Monday 27th February 2017
GBA recently welcomed our first member in Zambia, Stanbic Bank. The bank is part of Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest bank by assets. In this interview, Mwansa Mutati, Head Business Banking, spoke with the Global Banking Alliance for Women about financial inclusion of women in Zambia, the bank’s decision to join the Alliance, its hopes for its Women’s Market program and the role the bank plays in supporting women.
GBA: We first met at the GBA All-Stars Academy in The Hague last June. As you know, we are hosting our first African All-Stars Academy in Zambia this June. Can you tell us what impact the All-Stars training had on your thinking and your strategy for the Women’s Market in Zambia?
Mwansa: Our journey with GBA indeed began in June 2016 at the All-Stars Academy in The Hague, where we met and interacted with experienced guest lecturers from member banks with thriving Women’s Market programs, and continued with the 2016 Annual Summit in Washington. GBA has offered a great platform from which we intend to launch and continue to enhance our Women’s Market proposition, which is pivotal to delivering our Country Strategy.
GBA: Your value proposition to women includes access to finance, access to knowledge and access to convenient banking. When you look at this value proposition, what is the most challenging to implement, and what advice would you give other banks that are launching similar programs?
Mwansa: We are bankers by nature, and therefore you can imagine that we would be comfortable with the access to finance and access to convenient banking aspects. The one that is most challenging to implement is access to knowledge. What is critical for us is identifying and creating the right partnerships to facilitate and achieve this, whilst creating value for the bank. This is required to ensure sustainability of the Program. Our partnership with GBA has provided us with linkages to the IFC Banking on Women program and FMO, who in turn linked us to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative. These are great partners that we will leverage to achieve our ambition of providing the best Women’s Banking value proposition in Zambia.
GBA: Can you share what each of these partners is bringing to the table?
Mwansa: As a bank, we are discussing possible financing from the IFC with a view to provide preferential pricing for women entrepreneurs. We are also talking to IFC about taking an independent look at our Women’s Market strategy based on their understanding of best practices and are interested in learning more about their Gender Intelligence Training. The latter is not so much because we have low female representation on staff – it is at 42 percent – but because we know we have to learn how to communicate and engage better with our women customers.
With FMO, we’ve been discussing support for our women SME owners, mainly on the capacity building side. We have also been linked to Babson College through Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women. We are now in discussions to customize training content for Zambia.
A key benefit of GBA has been links to all of these partners.
GBA: How are you segmenting the Women’s Market?
Mwansa: We have two main segments: women Personal Banking customers and women SME owners. On the Personal Banking side, our Women’s Market program will focus on students, civil servants and professionals, and under Corporate and Commercial Banking we will cater to women directors/ executives and senior managers. On the entrepreneur side, our focus on SME owners will be within our Enterprise (SME) Banking unit. Most of the training mentioned above will be targeted at this segment.
GBA: All banks have challenges establishing the baseline of women customers. Can you tell us what definition you used to define “women-owned” businesses and what you did to get the baseline?
Mwansa: While we have gender flags on personal accounts, we have limitations on business accounts. We are therefore currently managing this process manually.
GBA: Going forward, are you putting in a flag for gender of business owner?
Mwansa: Yes, we are looking to ultimately automate this process and are engaging key IT stakeholders for possible solutions.
GBA: Do you think Stanbic Bank will look into having dedicated Women’s Market programs in other countries?
Mwansa: This is certainly a possibility. We will need to review where each market is in terms of women and banking. Our focus is to roll out our program in Zambia with GBA support and thereafter engage extensively.
GBA: When you look at the Zambian market, we see low levels of financial inclusion in general, with just 31 percent of the population having access to a bank account (Findex, 2014). When you segment by business size, we see reasonable levels of access to finance in urban areas for women micro-entrepreneurs. However, many women find it difficult to get adequate financing once they grow their businesses, particularly from banks. Why is this the case?
Mwansa: In all our market research (we did surveys, focus groups, telephone interviews), what came out clearly is that most women had inadequate information to be able to formalize their businesses or inadequate access to finance. Through our training, mentorship program and networking events, our women entrepreneurs will gain knowledge in business management, access to capital and access to markets. This initiative will go a long way in reaching out to women, enhancing their financial knowledge and therefore increasing their ability to access credit and formal banking services.
GBA: Mentoring is a particularly impactful way of supporting women, yet there are few programs that have achieved scale and sustainability. Tell us your thinking here.
Mwansa: We are looking at two options: outsourcing vs. in-house. We are talking to a local partner who already has existing mentors, a mentoring program and management capability. Our other option is to identify our own mentors and have Stanbic do the program management. In that case, we will work with organizations that have existing groups of women mentors.
GBA: You mentioned that collateral requirements from banks, especially the need for a property title, are a particular barrier for women. What has/is Stanbic Bank doing to counteract that?
Mwansa: The collateral requirement for lending has indeed been a deterrent for most women. Our research found that a lot of women have properties that are not registered in their name. We are therefore looking to partner with legal firms and organizations to provide legal advice. This will enable women to also build property portfolios where applicable that could support their business growth.
A second piece of this is that 50 percent of the women we have engaged with say that their businesses are informal. Our proposition will offer women specific support and advice through our partners on formalizing their businesses.
In addition to this, our lending facilities include trade finance transactions that in some cases do not require collateral. We also offer Asset Finance that utilizes the moveable asset being financed as security. We anticipate that our women’s proposition will incorporate this, particularly given the recent establishment of a collateral registry following the enactment of the Moveable Property Security Interest Act No. 3 of 2016. This enables small-sized businesses to use movable property as an alternative to fixed property as security to access finance.
GBA: In the access to knowledge piece of your Women’s Market value proposition you have training services. Can you describe the key challenges/success factors?
Mwansa: We have planned training sessions in each quarter that will benefit women starting up their businesses or already in business and looking to accelerate their growth. A key challenge is the cost of the sessions to achieve the right level of impact. This is where the aforementioned partnerships come into play.
GBA: With low access to finance in general in Zambia, and in rural areas in particular, mobile has got to be a big part of the solution. What is Stanbic doing in mobile and what, if any, modifications have you made to reach women?
Mwansa: Our proposition will indeed be underpinned by a focus to enhance our mobile banking functionality; payments on mobile devices provide the convenience that women require. Mobile banking will get increasingly useful as we integrate more solutions and functionality.
GBA: Given that 70 percent of Zambian households are involved in agriculture or aquaculture, and knowing that in Africa women do the bulk of the farm work, what is Stanbic doing in agricultural finance?
Mwansa: At Stanbic we were awarded the Best Agri-Business Bank in Zambia 2016 award by the Global Banking and Finance Review. We have agriculture expertise and work with a lot of partners with a presence in the main farming blocks (regions) in Zambia. These partners are available to provide technical and banking support. Where we have limited reach, we partner with entities that provide monitoring capabilities, allowing us to reach out to particularly small-scale farmers.
GBA: What challenges do you foresee regarding staff buy-in for the Women’s Market program?
Mwansa: In every change environment you will expect some staff with delayed buy-in. We are looking to roll out Gender Intelligence Training, and we are currently engaging IFC, who are experts in this area, to assist. We will also embark on staff sensitization through roadshows to obtain full buy-in.
As an organization, we have already begun this gender journey with a “Blue Diamonds” proposition for female staff. With this internal focus, our current gender ratios stand at about 58 percent male and 42 percent female. The issue is not gender imbalance – it’s more about how women think differently and how we incorporate that into our customer approach.
GBA: What benefits do you get from GBA membership?
Mwansa: We are excited about our GBA membership. We have found great value from the access to a broad network of organizations worldwide that have the expertise and experience necessary to launch and embed a successful Women’s Market proposition. We look forward to a great partnership in 2017 and beyond.