Enat Bank is moving ahead with a financing scheme that targets financially vulnerable women, partnering with Eziti Information Service Plc, a subsidiary of the Kenya-based digital marketing services provider Africa 118.

The project is part of a five-year programme funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Mercy Corps, a not for profit organisation founded in 1979. With a 20 million dollar fund, the program targets women and youth to help them improve their livelihoods. Last year, Enat Bank signed an agreement with Mercy Corps and Eziti to connect users with home service providers through a digital platform, Taskmoby.

Developed by Eziti Information Service last year, the digital platform connects service providers like cleaners, plumbers and electricians with clients. Eziti has been operating under Africa 118 for a decade. The company was incorporated in 2010 by TRK Group, an Oslo-based firm, founded by Trond Riiber Knudsen, a long-term McKinsey's senior partner.

The financing scheme plans to provide 3,000 Br each to 300 women in credit.

Enat Bank will cover half of the collateral put under a closed account, disclosed Aklil Girma, director of marketing, communications and customer service. The programme will cover the balance. Enat Bank's share of the fund is sourced from shareholders, who contributed between three and five percent of their dividends.

Close to 19 million Br has been collected from shareholders thus far, according to Aklil.

The Bank, which registered 230 million Br profit last year, has helped 50 women who managed to find cleaning jobs through Taskmoby.

Demoz Tilahun, 32, is one of the beneficiaries. The mother of two found work last year with four clients working as a cleaner, following a 15-day training under the programme.

“I didn't have enough money to use as collateral initially,” she said.

Demoz earns 7,500 Br a month from her work.

“Although the collateral seems small compared to the risk, we haven't faced any problems,” said Misganaw Alemu, director of operations at Eziti Information Service.

Ermias Andarge serves as the third president of the Bank since its incorporation eight years ago with a paid-up capital of 75 million Br. It focuses on women's advancement in business influenced by its women shareholders representing two-thirds of the 18,000, including Justice Meaza Ashenafi, a founding shareholder. Registering outstanding loans and advances at 8.97 billion Br, a 40pc jump, the Bank launched banking solutions to finance women eligible for loans but do not have assets to put as collateral. The Bank advances a minimum of 20,000 Br to likely borrowers under the scheme.

Enat Bank has disbursed close to 24 million Br to 80 women without collateral. Its executives encourage depositors to put savings into a closed account as a guarantee for women entrepreneurs. Growing competition for deposit mobilisation pushed banks into customer segmentation strategies. Dashen and the Bank of Abyssinia segment clients based on income to provide premium service to high-end customers. The state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) also introduced teen, youth, and women accounts in 2013 to boost its deposits.

The liquidity crunch and slowdown in economic growth have harmed deposit mobilisation, forcing banks to look for alternatives. However, Enat Bank boosted deposits by 32pc to 11.2 billion Br. Competition is expected to intensify with new players in the banking industry, including banks that offer full-fledged interest-free banking services.

Tewodros Tassew, a financial technologies consultant, says banks should focus on innovation to create new revenue streams through market segmentation and offer new products to withstand the competition.

“The adaptation of digital services is also crucial," he said.

However, Tewodros urges banks to have thorough planning and a clear vision to implement these strategies successfully.

PUBLISHED ON May 14,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1150]

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