The Africa Report

The shares his experience in helping small companies, while stressing the major work ahead in getting the country’s population banked



You can take the man out of the microfinan­ce institutio­n, but you can’t take the microfinan­cier out of the man. Celestin Mukeba Muntuabu ran the microfinan­ce bank Procredit Bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) before taking up the position of CEO of Equity Bank DRC. The subsidiary of Kenya’s Equity Bank bought a majority stake in Procredit in 2015 for $60m.

While some yearn for the glittering spires of Wall Street, Mukeba likes things a bit closer to earth. He lights up when talking about how Procredit helped firms that floated just under the criteria of the formal economy. “They don’t have solid guarantees, they are risky to bank,” he says. But they pay off handsomely when they succeed, both financiall­y andalso in terms of impact.

“We had experts who go to evaluate these small businesses, look at their profitabil­ity and then accompany them into the formal economy,” Mukeba explains about his time at Procredit. “There are clients to whom we say: ‘Buy a notepad. Every time you make a purchase for the business, write it down. Every time you make a sale, write it down.’” start of [Equity Bank], we are able to do credit scoring and risk appraisal for a far greater number of clients,” says Mukeba. More than 90% of credit approvals now take place through its digital platforms.

Equity Bank’s ambition, says Mukeba, is to be among the biggest players in the markets where it operates. Managers see the DRC as a leading economy in the region, given its size and population. So Equity Bank has prioritise­d acquisitio­ns in the DRC over other mooted expansions. In June, Equity Bank cancelled its talks to purchase Atlas Mara’s banking operations in Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. This was due, in part, to ongoing concerns about


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