By Amos Mburu
Cooperative Bank has unveiled a Customer Networking Forum that will enable the firm build the capacity of its customers countrywide as part of a strategy to grow their businesses in changing operating environments.
These forums are part of the Ksh15.2 billion programs that the bank, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), launched in mid-2018 to provide affordable financing and business training to Kenyan MSMEs.
Speaking Director Retail & Business Banking at Cooperative Bank, Arthur Muchangi said that Customer Networking Forums are a key part of Co-op Bank’s MSME program as it is widely acknowledged that MSMEs need the insights and training on economic matters.
“In partnership with IFC, the Bank expended a lot of resources on customer engagements and research work to understand the dynamics of this critical business segment. We now know for a fact that MSMEs are the bedrock of wealth creation in Kenya as they account for over 90 percent of Kenya’s private sector, employing over 15 million Kenyans in both the 1.7 million registered and 7 million unregistered businesses,” commented the Director Retail & Business Banking at Cooperative Bank, Arthur Muchangi.
He said the forums will be held across the country, and feature a detailed presentation by the bank economist on the opportunities in and out of the country that MSMEs can tap.
“Our message to MSMEs is simple; we have heard you. We have made available a substantial kitty of Ksh15.2 Billion for a package of loans that include an unsecured business loan, a first of its kind in Kenya, E-Credit through our MCo-op Cash App where businesses are able to borrow up to Ksh2 million via their mobile phone, packaged insurance cover which are handpicked and specifically negotiated to suit various segments under MSME, revised and pre-approved limits on overdrafts and loans. The loans will be supported by trade services that include Letters of Credit, guarantees, supply chain financing, among others,” he commented.
Speaking on the key learning from his entrepreneurship journey, Edward Kariuki, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Raerex Group of Companies mentioned, “As an entrepreneur ensure you have proper structures, quality and packaging of your product is crucial, think differently from your competitors, have a good relationship with your partners and suppliers and lastly keep your word and be very honest.”
To effectively engage this target, the bank has trained its staff at the branches to identify the different needs customers have and correctly match them to relevant financial solutions. The vision for the Bank’s MSME offering is to grow world-class entrepreneurs beyond the Kenyan borders.