Equity Bank wins Global SME bank award

November 26, 2020

Equity Bank aims at empowering small and medium sized businesses in East Africa by increasing their access to credit and financial services. This week, Equity Bank won the 2020 SME Bank of the year at the Global SME Finance Award.

Lack of access to finance is regarded as the most important constraint to the development of businesses in low income countries.

With over 14.2 million customers, the Equity Group is one of the biggest banks in East and Central Africa. The bank operates in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, DRC Congo and Ethiopia.

Equity Bank has, through its products and services, continued to empower small and medium sized businesses and has transformed them into instruments of driving value across the society

james Mwangi, ceo equity group

The SME business forms the spine of Equity Group’s business portfolio. By the end of 2019, SMEs accounted for more than 60% of Equity’s loan and 78% of total deposits.

On the 23rd of November, Equity won the 2020 SME Bank of the Year at the Global SME Finance Awards. The award is managed by World Bank’s IFC and recognises outstanding achievements of financial institutions and fintech companies in delivering exceptional products and services to their SME clients.

Equity Bank loans enabled Florence to flee poverty and start a profitable business

Without loans from Equity Bank, Florence Wanjiru Kirika wouldn’t have been able to start her local business in Kenya.

Some years ago, Florence Wanjiru Kirika was a poor, young widow left alone with two schoolchildren. Paying school fees was a struggle every month. Florence owned a plot of land and her dream was to build a house with rooms for rent and to become self sufficient. However, with no access to capital, there was no way to get started.

Things changed the day two Equity Bank agents visited her village, stopped and listened to her dream. As a new bank client, with no business expertise, Florence got a small loan of 100.000 Kenyan shilling. She used the loan to build a small house with four rooms and installed electricity, running water and clean bathrooms and toilets. The rooms became popular and were all quickly rented out, which enabled Florence to earn enough income to pay off her first loan before the time. She was then granted new loans, and gradually she has built additional buildings with more rooms for rent.

Equity bank is a bank for those who want to work from small to big. They work with me, visit me to see how the business is going and push me up.


Today, Florence is a successful businesswomen. She has plans to expand her properties and also to build some office spaces. Paying school fees is no longer a problem.

Norfund has been invested in Equity Bank since 2014. In 2016, the investment was transferred to Arise – Norfund’s main vehicle for investments in financial institutions in Africa. In 2018, Norfund committed a additional direct loan to Equity Bank funding further growth.

Equity Group initiatives to protect medics from Covid-19

“COVID-19 has challenged the normal operations for many SMEs in Kenya and across Africa. As a leading financial institution, we remain committed to training SMEs, availing opportunities for growth and helping them recover because together, we can build a resilient economy and a greater world,” Dr. Mwangi said.

Through the Equity Group Foundation, the group has contributed to helping public hospitals and medical students during the Covid-19 pandemic. Together with Kenya COVID-19 Fund Board, the Equity Group Foundation commenced the distribution of locally manufactured personal protective equipment (PPE) to public hospitals across all 47 counties in Kenya including all final year medical and dental students. This is done as part of its sustained efforts to protect medics from the COVID-19 virus.

We saw the need to support and reinforce the efforts by the Ministry of Health and the Kenya COVID-19 Fund Board in strengthening the health response through protecting our heroes who are at the forefront of serving Kenyans.

James Mwangi, CEO equity group

“We chose to also include medical and dental final year students who are eager to complete their training be posted across the country to serve as interns where they are needed.  The PPEs donated will protect them and will also allow them to continue with their duties without worrying about their safety as they complete their noble duties.” said Dr. Mwangi.

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