Co-operative Bank of Kenya has recently been recognized as the premier SME financier of the year in Africa by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank.
This prestigious award was bestowed on the bank at the global awards ceremony held in Mumbai, India.
The accolade acknowledges the significant contribution of the Co-operative Bank in supporting and financing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region. The awards aim to celebrate the crucial role played by banks and fintech companies in helping the MSME sector achieve their business objectives.
Expressing his delight at receiving the award, Gideon Muriuki, the Managing Director and CEO of Co-op Bank, remarked, “We are encouraged by this award as a demonstration that we have listened, studied, and built competitive solutions for SMEs to realise their goals.” This recognition reaffirms the bank’s commitment to providing tailored financial solutions to SMEs, enabling them to thrive and grow their businesses.
Earlier this year, the bank had announced that it had allocated Ksh.14 billion towards lending for small businesses across its vast network. This seven-year Tier II facility was facilitated by DEG, a Germany-headquartered development finance institution and a subsidiary of KfW Group, in collaboration with a consortium of financial institutions. This investment demonstrates the bank’s strategic vision and commitment to supporting SMEs, which form a significant portion of businesses in Kenya.
It is worth noting that SMEs make up 98 percent of all businesses in the country and are responsible for creating approximately 30 percent of new jobs annually. By providing access to finance, the Co-operative Bank is empowering SMEs to drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the overall development of Kenya.
As of the end of 2022, Co-op Bank’s long-term borrowings were valued at Ksh.48.1 billion, a notable improvement from the previous year’s figure of Ksh.42.9 billion. This increase in borrowings not only reflects the bank’s robust financial position but also showcases its commitment to expanding its lending capacity and supporting SMEs in the long run.
The prestigious award conferred upon Co-operative Bank of Kenya as the premier SME financier of the year in Africa by the IFC is a testament to the bank’s dedication to nurturing small businesses and enabling them to thrive. Through its comprehensive range of financial solutions and strategic partnerships, the bank continues to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of SMEs, fostering their contribution to the economy and society as a whole.
The funds were obtained from various sources, including the IFC (Ksh.15.6 billion), European Investment Bank East Africa (Ksh.6.9 billion), AFD Microfinance (Ksh.1.16 billion), and Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (Ksh.467.5 million). These borrowings were secured as part of an effort to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region.
The SME Finance Forum, an organisation consisting of over 250 prominent banks, non-bank financial institutions, fintechs, and development banks, established by the G20 in 2012 and managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is responsible for organising the awards. The G20’s Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) has endorsed the competition.
Matthew Gamser, CEO of the SME Finance Forum, expressed his optimism about the competition’s potential to significantly reduce the SME finance gap, stating, “This competition makes me very positive that we are on the right track.”