Barclays Bank increases its focus on SMEs


Barclays Bank of Kenya aims to become the market leader in its core segments in the next few years.
Managing Director Jeremy Awori said on Friday the lender would ramp up its businesses while redoubling its focus on SMEs, women, youth and innovation to cement is foothold in the Kenyan market. He was speaking when the lender celebrated 100 years of existence in Kenya.

“As we celebrate our 100th birthday, we recognise that we are at a critical point in our Kenyan journey. We have therefore identified this as the most opportune time for us to go a step further towards making the difference that we desire to see in order to make Barclays Kenya a go-to bank because we believe in the potential of the people of this great nation,” Mr Awori said.

Singling out the lender’s SME-focused banking products, Mr Awori said Barclays had made available Sh30 billion loans for the segment in the last two years. The bank launched SME banking in 2014.

“We have a 48-hour loan approval turn-around time and universal bankers which in essence means that our staff are now empowered to serve both retail and business customers. We also rolled out a single point of contact for our SME customers and reviewed our lending cap upwards,” he said.

Innovative products

He said the lender would firm up its Kenya business through innovative products. “We take the view that ours is shared growth, when Kenya prospers we prosper. So have no doubt that Barclays’ commitment to Kenya is real and we are therefore here to stay,” said Mr Awori.

Barclays Bank of Kenya Chairman Francis Okomo-Okello said the lender which was established in 1916, has in the last 100 years played a “significant role in the development of Kenya’s financial and economic landscapes.”

He singled out Barclays for being the first bank to promote an African to the position of the Branch manager with the appointment of Mr Peter Nyakiamo immediately after Kenya attained self-rule.

“In 1972, we became the first bank to promote a woman to the position of supervisor with the appointment of Agatha Obare. Five years later, in 1977, Barclays promoted Mary Okello making her the first African woman to become a branch manager,” he recalled.

Central Bank governor Patrick Njoroge who attended the celebrations called on financial institutions to embrace innovation and market discipline to ensure success in their operations.

“A single rogue trader can bring down a 100-year-old financial institution…a customer has to be dealt with as if they are the only customer in the world,” said Dr Njoroge