M&B spoke to Jessica Nyachiro, Managing Director of CRDB Bank Congo, the Tanzanian bank that has just opened in the DRC.

What is CRDB and how long have you been in the DRC? 

CRDB Bank DR Congo is a fully-fledged commercial bank, a subsidiary of the CRDB Bank Group of Tanzania; its shareholding is made up of CRDB Bank Plc 55%, NorFund (a Norwegian sovereign wealth fund) 22.5% and IFU of Denmark 22.5%. It will open its doors in Congo in July 2023. 

What customer segment does your bank focus on? 

Our integrated business model is designed to meet the broad needs of the different market segments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to stimulate sustainable economic growth and to respond to the evolving needs of our customers. We will focus on the corporate, SME and retail segments. 

What advantages do you have over competitors who have been present on the Congolese banking market for decades? 

At CRDB Bank, we believe in excellent customer service. All our efforts and dedication are geared towards creating a memorable experience for all our customers. Our corporate values are rooted in ensuring that we make a difference in everything we do, while holding ourselves accountable. Our success over the last 25 years is down to great teamwork and our ability to keep an open mind and learn from our environment. 

What solutions do you propose to promote financial inclusion? 

CRDB Bank Plc is an innovative bank, the same spirit will be pursued in the DRC where we will use digital solutions to support our traditional banking model. We have a banking network of over 254 branches, over 550 ATMs and over 6,000 points of sale (POS) in Tanzania and we are working to build a similarly strong network in the DRC. 

Given the trend towards mobile payment systems, do you have a solution for your customers? 

Indeed, we have a robust mobile banking application, Simbanking, which has been recognised worldwide as an innovative platform. We will be working continuously with mobile network operators, service providers and public sector players on a digital transformation that will make payments easier and more available through the use of our mobile application. 

Located in a province dominated by mining, do you have a range of products adapted to the mining sector? 

We are currently assessing the needs of some of our mining partners and working together to develop tailored solutions. In particular, they have identified financing needs that we are working on to best support their value chains. 

What credit policy has your bank adopted to meet the needs of your customers, particularly SMEs, an important factor in the DRC’s industrial development? 

We know that the challenges for many SMEs are formalisation, the absence or weakness of guarantees, working with partner DFIs to create good guarantee systems that will enable us to integrate this important segment. 

Secondly, we will provide training to SMEs to help them run their businesses according to good business principles that will make them ready to borrow in the future. 

Thirdly, we will focus on women and young people as unique segments of the economy where we will build their capacity and help them develop their businesses. 

Why did you decide to start your activities in Katanga when the capital of the DRC is Kinshasa? 

The Bank’s aim is to connect its customers across different geographical areas. Being the first bank in Tanzania and the fact that most businesses in the DRC use the port of Dar Es Salaam via Kasumbalesa, Haut Katanga seemed like the best starting point for our operations to support the huge volumes of trade between Tanzania and the DRC.  

What are your objectives for 2024? 

I can sum up my objectives in three points: BUILD, GROW and ACCELERATE. 

Firstly by ensuring a solid commercial base in terms of people, processes and systems, then by developing the business in terms of customer acquisition, solution deployment and finally by accelerating in terms of market penetration to gain market share. 

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