The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Equity Bank Reports Rwf292 Million Loss

Equity Bank Rwanda recorded a loss of Rwf292 million in the first three months of operations in the country amidst high operating expenses and start up costs.

The Bank's operating costs rose faster than its revenues as expenses reached Rwf557 million against a total operating income of Rwf141 million, the lender said in its audited financial results for the period ended December 31, 2011.

The lender, a subsidiary of Kenya's Equity Group, began operations in Rwanda in the last quarter of last year, increasing competition in the country's banking sector. Industry experts cite innovation as a key driver of growth in the sector.

Equity Bank Rwanda has seen its assets reach Rwf8.9 billion with customer deposits and balances due from banking institutions abroad hitting Rwf1.6 billion while its loan book grew to Rwf305 million.

Meanwhile, last week Equity Bank Group reported a sharp rise in its earnings before tax for the first three months of this year on account of focus on product development as well as credit and risk management.

According to the Group's unaudited financial results, its profit before tax rose by 29 per cent to Kshs3.73 billion (Rwf27 billion) from January to March up from Kshs2.9 billion (Rwf21 billion) in the same period last year.

The Group's total income rose by 38 per cent to Kshs9 billion (Rwf65 billion), thanks to prudent cost and risk management amidst Kenya's economic turbulence characterised by rising inflation and high interest rates.

Equity Bank Group CEO and Managing Director, Dr James Mwangi, said the Bank is modelled around sound management and corporate governance structures which have helped cushion it against risks inherent in the market today.

"The unique business model has proven resilient to the challenging economic environment,

The awarding of Equity Bank AA- credit rating and the continued good performance has enabled the institution to attract long term funds from international lenders, which are invested in projects that uplift the lives of the people of the region and at very competitive rates," he said.

Mwangi said huge investments in technology and investment in alternative delivery channels such as agents have improved access to banking and increased cost efficiencies.

Early this year, the Bank opened branches in Dar es Salaam and Arusha, Tanzania, as part of its regional expansion strategy and diversification.

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