Sixty-seven years old Ruth Nyambura spent most of her life excluded from access to financial services. Nyambura, now a leading farmer in Rumuruti, says years back, banks were niche players serving the affluent few, while a larger part of her generation was left with dreams that could not be fulfilled. The few residents in the region who could afford bank accounts in the region would have to walk long distances to access banking services. This meant, investing time and resources, which to date remain precious assets.
However, many years later, their struggle to be financially included has come to an end after Equity opened a branch in Rumuruti town, currently the administrative headquarters of Laikipia County.
Through its entrance, Equity demystified how Nyambura and the residents understood banking: From walking miles away to access a bank, to receiving banking services next door. Being the first commercial bank to open in the town, the Bank has provided financial services that would otherwise have meant locals travelling great distances to access.
Commenting on the transformation of the region as powered by financial democratisation, Equity Rumuruti Branch Business Growth and Development Manager Mr Daniel Kinyua said: “Prior to the opening of the Bank in this area, residents who are mostly farmers, would save money in their homes. Being among the largest livestock markets in Kenya with a turnover of over Ksh30 million on market days, the traders would feel burdened carrying physical money for long distances. The Bank has progressively transformed the lives of farmers and residents of Rumuruti by providing them with a secure place for their money and convenience.”
Livestock farmers in Rumuruti have been empowered with facilities such as livestock fattening loans, asset financing and insurance products for both the livestock and health cover. This in turn has helped them boost their output, increasing their profits and improving their livelihoods.
Ngummo Farm Manager George Wanyiri Thumbi said: “Our cattle fattening business has been boosted by Equity opening in Rumuruti. It used to be so cumbersome to transact because it had to be cash transaction, which would force us then to take the cash to Nyahururu, about 42km away, or accompany the buyer to Nyahururu to effect a fund transfer.”
The Bank’s Kilimo Biashara Loan offered to agri-business ventures, small businesses in the manufacturing industry and those in the business of importing and exporting produce, has also offered these farmers flexibility and convenience as one gets up to an amount that matches their requirements and ability to repay.
One of the Bank’s customers, Nchekena Kaishu, said: “I took up asset financing for my pick-up from the Bank. The vehicle has not only been of benefit to me, but it is serving the whole region of Mathira, where I am able to assist them transport their livestock and farm produce to different parts of the country.” A second customer, Jeremiah Tuei arap Kipleting, who is a tomato farmer, said: “Since the bank opened here in Rumuruti, I have been able to expand my tomato farming from two acres to eight acres in a span of one year. This has been made possible by the loan facilities I accessed from the Bank, which do not have a lot of requirements and are processed very fast.”
Being a bank that is passionate about transforming lives, Equity has partnered with like-minded institutions such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), to increase the amount of credit and financing available to smallholder farmers across Kenya. Therefore, farmers in Rumuruti access loans towards the development of their agri-business and purchase farming equipment or machinery, including tractors.
In addition to this, the Bank provides tailor-made solutions, creates new business models while increasing accessibility, convenience and affordability for the residents of Rumuruti town. This has seen the Bank extend its network of branches and services in a cost-efficient manner through authorised agents.
Equity’s agency banking has gained popularity in the area due to the fact that it has provided the residents with last mile banking, banking at the doorstep. With such comfort and convenience, customers have felt safe to do their transactions. These agents have also been able to empower the community through creating employment and business opportunities. An Equity Agent, Teresiah Wambui Mbauni, said: “I have been getting good commissions out of Equity agency banking. This has enabled me to access loans from the Bank and employ three people.”
The Bank has extended the same services to a 24-hour opportunity by digitising its solutions. Equity continues to support its customers to adopt new ways of banking that allow them to transact conveniently and with efficiency from anywhere in the world.
EazzyBanking App can be accessed through a mobile phone, where customers can use the App to send money, pay for goods and services, pay bills, apply for a loan and manage their bank accounts.
EazzyBiz, Equity’s robust, secure and comprehensive Cash and Liquidity Management solution, allows businesses to make payments, track their payments and receivables accounts, manage their cash flows and even integrate their accounts to their financial and human resources modules, allowing them to make quick financial decisions and to make salary, supplier and statutory payments with ease.
Additionally, the Bank also offers advisory services, as customers in the region value the convenience and personal interaction within the Branch. Part of this interaction includes educating and training the residents on financial management and sustainability, thus increasing their financial literacy.
As Equity progresses with its socio-economic transformation purpose, it has positioned itself as a responsive financial institution that continues to drive economic progress and empowerment, support businesses and improve the lives and livelihoods of its customers. Furthermore, there is so much hope for the residents of Rumuruti as the Bank, through providing financial access and innovative solutions, remains a key pillar for economic growth, development, and stability within the region.