SBM BANK KENYA
A customer interacting with a banking brand knows all too well that the reason they select a bank is not merely its size, but more so about the personal relationship they will build with this brand. They understand this more intimately than the banker because this is the entity that will fund their first car, ensure that their children’s school fees are secured and that they can own a home or keep their business afloat; the relationship is personal and lasts a lifetime if done correctly.
It is for this reason, 50 years ago in 1973, on an island in the South East of the African continent, SBM Bank Group (formerly State Bank of Mauritius) was established with ambitions to create a lifetime of personal relationships with its customers. Its sole aim to date is to give its customers across the globe, access to create a smarter tomorrow.
Since its maiden journey in 1973, the Group set sail across the Indian Ocean to establish a brand that is listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius with operations in Madagascar, India and Kenya. The Group has a stable asset base of over 8 billion dollars and personal relationships with millions of customers across the globe. The Group brand has innovated products in wealth management, non-financial banking services and partnerships with fintech companies. Notably, in India, SBM Bank is the first foreign bank to receive a universal banking licence as a wholly owned subsidiary.
Closer to home, SBM Bank Kenya marks five years since it opened its doors to the Kenyan market. The bank entered the market by way of acquisition and has since developed strong partnerships with niche corporates, High Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs), Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and individuals, as part of its ecosystem banking model.
A typical engagement at the bank looks like this: SBM Bank Kenya has provided a loan to a sustainable business to provide access to clean, reliable and affordable energy to nearly half a million people through off-grid solar home systems in Kenya. This transaction strikes all the right chords for people and the planet, and is in line with the 7th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG #7), Affordable and Clean Energy.
The bank is supported by an intricate ecosystem of MSMEs who are distributors responsible for installing and ensuring the off-grid solar home systems reach all corners of the country. SBM Bank Kenya goes further to equip these distributors with financing tools like invoice discounting
or overdrafts, to ensure that the bank and its products reach the end user. Last but not least, there is a customer at the end of this value chain with access to seamless platforms both online or on their mobile to pay for the solar systems. With the click of a button, the corporate starts the transaction which impacts the MSMEs that serve the business, the employees within its fold and the customers it serves. This ecosystem is the definition of powering a ‘smarter tomorrow’, accurately corresponding to SDG #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.
However, the transaction does not stop at the societal impact only. The employees of this bank have personal dreams and aspirations. Thus, SBM Bank Kenya goes further to provide them with access to loans to invest in their future.
Across the continent in India, SBM Bank India partners with over 40 fintech companies to provide banking as a service. This allows a fintech company the opportunity to provide bank-powered services such as a payment card to its customers across the globe which they can use in any outlet globally. Such digital forward thinking taps into the aspirations of the future where a bank is not a place to go to, but something we do daily. This is the SBM Bank relationship banking model that is powered by technology but has service at the heart of its agenda.
The SBM Brand promise, anchored by its tagline For a Smarter Tomorrow, is backed by a commitment to be change-makers in the markets it serves. As a household name in Mauritius, the bank has led the innovation trail in the financial services sector and is consistently ranked among the Top 1,000 World Banks by The Banker Magazine, a publication of the Financial Times and has improved its position to 42nd in the Top 200 Banks in Africa by The Africa Report 2020.
SBM Group has entrenched its brand as a catalyst for empowering women, in accordance with SDG #5, Gender Equality and Women Empowerment. The Group has a program called ‘WeMove’, a play on the words ‘Women’ and ‘Move’ that champions women in all spheres of life. It heralds the successes of women at home, work and in society by giving them access to education, empowerment and protection through advisory services, investment, insurance and wealth management.
The origins of this program started in Kenya through the SBM Bank Kenya Women Market Program, it was later adopted by the global brand to demonstrate the inclusive nature of the brand across markets. In Kenya, the Bank is a UN Women Empowerment Principles (WEPS) signatory (a global set of standards established by the UN Global Compact and UN Women). To date, the bank has trained over 5000 women-owned businesses in collaboration with various partners and has been feted with various awards and recognitions in the women’s markets space.
The bank has espoused the commitment to support sustainable businesses and has placed a strategic focus on financing, supporting and partnering with sustainable businesses for the long term. Last year, SBM Bank Kenya had two notable deals in this space. The first, a Sh 1.6 billion (USD 15 million) mid-term financing facility to support finance and access to affordable solar home systems and a risk-sharing agreement with the African Guarantee Fund (AGF) amounting to USD 10,000,000, to increase its financing of MSMEs. The latter with preferential rates for sustainable ‘Green’ businesses and women-led enterprises to access credit on favourable terms, mitigating the challenges they experience in scaling up their businesses and increasing their contribution to wealth creation and job opportunities. SBM Bank is determined to play a part in transforming this sector by opening up markets for green businesses, accelerating wealth creation and improving the quality of life.
A brand is its people, because they create the experience that is shared between the brand and the customer. The awards that the bank has been feted with all have faces, dreams, aspirations and the devotion of the teams that work tirelessly to deliver on the brand promise – For a Smarter Tomorrow.
The most notable awards received are Best Bank in Women Banking Kenya 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, Best SME Bank in Kenya 2022, and Citibank 2020 Performance Excellence Award, awarded by Citi Treasury & Trade Solutions in 2022. The bank also scooped the Best Gender Equality Index in Diversity and Inclusion Kenya 2022, Best Bank, Sustainability Award 2022.
The future of banking involves innovating ways to make a consumer’s daily life easier. SBM Bank is bridging the innovation gap by leveraging product offerings and services that are successful in other markets locally. The collaborative model between fintechs and banks in India has opened avenues for millions of customers to access financial services. Kenya and the region is the next frontier. The bank is excited about the immense opportunities such collaborations present to Kenyan techpreneurs and the youth.
It is predicted that the industries that will produce the next set of billionaires are renewable energy, artificial intelligence, robotic services, high-speed transportation and disruptive financial services to name a few. In the markets that SBM Bank serves, they are thinking ahead on how to partner with innovative thinkers to build Kenya and as a result the entire continent. As the bank is building a Smarter Tomorrow, the Kenya market is key to unlocking the brand’s potential.