The church-backed Caritas Microfinance Bank (Caritas MFB) has launched operations with a capital of Sh500 million.
Caritas, whose key shareholders are various institutions in the Catholic Church, was granted a nationwide licence by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in June 2015 becoming the twelfth microfinance bank in Kenya.
On Thursday, executives speaking during its official launch said the micro lender will leverage on the massive church membership network to drive growth besides roping in additional customers dissatisfied with existing banks.
"One of the biggest advantages we have is as Caritas micro finance bank we have a constituent platform because the Catholic Church has been a major success in the institutions that it works for," said Caritas chief executive George Maina.
"Look at the hospitals, the schools, there is an insurance company and now the bank will be a key player. So we have a primary market so to speak and we call them the low hanging fruits that we want to take."
Caritas MFB which has two branches in Nairobi's Central Business District, has so far registered close to 10,000 customers who have opened both current and saving accounts.
Mr Maina said the bank plans to open 12 more braches in the next three years, with five of the branches lined up across Kenya this year. He said the lender will also capitalize on mobile and agency banking platforms.