Africa’s best bank for SMEs 2021: Equity Bank
East African banks have led the way in SME financing in Africa and none more so than Equity Bank. Nigerian banks often struggle to get to a double-digit percentage allocation of their loan books to SMEs. That’s partly due to a less diversified, oil-dependent economy. But even by east African standards, Equity Bank is impressive. Most of its loan book (54%) is with SME clients.
Despite the heavy impact of Covid-19 on SMEs, under chief executive James Mwangi, Equity Bank has continued to support its clients, growing lending by 30% to $4.8 billion in 2020.
Lately, Equity Bank’s SME lending has focused on unsecured working capital financing, with a specific focus on supply chain financing in agriculture, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer foods and healthcare. It has also continued to access credit-risk guarantees as well as senior and subordinated funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and development finance institutions in Europe – arrangements specifically designed for SMEs, including female entrepreneurs and agricultural value chains.