A YEAR OF BRINGING POSSIBILITY TO LIFE
Our purpose is clear: We are dedicated to helping our customers and stakeholders find ways to get things done. This is Africanacity, writes KEABETSWE PHEKO-MOSHAGANE, Managing Director, Absa Bank Botswana
In 2016, Barclays PLC announced that it was reducing its ownership of Barclays Africa Group Limited to a minority shareholding. Following completion of the sell down, we officially introduced a new brand name to the market, Absa.
From its origins in 1950, the bank’s new identity marked the start of a new era, becoming a truly standalone African bank poised to further unlock Africa’s potential. This was more than simply a re-branding exercise and signalled a new chapter in our growth journey: a new responsibility and purpose, as well as the opportunity to determine our impact and place in the world as well as our role in society.
BRINGING POSSIBILITIES TO LIFE
The new brand offered us the opportunity to redefine what we stand for, which is to be more deliberate, bolder and putting our customers at the centre of everything that we do. We are a truly Africa brand celebrating our African heritage, inspired by the people we serve. We are Brave, Passionate and Ready to serve and make Africa proud. With a relentless African spirit, our purpose is to bring possibilities to life.
As a bank, we believe in possibility and the actions of people who always find a way to get things done. Furthermore, we believe that life on the continent is full of both obstacles and opportunities. We are a continent of doers, always going above and beyond to find a way to get things done and to overcome these obstacles in an ingenious way. At Absa, we call this Africanacity! Our brand promise is centred in creating opportunities for our customers to make their possibilities real and supporting them at every step of the way. We in turn inspire our people – employees, clients and partners - to live with the spirit of Africanacity in them every day.
Our new purpose has been and continues to be the key driver in all our strategic efforts. It serves to help guide us in delivering our new ambitions. To-date we have made notable strides in our continued efforts to bring possibilities to life.
PLAYING A SHAPING ROLE IN SOCIETY THROUGH OUR SHARED VALUE AGENDA
Our role in society extends beyond selling products and services. We are a partner for sustainable progress. One of our key strategic enablers is playing a shaping role in society. We have a vested interest in creating an inclusive growth in our communities and delivering financial services in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. One of our key focus areas is to become an active force for good in society. We do this through three strategic areas: Education and Skills Development, Enterprise Development and Financial Inclusion.
Within the focus on Education and Skills Development, we have provided scholarship programmes and employability. We have the ReadytoWorkprogramme, an online learning platform targeted at equipping and empowering the youth with training and skills that they need to enhance their employability and entrepreneurial goals. To-date we have supported over 10,000 youth across various communities in Botswana. We are dedicated to continuing collaborating with government, our corporate partners, communities and other stakeholders to create more opportunities for inclusion and to grow our communities.
BECOMING A DIGITALLY-LED BANK
The separation journey presented us with the opportunity to re-examine our technology and digital capabilities. Becoming a digitally-led bank remains one of our most important agenda items. Our aim is to become a fundamentally different and disruptive bank in the fast-changing landscape. Our digital investments are geared towards enabling our customers to transact in a safe and convenient environment. Our separation presented a strategic and operational opportunity to effect improvements with half of the systems being replaced being transformational in nature and the other half being a hybrid of refreshed systems with transformational elements.
We migrated our core banking systems from the United Kingdom to the data centre in Johannesburg, South Africa and this gave us the opportunity to enhance our operations. In Botswana, we managed to launch a number of digital products and self-help services that are geared towards improving accessibility and convenience.
As part of our digital journey, we launched Chat Banking, a conversational banking solution that works across multiple channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and our online portals (web portals and Internet banking). We simplified and made buying foreign exchange seamless with the introduction of Absa NovoFX app that enables customers to buy foreign exchange (forex) and make cross-border payments from their mobile phones. The app can be downloaded from Apple and Google APP stores.
As we continue to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19, it is evident that technology has become more important more than ever before. It has become a safety implement for our society. Through technology, our customers can simply transact in the comfort and safety of their homes. It is inevitable that COVID-19 will continue to push all of us in the banking sector to offer innovative and purposeful digital solutions. In this regard, we are steadfast in investing in our digital infrastructures to ensure that our customers’ needs are continuously met and indeed exceeded.
The pandemic affected everyone in different ways across the world, but we remain united in the shared efforts towards surviving and indeed thriving beyond it. As a result of the immediate impacts, we saw and felt it was imperative that we put forward immediate and medium-term relief measures.
We understood that the outbreak of COVID-19 stands to bear an impact not only on our health but on our livelihoods, our economy and our way of life as well. We then made a conscious decision to collaborate and manage the socio- economic impact of the pandemic.
We made a substantial contribution and donations to help the fight against COVID-19. We donated P1.5 million to the National COVID-19 Relief Fund, as well as 10 000 masks to students and 3 000 masks to teachers. We remain steadfast in our commitment to playing a shaping role in society. We are dedicated to finding ways to collaborate with the Government of Botswana and other stakeholders in the fight against the pandemic.
We have been part of the fabric of Botswana for more than 70 years with a long history of supporting the development of the national economy through active participation in various sectors. As we continue on this journey, we remain deliberate in our new brand promise to entrench our new identity in the hearts and minds of Batswana. Our overriding goal is to become a banking group which the African continent can be proud of.
Our purpose is clear: We are dedicated to helping our customers and stakeholders find ways to get things done. Our commitment and our dedication indeed grow in equal measure as we look at the opportunities to be cultivated before us.