Category Archives: SME solutions

Simple Nairobi stock trades with EFG Hermes One

Background: Kenya’s top stockbroker, EFG Hermes has set out to expand from its institutional investors and also target retail customers. They launched their EFG Hermes One app in July 2021 allowing Kenyan investors to purchase shares on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) anytime on their mobile phones.

First Impressions: To get started, one had to go through the Kenyan regulatory requirements of KYC (know your customer). While the process is extensive for investors, with a lot of forms, ID, address and other details, new clients can scan and email documents, including photos to EFG Hermes.

Once you’re done, download the app and log-in with the credential to start trading. One fund an investor using mobile money (M-Pesa pay bill) and selects their share account (CDS) to get credited.  

For any issues, there are quick responses via email from EFG Hermes Kenya client services on issues like registration and trades. 

How It Works: Investors can view equities, and their portfolios with up-to-date prices, and also see their cash balances. They can place trades, set the prices and the expiry dates and see the commission/fee calculation before executing any buy or sell trades.

One useful feature of the app is that it allows trading of “odd lots”. This is something not available at many brokers who still only allow  investors to buy or sell shares in multiples of a hundred (100) shares – yet many investors end up with odd lots as a result of selling other shares in ’00s or getting bonus issues.

another odd feature from the stockbroking industry is T+3 days/ again this is somewhat standard and after you sell shares, it will take about two days for funds to reach your account after that one indicated at the account opening where the funds will be sent. 

For now, the Kenya app only allows trades of equities on the NSE, but in future may have more issues – bonds, derivatives, REIT’s, ETF’s regional and international products from EFG Hermes in different markets and assets classes and also as the NSE comes up with more products for retail investors such as day-trading and short-selling.

Verdict: It enables investors to trade from anywhere securely and tracks their trades and portfolios with up to date prices. The app is really small, just 10 MB, and does not use a lot of data to run. Many retail investors have other apps, laptops and sources to analyze what trades to make, and they can turn to the One app which can also be used to place trades after hours to execute when the NSE opens.

At the end of the month, investors get emailed a statement by EFG Hermes of trades during the month. This is a useful record to keep and they should cross-check with the one that comes from the CDSC.  

The EFG Hermes One app is available in the Google Android and Apple App stores.

Safaricom launches M-Pesa super-App

Safaricom has formally re-launched the next phase of the M-Pesa app as a rich financial management tool that does not depend on a single network or data to operate.

The M-Pesa service, which now has 30 million users, has been redesigned to allow biometric (face/fingerprint) authorization of transactions as an option to entering a PIN. Users can also load up different transactions, amounts and recipients and approve them all as a single bulk payment. It also allows emojis and images of counter-parties and there is also a “request money” feature.

During Covid-19, Safaricom saw an initial dip in the numbers of business using M-pesa, formally and informally, but a new business app, coupled with online applications for the business till numbers, saw them double the number of business customers from the beginning of the pandemic. Some key new features are that users will be able to add “reasons/notes” to payments, generate visualizations of transactions with individuals and download statements, which are all important to cash flow and fund management.

The app can work in offline mode, does not use data, Also M-Pesa has taken the WeChat route with mini-apps as Safaricom seeks to establish a play store for Kenya. It has fourty mini-apps are in development and seven are now live. One is the Kenya Railways Madaraka Express train service between Nairobi and Mombasa, and booking a ticket on the app gives back 10% to the buyer’s wallet. New users also get 500 MB for each download from the Android or Apple stores.

In the future, there are plans to have the M-Pesa app be accessible for lifestyle and business purposes in any African country. Users will also be able to store their credit card details to fund their wallet, enabling remittance and payment transactions.

Absa Kenya launches Asset Management

Absa Bank Kenya has rolled out an asset management subsidiary following approval from Kenyan regulators to expand its century-old business of offering financial services in the country. 

Following approval by both the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), Absa Asset Management will offer advice and products for customers to invest in listed shares, treasury bonds, corporate bonds, private equity, property, offshore and other investment classes.

Anthony Mwithiga, the CEO of the new Absa Asset Management unit, said they would offer fund and investment management for institutions, such as pension schemes, retail solutions for the mass market, and bespoke or personalized services for high-net-worth individuals.

The retail solution will offer investment opportunities through five different unit trusts being, a money market fund for Kenya shillings or US dollars, a bond one, a balanced fund, and an equities fund that people can subscribe to for as little as Kshs 1,000. All the classes will benefit from the data-driven insights, investment professional advice and risk management of Absa that is guided by three pillars of value growth, income generation and value preservation.

The CEO of the RBA Nzomo Mutuku said that that investment management, now with Kshs 1.4 trillion of assets under management, still has great potential to grow and that the performance of these investments is what drives pension benefits in Kenya, not pension contributions.

He said that being diverse had sustained growth even during Covid-19. While there has been a decline in interest for corporate bonds, private equity has gone up (from 0.07% to 0.12% as a share of portfolios) and good returns had also been got from ETF‘s that are about to get a boost from a new class for fixed income, and REIT‘s from new tax laws. He added that, when the shilling depreciates, offshore investments deliver good performance. Another new class is now infrastructure in which funds can invest 10% of assets and they are waiting to see which Public-private-partnership (PPP) projects come online.

Equity Bank’s War Chest

Equity Bank has been on a tear, signing deals with other banks for affordable lines of credit for on-lending. The latest ones are with the African Development Bank and FMO.

The recent financing agreements include:

In 2020:

  • September 2020: $50 million (Kshs 5.5 Billion) loan facility with the IFC.
  • October 2020: $100 Million from Proparco (Agence Française de Développement Group) to enable Kenya MSMEs, women entrepreneurs who had been particularly affected by the economic shock of the COVID-19 crisis to create jobs. It is expected to impact 240 MSMEs firms which will create over 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.

In 2021:

  • March 4: EUR 125 million (Kshs 16.5 Billion) loan facility signed with the European Investment Bank. The long-term loan will support Equity customer to sustain and scale their operations, with Kshs 6.5 billion to agriculture and Kshs 10 billion to MSMEs.
  • March 10: $100 Million (Kshs 11 Billion) facility with DEG of Germany, CDC Group of the United Kingdom, and FMO of the Netherlands to support MSMEs cope with COVID-19 over three years.
  • March 15: USD 75 Million (Kshs 8.25 Billion) loan facility with the African Guaranty Fund to lend to women-owned and managed micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.
  • March 23: $10 billion (Kshs 11 billion) from the African Development Bank to support its expansion into Central Africa. The  tier-two facility with a 7-year maturity is also to support lending to women and youth entrepreneurs access capital to recover and thrive in a post-COVID environment.
  • March 25: $50 million (KShs 5.5 billion) NASIRA loan portfolio guarantee from Netherlands FMO, covering loans provided to MSMEs affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including women and young entrepreneurs and companies in the agri-value chain.

Stanbic Kenya to pay dividends after Corona-hit year

Stanbic Kenya bucked the expected trend that banks will by dividend-shy after a year of the Covid-19 and became the first bank to announce their full-year 2020 results, and with an unexpected dividend for shareholders.

During the year, the bank, part of the largest financial group in Africa, set out to support the resilience of their customers, staff and the community. 60% of staff now work from home, and 80% of transactions are done on mobile phones. For customers, they extended moratoriums on Kshs 40 billion of loans, that benefited 7,200 customers, and that included Kshs 3.1 billion to SME’s. They also waived charges on digital transactions and paid out 400 retrenchment insurance policy claims. While the banking industry repayment moratoriums that were set in March 2020 lapsed this month, management, led by Kenya Chief Executive, Charles Mudiwa, said that 80% of Stanbic’s customers had reorganized themselves and resumed repaying their loans by December 2020.

Also, the second half of the year was one of recovery of growth and overall, they managed to grow deposits by 12% to Kshs 217 billion and loans by 4% to Kshs 158 billion, while reducing their cost to income ratio, from 56% to 52%.

Stanbic Kenya’s profit after tax was Kshs 5.2 billion, down 19% from the previous year, but the pre-provision profit was up 2%. The bank will pay shareholders Kshs 3.8 per share for a total payout of Kshs 1.5 billion. This is equivalent to 29% of their earnings, and the bank’s management said that, with its strong capital and liquidity, they should also support Stanbic Kenya’s shareholders. They retain a positive outlook for 2021 even as Covid-19 continues, amid the ongoing distribution of vaccines worldwide.