Barclays bank officially opened its new head office at the central business district (CBD) in Gaborone on Thursday, in a lavish event at which the bank was also showered with commendations by Bank of Botswana (BoB) Governor, Linah Mohohlo.
Presenting welcome remarks at the event, Barclays Managing Director, Reinette van der Merwe said the new building was a major milestone and a continuation of its journey to be the “Go-To” bank in Botswana.
“Our new building will be the perfect place to develop innovative solutions for our customers,” she said.
Van der Merwe revealed that Barclays has invested heavily in infrastructural development by giving all its branches a new look and feel and deploying intelligent ATM’s with enhanced capabilities.
“We are committed to banking the unbanked and we continue to develop innovative products and services that benefit previously unbanked populations, in line with government’s efforts to make financial services accessible to rural communities,” she said.
She added that Barclays has partnered with various stakeholders to provide employability, enterprise skills and financial literacy to disadvantaged youth.
For her part, BoB Governor Linah Mohohlo, who was the key note speaker, said the new building should stimulate productivity by re-engineering the way Barclays does business. She commended Barclays for contributing to the development of the financial sector and national economy during its 65 year journey ever since its establishment in Botswana in 1950. She said Barclays has the largest footprint in Botswana, with 43 branches, 115 ATMs, and 1┬á300 employees.
“Put together, this extensive infrastructure, combined with the high quality of human resources, provides a full suite of commercial banking products,” she said.
She also commended Barclays for being one of the few financial institutions that are listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), saying such a move contributes to development of the domestic capital market and allows Batswana to own a sizeable portion of the bank and its global operations.
“The modest sacrifice of sharing ownership of the bank with its original UK owners pales in comparison with the benefits of diversifying sources of funding, as is the practice world-wide. Share offers on the domestic stock exchange also signal long-term business commitment of a bank to a country, for the mutual benefit of shareholders and bank customers,” said Mohohlo.
The Governor also hailed the merger between Barclays and ABSA, saying the “one bank in Africa” strategy has availed opportunities for Batswana to work in various markets outside the country. In Botswana, said Mohohlo, Barclays has a good track record of corporate social responsibility projects like the Mogae Scholarship scheme, Rhino Conservation project, Moshaneng housing project and “Madi Majwana”.