Standard Bank says it is well positioned to uplift small and medium enterprises reap the benefits from Malawi's current economic growth and positive outlook for Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at an interaction with key customers in the business and enterprise egments in Lilongwe, Standard Bank Group Head of Business Banking Andrew Robertson said current growth of the economy gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to grow their business.
"Malawi's projected growth in GDP to 4.5% is better than for most countries in the region, not least South Africa where growth is stuttering at 1% of GDP. At Standard Bank, we are a partner for growth and our teams have the right expertise to guide customers navigate any pitfalls through provision of tailored financial solutions and products," he said.
In its half-year financial and economic review Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) projected real GDP growth to pick up to 4.5 percent, up from 2.7 percent in 2016. The central bank said there are prospects of further growth of up to 5 percent in 2018 on account of a rebound in agriculture due to favorable weather.
The central bank's review cited notable expansion in construction, wholesale and retail, financial and insurance activities as key drivers of growth.
"Despite the obvious volatilities that businesses face such as interest and exchange rates here, the economic factors for Malawi at the moment seem right," said Robertson.
During his trip in Malawi, Robertson was accompanied by Standard Bank Group's Head of Credit Richard Irvine.
The two heads visited clients in Lilongwe and held team-building interactions with the Personal and Business Banking (PBB) team that is led by Dr Margaret Kubwalo-Chaika.
In her remarks, Chaika said the bank invited the two heads from headquarters to interact closely with the Malawi customers as part of strengthening relations and understanding their needs intimately.
"We are passionate about driving growth for Malawi and Africa. Reinvigorating the African business landscape, where SMEs and large corporations are competing for their fair share of the credit cake, is crucial because it creates a growing middle class with disposable income," she said.
The PBB Head thanked customers for trusting in Standard Bank as their financial partner, and said the bank would continue to cultivate closer and intimate relations aimed at moving their businesses forward.
She said following the acquisition of a new core banking system, Finacle, Standard Bank now offers unparalleled efficiency through a number of innovative digital products powered by the new banking platform. She cited Enterprise Online and Changu pa Geni as some of the services.
One of the invited customers, Chrissy Havilah thanked Standard Bank for opening its door to SME and said she looked forward to closer engagement with the bank.
"I am glad that the bank has us in mind and takes us seriously," said Havilah, a Lilongwe-based contractor and auto-parts trader.