CEO Today - Africa Awards 2023

Malawi | 21 Corporates; through understanding the different needs that they may have. In the context of Malawi, how are you addressing financial inclusion, particularly in rural areas where access to banking services may be limited? Entry into the unbanked areas presented a big challenge since vast non-urban regions in Malawi often lack the legacy infrastructure to enable fast deployment of financial products and services, which makes the cost of entering these remote areas prohibitive. This forced us to innovate and deploy a new banking model called agency banking under the brand name “Bank Pafupi”, the first of its kind in Malawi. Through this agency model, we quickly extended our footprint in the country without difficulties. With this model, the Bank goes in partnership with agents, especially business owners of various sizes, who carry out transactions on its behalf, including the opening of accounts. The customers can easily identify the agents in their rural communities and the agents use mobile technology to carry out the transactions quickly and easily. The Bank has thus managed to penetrate all corners of Malawi. The Bank has also managed to offer its services beyond the brick-andmortar banking hours since opening and closing times are determined by the agents’ shops operating hours. In addition to achieving financial inclusion, Bank Pafupi has also shortened the distance potential customers and even those that were already banked have to travel to access financial services, both in urban and rural areas. The recruitment of agents is, therefore deliberately targeted at serving customers within their own neighborhoods. To date, Bank Pafupi has broken the barriers to financial inclusion and is changing the livelihoods of people in all corners of Malawi. Bank Pafupi has managed to reach areas that are highly inaccessible, especially to banks, and customers are now accessing formal financial services in a more convenient manner. The Bank’s presence through this model has expanded tremendously, closing the year 2022 with over 2000 agents. Secondly, we have invested substantially in our digital banking platforms through direct interfaces with the Bank as well as integration with key suppliers and 3rd party organizations. These innovations have not only eased transactability but have also made payments easier for both our customers and non-customers. An example would be the ability to channel National Identification card and Road Traffic Services payments through NBS Bank channels. Both are nationally accessed services. What are some major transformations NBS Bank has undergone during your tenure? When I joined NBS Bank in 2017, the Bank implemented its five-year strategic plan as a genesis to turning around the organization. The focus was on refreshing our systems and processes and ensuring that the team has the means, ability and tools to excel in the market. In this exercise, NBS Bank roped in a technical partner, Rabobank of the Netherlands, to benefit from their extensive banking experience. The Bank managed to re-capitalize through the support of shareholders and through their belief in the Bank, a successful IPO was executed. Extra capital was raised through a rights issue, and the additional capital has strengthened the Bank toward becoming a leader in the banking industry in Malawi. Prior to the recapitalization exercise, the Bank was faced with the challenge of inadequate capital, which incapacitated it from taking up opportunities and making necessary investments to catch up with the rapid changes in the banking environment, therefore, losing relevance to the customer, which had a negative effect on some major income lines. Additionally, NBS Bank was in an unfavorable position brought about by high levels of non-performing loans and inefficiencies in its technical and operational environments. These factors, among others, hindered the Bank’s growth and progression. Loss of revenue in such income streams impacted the Bank’s bottom line and led to a loss that was declared of about K8 billion. The Bank made significant strides on the transformational journey and has continued to show resilience and improved performance year on year. The heart of our strategy was to enrich our customers’ experience by providing convenient, innovative, and affordable products and services. Also critical to the transformation was constituting the right team. The Bank offered voluntary exits to those that

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