World Bank hosts global launch of a book featuring Equity Bank as a case study for best practice in Africa
The global book launch of ‘Developing Africa’s Financial Services – The Importance of High-Impact Entrepreneurship’ recently took place at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Equity Bank, which is featured in the book as one of the best practice case studies was represented by the group’s director of strategy, Mrs Mary Wamae. Speaking during a panel discussion at the ceremony, she discussed the bank in the context of the financial sector in sub-Saharan Africa. “When Equity started, only 4 percent of the population had bank accounts. There was a lot of ‘mattress banking’. Equity had to devise a strategy to compete with ‘mattress banking’ by challenging old banking norms in order to remove roadblocks to financial inclusion,” Mrs. Wamae said.
She also noted that the bank’s model has evolved over time. “Equity started with brick and mortar approach, opening branches in all regions including the remote areas, but could never be close enough to people. The bigger question was how to get closer to the people. This led to the introduction of the agency banking model. Now the banker is the shopkeeper next to them, and going to a bank has become much less intimidating,” she said.
“We are seeing very interesting dynamics developing out of mobile banking driven by the needs of the young population in our markets. We are making banking part of their lifestyle by giving them the choice and control over their financial needs so that they can free up their time. We are transforming the bank from ‘a place you go’ to ‘an activity that you do.’ Our vision is to be the social economic champion for the people in Africa, through financial intermediation. We are empowering people, which is exactly what society needs us to do,” she added.
The other panelists were Augusto Baptista from Banco, Millennium Atlantico of Angola and António Correia from BancoÚnico of Mozambique.
The book’s editor, Dana Redford, Ph.D., President of the Policy Experimentation &
Evaluation Platform (PEEP) presented it, while Nuno Mota Pinto alternate director at the World Bank Group, presented the overall theme. Dr. Dana observed: “It is amazing to work with Africans because of their can-do-attitude. The book strives to look at new models for development to better understand Africa-based solutions. And these stories show that Africa can be an inspiration to the world.” In the same breath, Pinto noted: “Equity Bank is a powerful example – these are challenging times, and banking in Africa is an exciting sector, which this book captures.”