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Ecobank Group wins ‘2021 African SME Bank of the Year’ award

Ecobank helped SMEs manage their loan repayments. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

The Ecobank Group has won 2021 African SME Bank of the Year award, for its significant contribution to the development of the SME sector during the coronavirus outbreak last year

Ecobank beat a host of other banks at the African Banker Awards 2021, to take home the SME Award, for performing exceptionally in a tumultuous year characterised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The African SME Bank of the Year award 2021 recognises the bank which has significantly contributed to the development of the SME sector, and has helped to build the economic backbone of the continent. Part of the entry criteria is the significant investment by the banks in Africa's private sector, facilitating credit and access to finance for SMEs.

Since the onset of Covid-19, the Ecobank Group has ramped up investments in programmes targeting SMEs by expanding SME-focused lines of credit, providing technical assistance to SME development institutions and building SMEs’ capacity via linkage programmes in partnership with its strategic partners. The Group has been at the forefront of promoting gender inclusion and closing the gender finance gap through innovative initiatives such as ‘Ellevate by Ecobank’ that targets women-led and women-focused businesses across the continent.

Ecobank Group executive, commercial banking, Josephine Ankomah, said, “2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. It required resilience and innovation. We needed to rethink our business and provide innovative ways to assist our SME customers to help them to survive the difficulties brought about by the pandemic. We are truly honoured to receive this recognition. Our immense gratitude goes to our staff, customers and partners who have made this possible.”

Ecobank helped provide with tenor extensions and moratoriums on interest, to assist SMEs manage their loan repayments; increased the utilisation of digital channels, such as Ecobank Omni Lite, to allow customers to make payments remotely and upskilled staff to help develop the SME sector. 

The bank collaborated with existing risk sharing partners, particularly Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), to share a portion of the risk associated with lending to the SME sector, and partnered with Google to provide SME customers the means to develop a free online presence. The bank’s collaboration with African Union’s Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and assist their recovery, was seconded by the launch of the ‘Ellevate by Ecobank’, an initiative to provide women with an end-to-end partnership, and access to financial education, product information, networking and recognition.

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