SME banking: Africa’s mid-market maverick
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SME banking: Africa’s mid-market maverick

Hitesh Anadkat has spent the last 25 years building an African SME banking empire from scratch from his base in the Malawian city of Blantyre. His FMB Capital Group now also has operations in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Mauritius and Botswana; and he is looking to gain market share in them all.

Hitesh Anadkat, non-executive director of FMB Capital Group

Describe Hitesh Anadkat as a banker and he flinches a little. Businessman? If you like. Entrepreneur? Certainly. But banker or chief executive? For Anadkat, that’s a stretch.

“I’ve never been a full-time executive,” says the Malawian national behind emerging southern African banking powerhouse FMB Capital Group. “I’ve never been a CEO. I spend a majority of my working time on bank practice because we’ve got so many banks now so I get involved in certain credit decisions, but I’ve always been the entrepreneur behind it. Even to this day.”

Being an entrepreneur also means having an instinct for how to seize deals that might arise in the most unlikely of places for an African businessman. Like the Spanish resort island of Tenerife.

In 2016 Anadkat was in Tenerife for a wedding, where he had a chance meeting that would lead to a deal with UK lender Barclays.

From his home in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, Anadkat had been following Barclays’ Middle Eastern travails through the 2010s, the hangover from Abu Dhabi’s controversial £3.5 billion investment in the bank in 2008. Barclays competed with Anadkat in various markets across the 16 Southern African Development Community (SADC) economies that blanket nearly half the African continent, so Anadkat had a natural brief to keep an eye on it regionally.

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