The newly launched commercial bank in Gaborone, The Capital Bank, said this week that it would give due
consideration to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Speaking at the official launch of the bank, Hitesh Anadkat, its chairman, said they are awake to the reality that they cannot immediately be in a position to service large corporate entities.
“In the short term, we hope to serve the SME sector better than any bank. Over time, we will also develop the infrastructure to target the low end retail sector.”
Anadkat said the bank, which originates in Malawi, has a successful history of dealing with the SME sector.
Apart from the SME sector, he said the other category that would be their main target is the middle and upper income personal accounts.
“I know there may be some people out there who are gleefully rubbing their hands with anticipation and thinking that ‘no other bank will lend me money because of my track record, here is my chance’. Well, I am afraid we will disappoint such people,” he warned.
He said in as much as they intend to be aggressive in efforts to grow the bank, what will underpin their business model is their underlying principle of being conservative and prudent.
“Our primary priority is to safeguard the interests of our depositors. We can only do this by being prudent,”
he explained, adding that they are not in a hurry to make money.
The Governor of the Central Bank, Linah Mohohlo, said one of the reasons they gave Capital Bank the nod to operate in the country is that the parent bank has a proven track record and strength when it comes to financing SMEs.
“As you know, SMEs play a major role in contributing to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.
Therefore, access to credit is crucial for their survival,” she said.
Mohohlo said the anticipation is that Capital Bank will leverage on the experience and infrastructure of the parent bank in servicing the SMEs market in the country, “and in so doing, contribute to sustainable economic growth and job creation”.
Capital Bank is promoted by First Merchant Bank of Malawi with 51% shareholding and the remaining 49% is for citizens and resident investors.
First Merchant Bank first entered the banking shores in June 1995 in Malawi. At the time, it was the first private sector commercial bank to be granted a banking license. The bank has since grown in leaps and bounds, employing 460 people and opening 14 branches across the country.
In Botswana, Capital Bank is estimating to have an initial staff complement of 35 people, of whom 30 would be citizens.
The bank is also expected open a branch in Francistown towards the end of this year and increase its staff as well.