Impact Stories

Impact Stories

Commercial Bank of Africa: From Corporate Banker to Digital Pioneer

Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), the largest privately-owned bank in East Africa has transformed its offering in the last six years, acquiring over 26 million customers. As Kenya’s most popular bank, SMEs account for 50 percent CBA’s customers and 30 percent of the bank’s overall revenues.  

With three out of every four people employed in Kenya working for SMEs and contributing to 20 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP), services the CBA provides are crucial to the sector. 

CBA introduced a real-data credit appraisal methodology, reducing the loan-processing period to two days. In addition, CBA offers a term loan that supports project financing for real estate property developers, and stock loan facility that appeals to vehicle spare-parts dealers.  

As a result of the digital revolution, CBA has the ability to offer services to meet the needs of middle and low-income consumers along with entrepreneurs. CBA created M-Pesa, a mobile payments platform and M-Shwari, a mobile savings and loan account, which gained a million customers in the first 41 days.  

“Business owners have access to a robust internet banking platform, so they can do financial transactions from their offices or in the comfort of their own homes,” said Michael Makau, Head of Business Banking and Asset Finance for CBA. 

In addition, partnership with SME Finance Forum member Strands (fintech software provider), helped businesses keep better records and gain and maintain more detailed data for credit decisions. CBA also provided its business customers with “reverse factoring,” an SME product that enables them to provide credit to SME suppliers, with no need for collateral. 

Partnerships have played an important role for CBA; as one of the founding members of the SME Finance Forum, sharing knowledge and learning from others through membership with the Forum has proved to be an important asset for the bank.  

“The knowledge we’ve gained from being a member of the SME Finance Form, and the relationships we’ve developed, particularly with fintechs, has been invaluable,” said Issac Awuondo, Group Managing Director for CBA.