- Bank commits to women and youth empowerment
- Climate change another key strategic focus area for the bank
The commitment of Standard Chartered Bank to Botswana can be evidenced by its continued investment in its local franchise, the bank’s CEO for Africa and Middle East (AME), Sunil Kaushal, has said.
Speaking at the 125 years anniversary of StanChart in Gaborone recently, Kaushal noted: “We have overhauled our distribution network for Botswana to ensure that Batswana from far and wide can access the bank digitally from anywhere.
“It has been remarked in some quarters that we may have left some of the population behind. However, we believe that leading the trend is synonymous with who we are – a bank of many firsts.” Kaushal shared the bank’s greater vision, especially from an African perspective, saying the demographic dividend for Africa is an enormous opportunity. With the median age of the African population being about 19.7, Kaushal said there is a huge opportunity for StanChart to tap into this unexploited market.
He added that a better way to reach them is through mobile where they spend the majority of their time, hence the bank will continue to invest in digital. “We will continue to find the best ways to reach an audience that we have sometimes missed out on previously,” Kaushal said. It emerged that another key area of focus for the bank is women empowerment. “Not only do we know that women are the backbone of every society, we also know that Botswana and other African markets have large concentrations of women entrepreneurs,” Kaushal observed.
The 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs states that Botswana, Uganda and Ghana have the highest concentrations of female entrepreneurs. Botswana leads the pack with 38.5 percent. Kaushal noted that initiatives like the Futuremakers will ensure that women hone their entrepreneurial skills and that they learn, earn and grow to become active participants in the economies that StanChart serves.
In Botswana alone, StanChart has funded the Futuremakers programme to the tune of over USD450,000 over the last three years. Kaushal noted that a key catalyst for growth on the African continent will rest on the bank’s ability to include women and the youth in the economies which it serves. “The Africa rising story has always been beset by challenges – the COVID pandemic was one such challenge,” he said.
Climate change also emerged as key strategic area of focus for the bank where it is “very intentional” about its journey to net zero and has set itself transitional targets. “Not only are we intentional about our own carbon footprint but are also intentional about the sectors and projects that we will finance and ensure that we journey with our clients to net zero,” said Kaushal. Meanwhile, in April this year, the bank announced a decision to fully exit operations in markets like Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
Kaushal said this was not an easy decision to make. “I do note there have been some concerns about our exit from some African markets,” he noted. “I wish to reiterate to you that these were not easy decisions to make.” He added that as with any strategic decisions, it was necessary for the bank to move forward with a renewed focus on the markets that it has retained. But even as it commits to Botswana, StanChart will continue to promote sustainable development and job creation, Kaushal said.