By the year 2030, Kenya hopes to become a globally competitive and prosperous nation through strengthening of its manufacturing sector, among other strategic initiatives.
The government intends to achieve this through several ways including supporting development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
SMEs can be described as engines of growth as they play a vital role in a country’s economic prosperity by contributing heavily to wealth and employment creation.
However, these enterprises face a myriad of challenges, which threaten to disrupt or eliminate their existence.
The challenges include lack of adequate management training, lack of financing, limited access to credit facilities and poor cash flow management.
In an era where lending to such SMEs was considered risky, Equity disrupted the market by offering innovative financial products and services that spoke to the needs of both individuals and businesses.
Through Equity, SMEs enjoy access to financial advisory services, access to financing through flexible, cost-friendly credit facilities and access to markets through networking and relationship building with other SMEs within and outside Equity’s ecosystem.
In 2019, the bank trained a total of 45,725 SMEs intending to create collective prosperity and social impact in the lives of communities.
This training equips the entrepreneurs with the right knowledge and skills to identify business opportunities and to grow their ideas into successful ventures.
In Nairobi’s Industrial Area, Equity has two branches that serve the region that has hosted some of the largest manufacturing companies in the country.
The branches are a one-stop shop for numerous financial services for individual, retail and business clients. Enterprise Road and Kenpipe Branches are strategically located to serve the area.
Businesses and retail clients visiting these premises, have access to a full range of banking services ranging from personal and business loans, savings accounts and cash management solutions, among others.
The area is also a host to agency and ATM outlets which bring services closer to the enterprises where they can transact and make payments at their convenience.
As businesses continue to innovate and expand their portfolios, they are constantly demanding for tailor made solutions to fit their diverse and complex financial needs.
Today, large, medium and small enterprises are increasingly automating and diversifying their operations globally. This move has led banks to invest in innovation.
Through EazzyBiz, Equity’s robust and secure online banking platform for businesses, which was launched a few years ago, customers can make payments, track their collections and receivables and manage their cash flows and balances across multiple currencies.
This ensures an instant and unified view of the accounts, making financial decision and reporting much easier.
Through Equity’s EazzyFX, SMEs benefit from buying and selling of currency digitally, eliminating the need of having them to visit branches for the service.
They also enjoy competitive rates and are not limited by geographical or time constraints.
Additionally, Directors and owners of these enterprises are issued with premium cards from VISA, Mastercard, Discover, Union Pay, American Express and other card processing networks depending on their preferences.
The premium cards offer attractive benefits including credit, giving businesses the opportunity to grow. They are also accepted globally, making business travel convenient and enjoyable.
With the premium cards, customers access unparalleled services that cover travel such as global emergency assistance, concierge services and free unlimited airport lounge access; exclusive lifestyles and privileges.
Customers can also redeem points for a diverse set of rewards such as discounted flights, hotels and insurance covers.
The increased efficiency in how banking services are rendered has seen SMEs grow as they now have proper financial records management, easy access to physical bank branches and digital banking services but most of all, they have been empowered with the right tools and knowledge to see their businesses grow.
This investment by banks in both traditional and digital products and services for the greater good of their customers, maps out a hopeful future for SMEs operating within Nairobi’s Industrial Area.
With the shifts in the banking landscape, today’s customer yearns for a bank that can offer financial services that support their growth.
In 2019, Equity was recognised globally by joining the SME Finance Forum, a global network managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) comprising financial institutions, tech firms and development finance institutions.
The bank was also named SME Bank of the Year – Africa for the second year in a row at the prestigious IFC Global SME Finance Awards, taking the platinum award at a ceremony held in Madrid, Spain.
The awards recognize outstanding achievements of financial institutions and FinTech companies in delivering exceptional products and services to their SME clients.
Locally, Equity was awarded as the best bank in Kenya at the Think Business Awards in 2019.