Since January 2022, you have been the new Managing Director of FBNBank DRC, now FirstBank DRC. What are you most proud of?
Being my first experience in the DRC, 2022 was a good year for the bank, though not without challenges (economic, social and political).
However, in addition to positioning the bank as one of the most profitable banks in the market, our support to communities has been one of the things I am most proud of these projects include:
The construction of the cutting & sewing section of the Lycée Vuvu Kieto in Matadi in Central Kongo which is a decade old school in DRC.
Secondly, the support to orphanages, the construction of adequate sanitary facilities in the orphanage ‘cœur de charité’ in Kinshasa, the support to the rehabilitation project of the mother & child ‘mère et enfant’ health centre of Barumbu in Kinshasa.
Others include the expansion of our network of agencies in the cities of Butembo and Likasi with a total of 38 agencies to date and the construction of new buildings for the Mbandaka, Kimpese, UPN and Rondpoint Ngaba agencies in Kinshasa, which will be operational in the course of this year 2023.
And finally, the involvement of each and every agent of FirstBank DRC in the success of the bank’s activity during the year 2022.
Why is the bank changing its name to that of its Nigerian parent company, First Bank of Nigeria?
FirstBank’s subsidiaries will no longer be known as FBNBank, but will now be called FirstBank. For example, FBNBank DRC will now be known and addressed as FirstBank DRC.
The name change became imperative for a number of reasons, including the following:
- To internationalise the FirstBank brand for clarity and consistency.
- To eliminate name confusion, particularly in markets where there are ETF banks.
- Facilitate brand consistency across the bank’s locations.
- Strengthen brand equity by building on the heritage and achievements built by FirstBank Nigeria over its 129 years of leadership in the banking industry.
- Leveraging other advantages associated with a monolithic brand, such as strong partnerships, good performance, good reputation, competitive pricing and extensive business networks.
- Marking all our intellectual property in all markets in accordance with international best practice.
- Increase brand awareness, visibility and recognition.
- Promote synergy in all markets, improving perception and helping markets achieve their goals.
What are the major changes that the bank will experience with the new name from FBNBank DRC to FirstBank DRC?
No major changes will be observed with the change of name of the bank apart from the new name and the insertion of the elephant in the bank’s logo.
Indeed, the logo of our bank as well as all branches have an elephant in it except that of the DRC branch due to the use of the elephant by BCDC at other times; which does not give us the right to use the elephant as our brand emblem in DRC.
Thus, we take this opportunity to explain the meaning and significance of the elephant in the FirstBank DRC logo. First of all, it should be noted that the FirstBank logo was refreshed in 2014.
- The head has been raised and widened to signify maturity and confidence. The forehead is wider, which is a mark of wisdom.
- The ear is raised, less pointed, more friendly and attentive to customers, both internal and external. The elephant has a good memory and never forgets.
- The eye is now turned upwards and towards the future, which means that we are focused on taking on new challenges and achieving new milestones.
- The tusks are larger, reflecting our age, experience, heritage and value.
- The leg is now forward facing, showing that we will always put our best foot forward for our customers.
- The trunk is no longer curved inwards, giving the impression of being shy. The combination of a raised head and a forward curved trunk is a sign of confidence and charisma.
- The body of the elephant has been replaced by us. Our people are the body of the elephant and are the driving force and engine of this great brand.
The colours of the bank remain the same, blue remains the main colour of our brand. It is a rich hue that has been combined with an exciting and vibrant colour.
Gold (yellow) to achieve visibility in the retail space for the retail-facing components of the group’s business.
We chose yellow gold to enhance our ability to be visible in the marketplace. In addition, gold has the following characteristics:
- It increases in value over time
- It never loses its intrinsic value
- It is always alive
- It is the gold standard
- It is a durable precious metal.
Yellow gold is already in our DNA – because we set the gold standard!
What is your assessment of FBNBank DRC’s fiscal year 2022?
The year 2022 has been a challenging year due to the great crisis that the world has experienced with the war in Ukraine, including the fuel crisis that the DRC has experienced, a situation that has caused the price to rise, a fluctuation in the rate of quotes on the market. In addition, we have our own challenges whether in terms of market share or profitability of the bank.
However, despite its many challenges, 2022 remains a good year for FBNBank DRC, now FirstBank DRC. During this year, achieved a profitability of 97.4% with a total balance sheet that has crossed the billion USD mark; this has allowed us to be in the top 5 of the best in the DRC market.
2022 was also a good year for the FBNBank brand with good visibility in the DRC media landscape whether through TV, radio, billboards or digital.
The bank participated in several events during the year, including DRC Mining, the first edition of the country risk forum and the 2022 edition of the Makutano forum. However, it has been most notable in its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) actions, which it has identified as a way for the bank to support the communities where it is located by reaching out to various segments of the population across the territory. Over the years, FirstBank DRC has increased its investment in CSR across several cities in the country, including Matadi, Boma, Kikwit, Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Kananga, Beni, Goma, Uvira and Butembo. This outpouring of solidarity with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo was most evident in the health, welfare, education and community development sectors.
These numerous initiatives have enabled FBNBank DRC SA, now FirstBank DRC, to be crowned the best CSR bank in the DRC by the Global Brand Award, a ceremony that took place on 10 December last year in Dubai.
With 129 years of banking experience in Africa and 9 years in the DRC market, what can you say about the DRC mining sector and its collaboration with FirstBank DRC?
The DRC’s mining sector is a growth sector, which remains at the heart of the Congolese economy, and has remained dynamic and resilient to the COVID19 pandemic, as well as to the fluctuating prices of different commodities.
Medium-term growth projections could be higher if sustainable solutions were found to address the constraints on the development of mining activity, including the supply of electricity.
We are all following the progress of the talks between the Congolese government and the Chinese side, which we hope will lead to an agreement, which will certainly propel the mining industry to greater heights given the expected growth prospects.
FirstBank DRC, with its experience and reputation in the banking sector, has been able to position itself by providing banking solutions tailored to the needs of the mining sector which are characterised by the following points
- Export financing
- Financing the mining value chain
- Digitisation of processes to provide miners with real-time information on their situation;
- Business process management
- Payroll management
For the past 5 years, FirstBank DRC has paid particular attention to the mining sector, which is diverse across the country, and the positioning of its various branches can attest to this.
In which area of the mining sector in the DRC is FirstBank the most present?
FirstBank DRC wants to be a bank that is close to the mining activity, which is why we opt for a strategy of setting up in the various mining sites in order to respond quickly to our clients’ wishes.
We know that the delay in payment by miners to their value chains is a hindrance to their development. This is why FirstBank DRC has put in place financing products to accompany the different value chains with the result of improving their activities and therefore boosting the economy.
FirstBank DRC is strongly committed to two levels of the DRC’s mining sector, namely
- Repatriation of funds from mining activities as provided for in the mining sector law
- The financing of the sector by effectively financing subcontractors to make them more efficient.
What are the prospects for FirstBank DRC to support the mining sector in the DRC?
Building on its international presence, FirstBank DRC is positioning itself as a bank capable of financing the mining sector beyond the local market with the participation of its UK subsidiary.
Our goal is to continue to support the sector in a way that makes the bank a player of choice for all investors in the sector.
Will FirstBank DRC’s 2023 vision be rich in opportunities for the mining sector in the DRC?
Certainly yes. The DRC’s economy is dominated by the mining sector. Mineral resources are abundant, notably: copper, cobalt, diamonds, gold, tin, etc. Ninety-five percent of its exports are raw materials (mainly copper and cobalt, 40% of which are destined for China).
FirstBank DRC, a subsidiary of First Bank Nigeria Limited, has a vision to be the Congolese ‘First Choice’ bank with a mission to create banking solutions that bring sustainable value to all stakeholders.
To date, our bank already has the products to work with miners, but we are not stopping there, we also intend to introduce much more innovative products that will make miners a priority in our banking activities this year 2023.
I think that stands us out as a vision that is quite rich in opportunities for the mining sector. In terms of sectorial allocation in 2023, I can tell you clearly that mining sector has a very predominant position.
No amount of risk s too much for us to take as long as we find out transactions******In terms of leadership in that particular area, we have deployed someone highly qualified executive to be the contact person of choice in this particular field.
In a competitive banking market such as the DRC, where does FirstBank stand today?
In a highly competitive environment where 16 commercial banks share the DRC market, FirstBank DRC SA is one of the most prestigious banks, which has been contributing to the economic development of the country since 1994. Despite the many changes it has undergone over the years, it has remained resilient, trustworthy and dynamic.
To date, we are the 5th best bank in the market in terms of profitability, deposit taking and balance sheet.
What is your final word?
The name change from FBNBank DRC to FirstBank DRC was implemented to align with the parent brand to leverage on the strong brand heritage and equity built by First Bank of Nigeria Limited over its 129 years of existence as a leading bank and industry-leading financial services provider for the benefit of our customers worldwide. This change will ensure brand clarity, uniformity and consistency across the respective markets in which the FirstBank Group operates. The renaming of the subsidiaries will also strengthen the perception of the bank as a monolithic brand and enhance the opportunities to maximise synergies across the globe.
Since its inception in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with its customers by focusing on the core principles of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, our parent company, FirstBank of Nigeria, has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing a key role in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation programmes. With its global reach, the FirstBank Group offers potential investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities available in Africa and beyond, a world class, internationally competitive brand and a credible financial partner.
FBNBank DRC SA (FBNBank), now FirstBank DRC SA, is one of the most prestigious banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, contributing to the country’s economic development since 1994. Despite the many changes it has undergone over the years in the DRC, it has remained resilient, trustworthy and dynamic. FIrstBank DRC, a subsidiary of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has a vision to be the Congolese bank of ‘first choice’ with a mission to create banking solutions that bring sustainable value to all stakeholders. With our team of highly qualified professionals who have many years of experience in the banking industry, we provide a rich bouquet of products to meet the banking needs of individuals, businesses and the business community in the country. We are committed to providing the best personalised, competitive and customer-oriented services.
The name change from FBNBank DRC to FirstBank DRC will reinforce our brand’s position as a partner in nation building. We want to reassure the general public of our commitment to provide excellent services to all our customers through diversified product lines and competitive pricing, as well as a passionate and customer-focused staff who support our goals of positively impacting local businesses and institutions.
We welcome all our customers and stakeholders to a new era of a truly global FirstBank brand, and in particular to FirstBank DRC.
FirstBank DRC, with its experience and reputation in the banking sector, has been able to position itself by providing banking solutions tailored to the needs of the mining sector.
With a profitability of 97.4% with a total balance sheet that has crossed the billion USD mark; FirstBank DRC is in the top 5 of the best in the DRC market.
The name change from FBNBank DRC to FirstBank DRC will reinforce our brand’s position as a partner in nation building