Full of energy, Taye Debekulu (centre) talks up Tsehay Bank S.C., the latest private bank to commence operations. Taye, former president of Hibret Bank, chairs the board of directors, which unveiled its gleaming logo in the presence of Yinager Dessie (PhD), governor of the central bank. Yared Mesfin, the founding president, looks at the impressionable demonstration by his boss of a bright yellow and green logo, which symbolises the sun with its rays radiating beyond.

Tsehay Bank is one of a succession of fourth-generation private banks that have recently launched operations. It is preceded by Ahadu and Amhara banks, the former only a week older. It is also one of a handful of banks that managed to lock in paid-up capital above the threshold of half a billion Birr, before it was raised 10-fold. Promoters began the journey almost two years ago and have since managed to raise 734 million Br in equity from 373 shareholders. It pales in comparison to Amhara Bank’s record-breaking 186,000 shareholders. Tsehay Bank has 2.9 billion Br in subscribed capital, with each shareholder contributing close to eight million Birr on average when all capital subscriptions are paid up.

The Bank makes its debut with 30 branches in Addis Abeba and other towns, with plans to bring the branch network to 100 in a year. Mobilising deposits for lending continues to be the bread and butter of the increasingly crowded banking industry, even as real interest rates are firmly in the negative. It will remain so for the foreseeable future, cutting short national savings. Governor Yinager, a regular attendee of inaugural bank events, have yet to develop the habit of using such venues to signal policy moves like changes in interest rates on deposits. No less challenging for Tsehay Bank, like most newcomers except Amhara Bank, will be to meet the five billion Birr minimum paid-up capital threshold in the next half a decade. Board Chair Taye says he is far from worried, planning to reach the milestone in a “short period.”

PUBLISHED ON Jul 23,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1160]

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