The New Times (Kigali)

11 November 2011

Rwanda: Equity Bank Commences Operations in Rwanda

Kenya's Equity Bank has started its operations Rwanda with four branches. The bank targets nine branches across the country by the end of this year.

Ahead of its official launch in the country, Equity opened up its main branch in Kigali at Kigali Reinsurance Plaza, and others in Muhanga, Musanze and Rubavu.

"We are commercially launching on November 22rd," Equity Bank Rwanda's Executive Director, Samuel Kirubi, told Business Times in a phone interview.

However, he declined to divulge details into the lender's operations.

It is understood that the lender is set to invest approx US$6.5million (Rwf3.8b) which is anticipated to boost lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through a new approach known as agency banking, a postal outlet contracted by a financial institution to process clients' transactions.

The bank says that the platform has been successful in Kenya.

Under this platform, rather than a branch teller, it is the owner of the retail outlet who conducts the transaction including client deposits, withdraws, and transfers of funds.

The bank plans four branches in Kigali by the end of the year.

Industry experts say Equity's entry will add value to the market through increased competition.

Equity has operations in Uganda, Southern Sudan and is expected to open shop in Tanzania. The bank becomes the third Kenyan bank to enter the Rwandan market, after KCB Rwanda and FINA Bank.

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