The outgoing Barclays Bank Botswana MD Reinette van der Merwe, is leaving her post a very satisfied boss. Van der Merwe has been the bank’s MD for the past 5 years and during her tenure, the bank has seen a steady growth both in its profits and footprint in a country where banks are fighting for a stranglehold of both territorial advantage market shares.
The MD who was speaking at the Barclays Bank of Botswana full year financial results presentation said the results that were presented were a testimony that the bank is on a steady path even in the face of transition towards parent company name which is Absa. Howver her tenure also brought out her long cherished trait of being a philanthropist and a leader who put corporate social responsibility first. She alluded to a number of initiatives that her bank has been carrying out throughout her stay in Botswana.
Speaking of the bank’s initiative towards employment creation the MD said, “Ready to Work, our on-line learning curriculum on employability and entrepreneurship, has made steady progress. Our partners, Project Concern International and Stepping Stones International made good progress working with private sector companies to place youth into internships or permanent employment. As at the end of December 2018, 216 youth had been placed in either internship or employment opportunities. An additional 519 had been trained and graduated from Ready to work.”
The bank has also been at the forefront of giving the unbanked a voice in the financial space. “Our ambition is to expand our products and services to previously unbanked populations”
Alluding to the exponential growth that her parent company Absa has been taking van der Merwe said Absa has had unexpected results. “As you may have seen from our communication in the previous weeks, the Absa Group continues to enjoy tremendous momentum in the market as it delivered another set of strong results. International economic conditions improved, though competition remained keen as banks sought to capitalise on the upturn in investor sentiment and a more positive outlook among businesses in the region”.
She said new technologies were a standard bearer at her bank and nothing would supersede that. “Barclays Bank of Botswana continued to invest in technology, service channels and our branch network, deepening existing relationships and acquiring new clients in target segments. Along with cross-selling and other revenue diversification initiatives, we have achieved a 10% rise in non-interest income and a 5% increase in income on a normalised basis.
During the 2018 financial year, our strong product development capabilities facilitated a swift response to improvement in the investment environment. Furthermore, our extensive branch network and market knowledge reinforced our position as part of a leading financial services group that Botswana can be proud of. This performance underscores that we are focused on our chosen sectors where we can have the biggest impact on the customer and that offers the greatest opportunities for our group. With “Brand leadership”, where we are putting customers first in everything that we do, now in full swing, there is no doubt that we will continue to be laser-focused when it comes to attaining our leading position in the market”.
The bank has been contributing to both the corporate and business portfolio to levels never seen before. “In the past five years we have grown the revenue contribution from the Corporate and Business Banking portfolio from 19% in 2014 to 29% in 2018 We have made significant progress in Business Banking as we delivered the customer value propositions whilst creating strategic partnerships to provide credit guarantees to the underserved small businesses that otherwise would not have been able to access some of the banking solutions that they required for their businesses to succeed.
One of our priorities was to grow our Retail Banking with a focus on secured lending. At the start of our transformation agenda, unsecured assets stood at 61.8% of the total asset book, as a December 2018, we had reduced it to 44% of the total asset book. I am pleased to say that during our transformation journey we have upgraded all 114 ATMs to intelligent ATMs, allowing customers to do cash deposits; cash send and use other functionalities. We have also invested in an intelligent, mobile ATM which enabled us to take ATM banking services to our customers at various events anywhere, anytime.”
On the education front, the bank reignited the former president’s Mogae’s education fund. “We re-launched the F.G. Mogae Scholarship program with an increased investment of 3 Million Pula, which allowed 38 Batswana to pursue their master’s degree with various universities across Botswana is gaining traction with an increasing number of individuals utilizing our mobile money platforms. Tax of 638 million pula for the year ended 31 December 2018 on a normalised basis, representing a growth of 14%, year on year.” Another first for Barclays Bank Botswana is that another woman is replacing the affable van der Merwe, Keabetswe Pheko Moshakane. Speaking on her appointment the Group Chairman said “Reinette will be leaving at the end of the month; she has been an illustrious worker. While waiting for regulatory procedure and after due process the bank has appointed Keabetswe Pheko Moshakane as the new MD. The board has no doubt that she will continue to add great value to the organisation.”