Kampala — Standard Chartered Bank has strengthened its SME banking offering for customers in Uganda and across its footprint, addressing the changing needs and growing importance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to economies.
The offering comes with new solutions such as; the business Debit Card which is a first in the Ugandan market, asset backed financing, borderless banking and Straight2Bank, an online banking platform specially tailored to the SME segment.
The bank has invested significantly in people, infrastructure and solutions - assisting SMEs in managing business volatility, while providing one-stop banking convenience and expert advice through knowledgeable relationship managers.
"In light of the changing needs of SMEs and their growing importance to the economy, we have launched a strengthened customer offering that is built around providing working capital, business expansion, business protection and yield enhancement solutions," said Herman Kasekende, the head of Consumer Banking, Standard Chartered Bank, Uganda.
Herman added that, "the SME segment has grown at almost twice the rate of GDP in most markets, and is expected to grow at 10-12% per year across our footprint in Asia, Africa and the Middle East."
"Standard Chartered's ambition is to be the leading international bank for SMEs, building the segment into a multi-billion dollar business over the next 3-4 years."
Among the other solutions unveiled to make banking easier for the SME customer was the first Business debit card in the market, the Visa Platinum Business Debit card, which unlike other debit cards will be issued off the company account, offering flexible transactional limits of up to US$50,000 and the freedom to apply for up to 5 platinum cards for top management with preset usage limits among many other unique benefits.
This convenience is further enhanced by Straight2Bank, the first online banking platform specially tailored to the needs of the SME customers and serves as a one stop shop for cash, trade, foreign exchange and other financial services through a single sign-on access.
The Bank also recently launched its Borderless Banking proposition between Kenya and Uganda. Speaking during the launch, Henry Lugemwa, General Manager, SME Banking said.
"With Borderless Banking you enjoy the convenience and efficiency of banking from your own account in both Kenya and Uganda. The services available include Cash withdrawals, Balance enquiries, Cash deposits and Statement request."
Furthermore, the Bank recognizes that access to finance is still a major challenge for SMEs due to the risks associated with many Small and Medium sized enterprises. It has now introduced asset backed financing to enable more and more SMEs access financing.
Asset backed financing will provide financing for purchases of equipment and machinery to customers.
"The Bank is committed to assisting the development of the SME sector in Uganda and is leveraging on its international network, expertise and experience as a trade finance bank to offer its SME customers in Uganda targeted products," Lamin Manjang, the chief executive officer said.
"We have consistently introduced innovative transactional products in the spirit of providing efficient, reliable and workable solutions to our SME clients."