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New bank targets smes to make a difference

Interview - April 3, 2014
Banco Valor is empowering business and entrepreneurial change with vision and integrity
Angola is being transformed by rapid economic change and the world’s major corporations are beating a path to its doorstep to participate in the country’s fast growth. These corporations want and need to find there a first-world and first-class financial infrastructure corresponding to Angola’s ambitions, together with local financial institutions which will partner with them in unlocking the richness of the country’s resources. The ambition of Banco Valor is to be that link in the financial supply chain, the partner of choice for international business in Angola. 
This mission, a vision with a purpose, springs from the bank’s Executive Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, who is determined to “create something innovative and improve the current offer in Angola, helping investors make returns and helping people improve their lives through opportunity”. For Dr Sobrinho, with his track record of having taken BESA to be consistently recognised as the country’s best bank, it is through having “the best team in place” and instilling “a new wave of thinking, committed to the values of service and technological excellence” that Banco Valor will deliver on both its ambitions and the expectations of clients.
Dr Sobrinho’s involvement in Banco Valor, initially a very small operation, goes back only two years. The bank’s focus has since been clearly defined as offering superior and innovative support and service to international corporations, private banking clients and also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Dr Sobrinho emphasises that he is “absolutely passionate about supporting the growth of entrepreneurs and new...and innovative...investment” to empower meaningful change in Angola and in the region. Banco Valor is not afraid of helping to develop new ideas, frontier markets and innovative technologies that other banks might shy away from.
This openness to new ideas, new opportunities and new ventures is another key way in which Banco Valor differs from other banks in Angola. It is also part of Dr Sobrinho’s recognition that Angola is changing fast and that the country’s financial infrastructure needs not only to match the pace of change, but can and ought to be a leader in that change. It is an active participant and partner in the process by recognising, supporting and propelling forward businesses and entrepreneurs with ideas for productive investment, to create life-enhancing change within Angola and in Africa.

"We aim to influence and drive change in the banking sector"

Alvaro Sobrinho Executive Chairman of Banco Valor and President of Planet Earth Institute 

Banco Valor is a financial institution with vision, integrity and commitment. It is a bank that recognises and welcomes the challenges of change and innovation in this fast-developing continent, and one that is determined for itself, for its clients and for its people to firmly seize the opportunities in Africa today.  Alvaro Sobrinho is not a man to rest on his laurels. Having built one of Africa’s most successful banks, Banco Espirito Santo Angola (BESA), and with investments in telecoms, media, publishing and travel, not to mention an exceptional commitment to philanthropy, Dr Sobrinho is eager to turn his beliefs and passions into a force for change with a purpose: “helping people improve their lives through opportunity”. Here, he highlights what his bank, his country and the African continent have to offer
You have recently become Banco Valor’s largest shareholder. What are your plans for the bank? 

I am absolutely passionate about supporting the growth of entrepreneurs as well as investment in change and innovation and so our focus will be on growth markets and on small and medium-sized businesses, as well as on private banking. We aim to influence and drive change in the banking sector through offering superior standards, services and innovation. I believe I have the best team in place, sharing my own values and passion for service and technological excellence.
Angola has been relying on the oil sector to drive much of its development. How can the country diversify its economy and allow other key sectors to rise? 

To ensure sustainable and diversified long-term growth, a holistic business infrastructure and environment is needed, everything from lawyers to insurers and accounting firms, as well as investment from overseas in sectors such as energy, agriculture and healthcare. However, to truly join the knowledge economy and support innovation, human development is key, in particular learning in science and technology, something to which the Planet Earth Institute, of which I am co-founder and president, contributes through the PhD Centres of Excellence it is now setting up.
What does Africa offer investors? 

Africa offers a booming consumer market and an eager young workforce for productive investment. The continent combines fast growth, averaging around 6 per cent a year and higher than India, with rising incomes and spending power, as well as a burgeoning middle class and a working-age population set to double in the next quarter-century. The financial sector offers enormous potential with, in Angola for example, banking growing by 20 per cent annually, while insurers and asset managers are establishing themselves as personal and business wealth accumulation continues apace. Foreign direct investment has increased fivefold since 2000. For German investors, the clear message is that Africa, with its enormous potential, is open for business.