NMB Bank has reiterated its commitment to continue upholding gender equality in Tanzania’s banking industry as part of its commitment to support an equal and empowered economy.
Speaking during the Finance2Equal breakfast meeting organised by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the NMB Bank Chief Human Resources Officer Emmanuel Akonaay who represented the bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ruth Zaipuna said the bank has been on the fore-front and has a longstanding commitment to gender equality.
Akonaay said without gender-inclusive growth, achieving long-term economic resilience is and will remain a dream.
“Research shows that closing gender gaps can stimulate growth, strengthen macroeconomic and financial stability, and reduce income inequality. At NMB, ensuring gender balance, therefore, is a priority for us and that is why we partnered with this great initiative by IFC,” he said.
He said the bank has already made milestones in gender equality that include increasing the gender equality ration from 45 per cent women, 55 per cent men ratio in 2015, to 49 per cent women to 51 per cent men employee ratio in 2022.
“Our gender equality commitment is not only extended to internal staff. We also care about the women we serve in the market,” Akonaay said.
He said in February this year, his bank the first ever East African Bond targeting gender empowerment called Jasiri Bond that received 74.2bn/- that allows NMB to extend affordable financing for women-owned or women-controlled enterprises and/or businesses whose products or services directly impact a woman.
“To promote women involvement in agriculture, livestock keeping, mining and blue economy, NMB set aside 100bn/- special fund for Agriculture Value Chain Financing offering loans at a rate not exceeding 10 per cent per annum. We topped up the fund with a second special fund of 100bn/- currently offering loans at a rate less than 9 per cent per annum.
Akonaay said currently a large number of women do not have access to the financial system and women-owned small and medium enterprises have inadequate or no access to financial services.
“NMB is also trying to readdress this and is making concerted efforts to expand women’s access to finance, financial knowledge, and solutions such as fast loans with no collateral and products such as insurance to mitigate risks, MshikoFasta and NMB Pesa Wakala “ he added.
He added,” We have, the Jasiri proposition, which caters to different categories of women that ensures that women access financial services, get affordable convenient credit facilities plus financial literacy through exclusive Jasiri Business clubs. Our Jasiri Women proposition is helping us implement the country’s first commercial bank to implement a women-focused program. As of June 2022, NMB had provided nearly 1,483 loans worth 35bn/- to women-owned businesses across all regions”.
Earlier the IFC Tanzania Resident Representative Frank Ajilore said investing in women in terms of employment, leadership and innovation is paramount adding that women contribute to economic resilience.
“For instance in the past few years, 150 IFC banking clients found out that women Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) had a Non Performing Loans (NPLs) of 3.6 per cent compared to 4.5 per cent in the total loan portfolio. Never the less, women continue to lag behind men in tapping economic opportunities,” he said.
He said here in Tanzania, IFC invested in the first gender bond issued by NMB bank this year adding that empowering women helps to reduce the poverty gaps.
Presenting Finance2Equal Report findings, Anna Casanova the IFC Gender Specialist said that during a survey by her institution, CEOs reported that women contributed to enhanced operations and competitiveness.
“We saw a one per cent improvement in terms of gender balance from 48 per cent to 49 per cent. All the companies I spoke with were very keen to have a gender-balanced workforce,” she said.
Casanova said there has also an increase in women applying leadership position thanks to leadership training opportunities offered by various companies including NMB.