The Bank of the Year Awards celebrates the best of global banking and are regarded as the industry standard for banking excellence. The 2021 edition highlights those institutions that have taken a lead over their peers in terms of performance, strategic initiatives and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Equity Bank Rwanda was recognized for its solid commitment to the country’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) community during a challenging year for the country’s economy.
In the period under review, Equity Bank Rwanda increased its Tier 1 capital by 27% from Rwf 36.2 Billion in 2019 to Rwf 46 Billion in 2020, assets grew by 25% from Rwf 276.1 Billion in 2019 to Rwf 345.3 Billion in 2020, and net profits by 20% to a double digit of Rwf 11.1 Billion from Rwf 9.2 Billion from the previous financial year. To demonstrate a healthy portfolio, Equity’s non-performing loan ratio reduced to 3.58% compared to 3.99% in 2019.
According to The Banker, the 2021 edition of the awards set out to recognize institutions that have risen to the challenge and come through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic stronger and more resilient. Banks have reacted quickly, changed their ways of working and how they deliver services to customers.
Importantly, institutions have rethought their purpose and role in society, effectively supporting the business and financial interests of their customers when needed most.
While acknowledging the win, Equity Bank Rwanda Managing Director, Hannington Namara said, “We are greatly honoured and humbled to receive this recognition of Bank of the Year Rwanda 2021 award by The Banker. The award is a clear demonstration of a bank that remains relevant even during the trying times. A testament of operating true to our commitment to provide inclusive financial services that transform livelihoods, give dignity, and expand opportunities for wealth creation.”
The performance was mainly driven by strategic initiatives that were positively impactful to the society during the pandemic year.
The Bank established partnerships with Enterprise Partner Solutions (ESP) and Mastercard Foundation in the creation of a COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience program which committed US$2.5 million to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism and hospitality sector being one of the hardest- hit sectors.
This is in line with the business focus on being at the frontline in building the economy better and stronger. So far, the program has supported 120 SMEs in the two sectors both financially and technically at all stages of maturity, plus their value chains.
The Bank further supported SME customers affected by the COVID-19 through loan restructures and signed a $10M guarantee agreement with African Guarantee Fund to cover 50% of all SMEs exposures that were restructured including new SME loans.
This was in a bid to support the SMEs business to recover with resilience.
Plans are also in place to partner with all UN organisations in Rwanda and other partners willing to work with the Bank to support customers recover. These include partnerships to support the young people through the Young Africa works program in deal Mastercard.
To ensure seamless digital operations, and to boost its trade finance offering and in compliance with the Government’s law N° 63/2007 to stop any manual tendering, Equity got an off-the-shelf solution to automate the processes. This has shown a rise in compliance and more SMEs are using the platform. In addition, the Bank has created several trade finance products that target SME customers and retail markets.
The Bank continues to lead in digital transformation journey through innovation.
Equity Rwanda upgraded its Eazzy Suite, which include EazzyBanking App, Equity USSD *555#, EazzyNet, EazzyBiz, EazzyLoan and EazzyAPI that have delivered an unmatched increase in use over time. By end of 2020, 92% of all transactions were conducted outside brick and mortar. Leveraging off technology, local offerings are availed to a global setting through Diaspora Banking department to individuals working and living abroad.
Through EazzyNet Online, EazzyBanking App and Fintech integration with International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) who include World Remit, Ria, Transfast, Terra, Hello Paisa, Wave, Small world, Money Gram, Western Union, Home Send, Thunes, Ping express, and PayPal. These enabled Diaspora remittances to rise by 378% in 2020 from Rwf 13Billion to Rwf 62Billions while commissions grew by 330% from Rwf 162Million to Rwf 697Million in the same period.
The Bank envisages that the trends will continue to disrupt thus the strengthening of technology capabilities through increased investments in specialist human and technological resources to ensure cutting edge products and services.
The Bank of the Year Awards 2021 by the Banker, a monthly international financial affairs publication owned by The Financial Times Ltd, is a continental awarding showpiece that recognizes and acknowledges excellence in the banking sector drawn from the world’s leading financial institutions. They are judged on their ability to deliver returns, gain strategic advantage, and serve their markets. In 2020, Equity Bank’s South Sudan, DRC and Rwanda subsidiaries emerged winners in the Bank of the year category.
About Equity Bank Rwanda
Equity Bank Rwanda began its operations in 2011 and is registered as a commercial bank by the National Bank of Rwanda. The Bank has its Head Office located in Kigali, with a foot-print of 15 branches and is supported by 3173 agents, 1861 merchants and a network of 22 ATMs.
Equity Bank Rwanda is a subsidiary of Equity Group Holdings Plc, a financial services company listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Uganda Securities Exchange, and Rwanda Stock Exchange. In addition to Equity Bank Rwanda, the Group has banking subsidiaries in, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, and a Commercial Representative Office in Ethiopia. It has other subsidiaries in investment banking, insurance, telecom, fintech and social impact investments.
Equity Group is the largest bank in the region in assets of Kshs 1.2 trillion (USD 12 billion). It is also the biggest bank in deposits, market capitalization of USD 2billion and with a customer base of over 15 million customers. The Group has a footprint of 337 branches, 58,756 Agents, 34,941 Merchants, 691 ATMs and an extensive adoption of digital banking channel.
The Banker Top 1000 World Banks 2021 ranked Equity Bank 754 overall in its global ranking, 62nd in soundness (Capital Assets to Assets ratio), 55th in terms of Profits on Capital and 20th on Return on Assets. The Banker’s Top 100 African Banks 2020 placed the Bank in position 7 overall among the top 10 Banks in Africa, 5th place on soundness, position 9 on growth performance, 8th on return on risk and position 6th in terms of profitability and on leverage category.
In the same year, Moody’s gave the Bank a global rating of B2 with a negative outlook same as the sovereign rating of the Kenyan government due to the Bank’s strong brand recognition, solid liquidity buffers and resilient funding profile, established domestic franchise and extensive adoption of digital and alternative distribution channels. Equity Group Holdings Plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya.