workers and these enabled 100% of branches to remain open, while the digital platforms had 99% uptime.
Absa offered financial relief to help customers navigate the pandemic after many lost jobs and businesses. They restructured Kshs 62 billion worth of loan repayments, extending relief to over 59,000 customers. They also continue to lend a sizeable amount to SME’s to stay afloat and provide employment, and also committed to paying small suppliers of the bank within seven days to boost their cash flow.
He added that the bank was cautiously optimistic that 2021 will be a better year, with news of vaccines giving confidence to business and governments to relax containment measures and turn to boost economies. Absa Kenya will invest Shs 1.6 billion in 60 technology projects to enhance customer experiences. One will be to automate loan top-ups, allowing people to get loans on top of existing loans, and another will be a new online business-banking platform.
Absa Kenya Chairman Charles Muchene said the bank contributed Shs 50 million to the Kenya Covid Fund, invested Shs 30 million in initiatives led by partners, and donated 210,000 masks for medical workers, with another 20,000 to boda-boda operators. The bank is now asking Kenyans to join and to help underprivileged. They launched a “Wall of possibilities” for people to write suggestions or ideas on the bank’s social media pages or at the Queensway branch on ways that the bank can assist communities to benefit. Absa may fund each idea with up to Shs 2.5 million.
Stanbic Bank Kenya has appointed Brigid Kosgei, the world record-holder in the women’s marathon, as the brand ambassador for “It can Be”, making her the face of the campaign in the country. The bank will work with her on her passions of education and community development while also advising her on wealth management and entrepreneurship.
The 27- year-old is the two-time winner of the London and Chicago marathons. She is the current holder of the women’s marathon world record, a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes, and 4 seconds which she set at the Chicago Marathon in 2019, smashing the previous record time of Britain’s Paula Radcliffe that had stood for sixteen years, by an astounding one minute and 24 seconds.
For all the acclamation and adulation that Kenyan track athletes receive, especially during the Olympic games, this is a rare event as Kosgei is one of the few female athletes in the country to land a major partnership deal and with a top brand – Stanbic is the largest bank group in Africa. Other smaller deals in the past went to Pamela Jelimo with Milo and Edna Kiplagat with Bank of Africa.
At the announcement event for the partnership, Kosgei, who hails from Kapsait in Elgeyo Marakwet county, spoke of the hardships she has overcome from being unable to finish her schooling, missing her first flight and other steps she has stumbled on in her life’s journey. Then, when she started in marathons, with encouragement and guidance from her coach, on how she improved her times racing Porto, Milan, then Lisbon and on to Chicago. She also spoke of her training for the Tokyo Olympics that was postponed from 2020 due to Covid-19, and which she plans to be ready for, once the event dates are confirmed.
Absa Bank will plant ten million trees over the next five years with partners and stakeholders as part of a broad plan to promote sustainability and the wellbeing of Kenyans. This is the latest initiative by the bank that has identified three areas of climate action, recycling and sustainable resourcing to champion.
Jeremy Awori, the Absa Kenya Managing Director, said that while companies have historically engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR) as philanthropic ventures, these initiatives are now going through a transformation to make them more sustainable and impactful by making them a part of the core business.
Absa has tied its initiatives with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on quality education (SDG 4), economic growth (SDG 8) and responsible consumption (SDG 12). The bank has also signed on to the Sustainable Finance initiative, championed by the Kenya Bankers Association, UNEP’s Principles for Responsible Banking initiative, and has also joined the Kenya Green Building Society with a plan to be carbon neutral by 2040.
Its suppliers, 90% of who are local, are undergoing training on sustainable business and the bank plans to have them all sign up with the UN Global Compact in 2021. The bank’s enterprise supply chain development program has provided unsecured loans to small and medium enterprises and a ready to work program has trained 415,000 people.
Caroline Ndungu, the Marketing Director, said old computers and furniture at the bank are being repurposed by Computers for Schools Kenya and Fun Kidz to equip labs at 66 educational institutions with 1,000 computers. Absa is also replacing water dispensers with water purification systems and will recycle billboard branding materials from the Barclays transition into school bags. The bank will also do tree planting exercises as they hand over the labs.
Moses Muthui, the Absa Country Strategy Director, said banks should exist not to profiteer from people but to profit with people. As such, along with other covid-mitigation measures, the bank has now restructured Kshs 60 billion of loans. Absa has also enabled over half their staff to work from home while still keeping all their banking channels open to provide essential financial services to customers.
Kenya had 6% forest cover in 2009 and is estimated to lose 50,000 hectares of forest each year through deforestation. Speaking at the launch, Dr Chris Kiptoo, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment called on banks to provide innovative financial solutions to promote commercial forestry by the private sector.
The Absa Sustainability Commitment report is available on the bank website.
The fifth Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) Charity Day held today spotlighted the prevention and management of cancer in Kenya. All the day’s equities trading fees will be donated to the National Cancer Institute of Kenya, a body that has been mandated to coordinate all cancer management activity including research and the setting up a national cancer registry.
NSE Vice Chairman Bob Karina said that previous Charity Day’s had been staged with different themes and raised over Kshs 30 million to support identified worthy causes. The NSE supported wildlife conservation in 2015, the environment in 2016, and girl-child protection in 2017, while last year they supported education endeavours. The NSE Company Secretary Kuria Waithaka mentioned organizations that have received support from previous “charity days” included SOS Children’s Home, Joy Children’s Home, Save the Elephants and the Borana Ranch Conservancy – where the NSE had adopted and named a rhino “Hisa,” which is Swahili for ‘shares.’
Barclays Kenya’s Head of Markets, Anthony Kirui said that the Barclays which had been a partner of the NSE Charity Day for the last three years was in the final stage of its brand transition to Absa. The new identity was being rolled out with a strategy to put customers at the front and some of the tailor-made services the bank now has include unsecured credit for small & medium enterprises (SME’s) of up to Kshs 10 million (~$100,000), and LPO financing of up to Kshs 50 million, while mortgages can be 100% financed.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Sicily Kariuki said that the country recorded 48,000 new detections of cancer and 33,000 deaths every year and that everyone knows someone who has been affected or has fundraised towards someone’s cancer treatment.
She added that while the Government was investing in interventions in the cancer fight and to reduce the cancer burden through new radiotherapy and cancer centres, 80% of the fight was within people’s control; she asked that people mind their lifestyles, meals, physical activity, environments & communities, and go for early screenings.
Celebrity participants at the trading day included Sheila Mwanyigha, Terryanne Chebet Suzie Wokabi, Nameless, Patricia Kihoro, Pinky Ghelani and June Gachui, among others, placed NSE client trades online and over phones working alongside real stockbrokers. The day saw 13.27 million shares traded worth Kshs 528.6 million with top activities being around Safaricom and Equity Bank.