Steward Bank scoops top Financial Inclusion Award
Steward Bank, Zimbabwe’s largest bank by depositors, bagged the Financial Inclusion Award at the 2023 Zimbabwe Independent Banks & Banking Survey Awards ceremony held in Harare last week.
The award recognises Steward Bank’s innovative strategy to open up new ground among the unbanked, leveraging its digital accounts opening platform, which saw it open 130 000 accounts during the period under review.
The bank, with over 1,3 million depositors, has been at the forefront of driving financial inclusion in Zimbabwe, with a focus on providing affordable and accessible banking services. According to the survey, run by the Zimbabwe Independent, in partnership with First Capital Bank, Steward Bank’s contribution to the National Financial Inclusion Strategy was significant.
“The bank also partnered with solar energy providers for solar financing with the mandate being to address the UN sustainable Goal Number 7, which seeks to provide affordable and reliable clean energy to society,” read part of the award citation.
“Driven to achieve financial inclusion of SMEs, the bank rolled out various products to cater to their needs, which led to a proportionate part of its loan book being directed to SMEs. From a digital credit access perspective, more than 900 000 loans were disbursed through Kashagi digital loans platform, with a third of the loans being availed to women.”
Steward Bank offers a wide range of products and services that meet the needs of diverse customers, regardless of their income or location. The bank has a network of mobile banking agents across the country, making it easy for people to open bank accounts and access financial services, even in the most remote areas of the country.
In addition, Steward Bank has partnered with a variety of organisations to promote financial literacy and education among low-income and marginalised groups. The bank also offers a range of affordable banking products, such as low-maintenance accounts and low-interest loans, to make banking more accessible to everyone.
Courage Mashavave, Steward Bank’s chief executive officer, said the financial institution was honoured to receive the Financial Inclusion Award.
“This award demonstrates our commitment to making banking more accessible and affordable for everyone in Zimbabwe. We are passionate about financial inclusion and believe that it is essential for the economic growth and development of the country,” he said.
Financial inclusion is a key component of social inclusion. The World Bank Finance Index estimates that about a quarter of adults worldwide lack access to formal banking and financial services.
Through Steward Bank’s digital banking model, customers are able to use their mobile phones to open an account and access a wide array of banking services.
In its 2023 Annual Report, Steward Bank noted that increasing account ownership through its digital onboard platform directly contributed to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 5 on achieving gender equality and economic empowerment of women.
“The bank also actively supports Micro, Small to Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The MSME sector plays a significant role in the Zimbabwean economy and the Bank actively supports this critical customer segment through its SME & Business Banking solutions,” said the bank.