Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Banking industry in Kenya

I took a 46 matatu to Kawangware this weekend and I noticed a new building that is in finishing process. The building didn’t look like a common shop or a flat that are so many in the area, but was shocked by the blue name on the building. I couldn’t believe Barclays bank is opening a branch in Kawangware!

Am sure many Kenyan’s would be shocked like me because there was a time in Kenya when such banks where only for a certain class of people. The common mwanainchi like those in Kawangware would go to NBK, Co-operative and KCB. Co-operative would be found in such places where they could reach the common mwanainchi.

Competition is now stiff with banks like Equity coming into the market and opening branches closer to wanainchi. Co-operative was already doing that, the banks are also offering loans left right and center and competition is getting stiffer.

The pace at which Equity has come up and is opening branches all over is alarming. It reminds me of Uchumi Supermarket when they decided to open branches in estates at a high rate. We all know what happened next and I hope this is not the same case with Equity.

Just when I thought of writing about the shock of seeing Barclays in Kawangware , I received this email, forwarded to me, as sent by an "alleged" Equity Bank employee.......................

Truth or Trash? You decide. I personally think Equity is exactly what Kenya needs to wake these other banks up.

"Dear readers, You may never have heard of me...but worry not because i mean no harm at all.I work at Equity bank as a cashier at a branch
in town but am looking for a job since i see no future with this bank.I just want to warn you,be VERY careful about EQUITY BANK.All is not as rosy as it seems.There are people playing Russian roulette with hard earned savings of Kenyans and the unfortunate thing is that the low income earners are the ones who will be affected by the eventual collapse of Equity bank.The revelations in parliament recently is just a tip of the iceberg.The Bank is actually in the RED.The fact that it is surviving is because it has got political backing right from the country's top executive.The youth development funds being channeled through it and also the womens development fund are just a cover
up.Those funds from government are actually being used to give the bank the much needed shot in the arm.This is for the simple reason that there have been large payouts to well connected individuals in the form of unsecured loans that characterised the growth of now collapsed banks such as Trade Bank, Delphis Bank, Bullion Bank and Trust bank.The top CEO's portfolio is also very suspect and top management is composed of individuals from one community.The Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth claimed that the manager resigned in !982 from Trade bank,however,note that Trade bank was not in existance then! The ambitious expansion embarked on by the bank and the installation of ATM machines in record time is also very suspect.To refresh your mind,you can remember that just before the collapse of UCHUMI Chain of supermarkets,they had embarked on a countrywide expansion,opening up stores in almost every town.if in doubt, ask yourself why banks that have been around for quite a while like the Co-operative Bank have not had
such expansion rates despite mainly catering for the low income earners.in short,this is a classic case of a pyramid scheme,only these
time,its on a large scale.For the price of a share to shoot to an all time high for a company that has been on the stock exchange for less
than a year leaves a lot to be desired.Watch this space dear kenyans,and you will quote me right in days to come. There is a way out though...the time to get out is now.Its better to keep your money under a bed/matress than wait for a few people to steal it and forever never step in the inside of a courtroom.I know each of you has got a relative,friend,sister or brother associating with this bank.please help them by talking to them.Don 't force them but just be gentle.This is an election year and politicians are desperate to get money for dishing out,and by putting money in Equity Bank,you have willingly funded them for their greedy gains.FAMILY FINANCE is also part of the gravy train but that is just a story for another day.You are welcome to dismiss me as a false alarmist,arguing without facts, but sometimes its the blind lead the way.Please foward this mail to as many Kenyans as you can.You will have saved s another Goldenberg,saved us another anglo leasing and enabled a soul to live another day."


Waititu Warima said...


When Equity Bank representatives came to Atlanta a couple mounths ago, lots and lots of Kenyans lined up to open up savings accounts. I too was caught up in the excitement and was waiting patiently in line,...passport & ID in hand.....when I decided to call my Mom to tell her how lucky we were in ATL coz Equity bank was in town.

I was suprised when my Mother didn't share my enthusiasm. She told me of how she's seen banks come and go in Nairobi since the 70's, 80's and how they were all preceded by much public funfare....ati how most of those banks collapsed just as fast as they had come into town...leaving the public shocked & devastated. Her advise was to hold back and not jump into the bandwagon; that I should give the bank time to prove itself.

When I hanged up the phone, I was still stubbornly in line...but I started remembering how in so many issues in the past, my mother's intuition had come to pass. At 30, I've finally come to respect the foresight of our parents - and as far as intuitions go, mother had a good track record.

Slowly, I started imagining saving all my money with Equity Bank over a few years and then waking up one morning only to read in the Nation ati Equity is no more. By the time I got to the front of the line, mother's advise was just too strong so I bowed out of line and let the mwananchi behind me to go ahead.
My wife was waiting for me with a friend, and to this day...I've never told her why I didn't open an account with Equity Bank.

I certainly do not wish Equity bank bad. Infact I'm very inspired by the bank's history and how Mr.Peter Kahara Munga started it from nothing. I wish them well, and I surely hope it will be around for years to come. But I won't gamble my hard-earned savings on that. I'll let Equity bank prove it self.

Sue said...

Even as adults we still need our parents advise. Equity is the kind of bank for the common mwanainchi, many now own accounts at the bank and happy with the services. Unfortunately history is not on their side with the many banks that have collapsed in the past.

Time will tell.

Sue said...

Even as adults we still need our parents advise. Equity is the kind of bank for the common mwanainchi, many now own accounts at the bank and happy with the services. Unfortunately history is not on their side with the many banks that have collapsed in the past.

Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Hope this has stood the test of time

African Women said...

I also go with Equity bank. Excellent customer support and good rates. I can't believe some banks charge you to deposit money hapo kwa jirani