- Tanzania-based CRDB bank has recognized the potential for growth opportunities in regional economies.
- CRDB Bank has established a presence in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC, following in the footsteps of Kenya’s Equity and KCB.
- CRDB Bank’s regional expansion aims to facilitate cross-border trade and enhance financial inclusion.
CRDB Bank is evolving into a partner for growth for East Africa’s entrepreneurs by seeking to replicate its success story in Tanzania across the regional markets. The bank has recognized the potential for growth and opportunities in neighboring countries and is strategically expanding its operations in East Africa.
In Tanzania, entrepreneurs are tapping into the lender’s range of products to scale into new growth horizons. Take Diana Tarimo for instance. When Diana received about $21,000 in business loans from CRDB, this became the catalyst she needed to expand her water distribution investments in suburban Dar es Salaam.
Diana is one of over 10,000 women entrepreneurs, who have received loans totaling $37 million from CRDB. Headquartered in Tanzania, CRDB is undertaking regional expansion to extend its services beyond the country’s borders.
With successful rollout, the Tanzania-based lender will rival Nairobi-based banking giants KCB Group and Equity Group, who are also expanding into the East African market. The East African Community bloc is a market of roughly 480 million people.
As part of its regional expansion, CRDB Bank has established branches and representative offices in countries such as Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and DRC. In April 2022, the DRC formally joined the EAC becoming the youngest member of the bloc.
Tanzania’s CRDB bank to facilitate cross-border trade
These branches provide banking services to both individual and corporate clients, including various financial products and services such as loans, savings accounts, and remittance solutions.
CRDB Bank’s regional expansion aims to facilitate cross-border trade, enhance financial inclusion, and support economic development in the East African region. By expanding its footprint, the bank seeks to leverage its expertise and experience gained in Tanzania to cater to the needs of customers in neighboring countries, fostering regional integration and collaboration in the financial sector.
According to advisory firm Ernest and Young, Tanzania’s banking sector recorded an impressive performance in 2021, with operating income increasing by 58.8 percent. On a broader scale, the sector has evolved over the past years, whereby the banks in the country are categorized into large banks such as CRDB, medium banks, and small banks.
CRDB’s CEO and Managing Director, Abdulmajid Nsekela, says the bank has an unwavering commitment to rollout strategies powering growth for the bank, customers, investors, and regional economies, too.
With a $3.98 billion balance sheet, the bank is targeting critical sectors of regional economies such as agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, and industrialization. By targeting these industries, and their value chains, the move will give rise to millions of jobs.
At the moment, the Tanzania-based lender has 3.4 million customers, a two-fold increase from 1.5 million in 2018.
CRDB secures operating license in DRC
The bank has set a base in Burundi and has also secured an operating license in the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo. Competitors KCB and Equity entered DRC through the acquisition of TMB and Banque Commerciale Du Congo (BCDC) respectively.
Established in 2012, CRDB Bank Burundi S.A is a wholly owned subsidiary of CRDB Bank Plc. The unit offers innovative banking services to individuals, non-state actors, and businesses in Burundi.
“We need to leverage on technology rather than a physical presence that requires heavy capital investment. With the partnership, technology will be key to our expansion and will be the differentiating factor,” Nsekela argued.
On a broader scale, the bank CEO sees the vast and growing banking potential across the region as a breeding ground for CRDB’s expansion.
“Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Kenya, Malawi and Comoros are our neighbours with so much trade with Tanzania. CRDB is well positioned to serve those customers but still depends on our mode of entry,” the CEO explains.
In the expansive DRC, where CRDB has a 55 percent stake in a local subsidiary, the lender anticipates establishing a branch in Lubumbashi. Further, it has set sights on major cities Kinshasa, Lualaba, Kasai, Kisangani, Tanganyika, and North and South Kivu within three years.
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Empowering Tanzania economy
In Tanzania, the bank has remained true to its calling by empowering local businesses. And it is largely this mode of operation which it seeks to replicate in new frontier markets.
The bank is rolling out various strategies to execute its ambitions, including the flagship campaign iMBEJU, which lifts youth and women innovators, under CRDB Bank Foundation.
“The iMBEJU program operates in two formats; through a competitive structure for empowering startups and women entrepreneurs,” TullyEsther Mwambapa, CRDB Bank Foundation Managing Director, told The Citizen.
Further, CRDB Bank is allocating one percent of its profits annually to implement responsible corporate citizen programmes. Here, the lender targets community projects on education, health, environment and empowerment of women and youth.
Already, the bank has spent over $479,000 on health programmes. It has also used about $377,183 on education and $94,196 on environment protection. A further $423428 has been given to women, youth and sports while other projects used $496,393 since 2021.
Catalyst for growth of infant businesses
In order to enhance impact and reach, CRDB has a MoU with the Information and Communication Technologies Commission and Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech). Costech director general, Dr Amos Nungu, says “the MoU will be a catalyst for the growth of infant businesses in various sectors.”
The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE)-listed lender has disbursed about $1.5 million in the last two years alone.
CRDB Bank is setting the stage to empower players in regional economies for sustainable growth. With over $4 billion in total assets, the lender issued $2.8 billion in total loans in the 12-month period ended December 2022.