CARITAS MICROFINANCE BANK FIRMS UP FOR GROWTH

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After one and a half years of operation, Caritas MFB is ranked number five out of thirteen

By Caroline Mwendwa

Caritas microfinance bank is one of the thirteen microfinance banks ( MFBs) in the country, registered by the Central Bank of Kenya and licensed to operate nationwide. It is owned by the Catholic Church.
It acquired the license on 12th June 2015 and was officially launched by His Eminence John Cardinal Njue on 20 th April 2017 in a colorful ceremony held at Holy Family Basilica.
Speaking during the launch, Cardinal Njue said : “ Today marks the culmination of a journey that began more than three decades ago when a need was identified of empowering the faithful economically, especially vulnerable families within our parishes. This need led to the first self-help group being established in 1983 in Kiriko Parish in Gatundu with the main objective of promoting self-reliance amongst the members. The concept later spread to the other parishes within the Archdiocese of Nairobi.”
The idea of starting the microfinance bank was mooted with an aim of accommodating the emerging needs of members of these self-help groups, which were beyond the groups’ capacity.
One and a half years down the line, the micro-lender has morphed into a highly performing microfinance bank. It is ranked position five out of the thirteen licensed MFBs.
Currently, the archdiocese boasts of over 200 self-help groups spread across various parishes within the Nairobi and Kiambu counties with about 100,000 members operating both current and saving accounts.Caritas MFB, has two branches in Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Innovative banking
Caritas Microfinance Bank believes in the power of technology to promote affordable, convenient and accessible financial products and services. To this end, it is looking to grow market share through alternative banking channels and agency banking.Most of its customers conduct their transactions via mobile phone reinforcing the growing importance of the technology in service provision.
“Our strategic goal is to have 80 per cent of all transactions on alternative banking channels over the long term,” said Caritas CEO, George Maina, during the launch.
Caritas has also embarked on agency banking to increase its footprint. Currently, 16 agents have already received licensing from CBK. By the end of the year, the bank is planning to have recruited 50 agents.
With close to Kshs. 400 million in deposits and having disbursed over Kshs. 250 million in loans, Kenya’s 12th micro lender is keen on addressing financial needs of the micro and small enterprises. A special focus will be on enterprises owned by women, youth and self-help groups.
Speaking during the same occasion, Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor Sheila M’Mbijiwe lauded Caritas microfinance bank’s efforts in addressing the financial needs of the micro and small enterprises (MSEs), specifically women, youth and self-help groups.
“Caritas microfinance bank joins the financial sector at a time when technology and banking are converging to facilitate provision of ever convenient services to consumers. I therefore urge the bank to leverage on this convergence and contribute towards the financial inclusion agenda and promote economic growth in Kenya in line with the country’s economic blue print, Vision 2030,” said M’Mbijiwe.
Caritas MFB chairman, Patrick Kinyori emphasised the bank’s commitment to serve the ‘unbanked and under-banked’sectors, which account for about 25% of Kenya’s population.
“Caritas MFB has invested in one of the latest core banking platforms in the market that will facilitate a technology driven business. We are working with strategic partners to reduce the cost of operations and to deliver value to customers,” said Mr Kinyori.
The bank has also partnered with the Cooperative Bank of Kenya for ATM and point-of-sale (POS) services, enabling its customers to have nation-wide access to their accounts. Customers can make withdrawals at all Visa branded ATMs and also purchase goods and services at all Visa branded outlets.

Future plans
Plans are at an advanced stage to rollout bancassurance services to customers as soon as the necessary approval is received from the regulating authorities.
Also, by the end of the year, the bank aspires to have a total of 5 branches. The strategic plan envisions 12 branches and 200 agency outlets by the year 2020.
The licensing of Caritas MFB reiterates the Central Bank’s commitment to the development of an all-inclusive financial system.

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