Bank of Kigali, Rwanda’s largest lender by market share and profitability is pledging to drive the sector through building growth on a foundation of technology and innovation over the next fifty years.
The objective of this new orientation, according to Chief Executive Officer Dr. Diane Karusisi, is to preserve the bank’s relevance in the economy by continuing to transform the lives of Rwandans over the next fifty years.
“We intend to do this by predicting our customer needs and moving fast to innovate and deliver services and products that respond to their needs,” she said.
Earlier this year, the Bank unveiled two new subsidiaries; BK General Insurance and BK TecHouse, with the latter expected to help Bank of Kigali keep up with technology by being the engine of innovation. The involvement in the insurance business is a development that may have surprised many, but its objective is in line with growing the bank into a one-stop centre for financial services.
Recently, the bank opened a state of the art Digital Service Centre at Kigali Heights, a paperless branch aimed at giving the bank’s customers a sneak peek into the future.
“Technology is disrupting every business and banking is no exception; digital innovation is changing the way customers consume banking services, it is therefore important that we keep up with the pace of change,” she said.
On December 22, 2016, ‘Beka’ as it is fondly known among Rwandans marked 50 years since its incorporation on December 22, 1966; the milestone was later celebrated at a colorful dinner graced by President Paul Kagame. In his remarks, President Kagame challenged the bank to put people at the centre of its innovations so as to transform the lives of Rwandans.
It is a message that will shape the bank’s strategy as it sets out on a journey to a century. Bank of Kigali was founded as a joint venture between the government of Rwanda and Belgolaise, with each owning 50 percent of the ordinary share capital.
In 1967, the bank commenced its operations with its first branch in Kigali. Belgolaise was a subsidiary of Fortis Bank which was then operating in Sub-Saharan Africa; but in the year 2005, they began to withdraw from their operations on the continent, momentarily leaving BK’s future in balance.
In a move aimed at restoring confidence among customers and securing the stability of the financial sector, the government of Rwanda in 2007 acquired the Belgolaise shareholding in Bank of Kigali, thereby increasing its direct and indirect shareholding in the Bank to 100 percent.
In September 2011, the bank listed on the Rwanda Stock Exchange becoming the first indigenous bank to do so; six years later, the bank’s share price has remained stable and among the most highly sought after on the local bourse.
It has been a roller coaster for Bank of Kigali, registering growth on growth, becoming Rwanda’s largest bank across all key indices. In 2010 alone, the bank opened 12 new branches and service centers. The following year, the bank opened another dozen branches; in 2012, the bank opened another 11 branches making it 34 branches in just three years.
Today, the bank boasts of 80 branches across the country, close to 100 ATMs, 1200 agents and six mobile banking vans and it employs over 1200 workers. Today, Bank of Kigali is regarded as Rwanda’s dominant financial institution with a market share of 34 percent across all major indices as of March 31, 2017. This means that the bank contributes the bulk of banking sector’s 19 percent contribution to the national GDP.
“We are proud of the Bank’s success and the strong bond we have developed with all our key stakeholders in the last five decades; we want to consolidate that while harnessing today’s opportunities to secure future growth,” said Karusisi.
Read this article and more in issue n° 78 of Hope Magazine.