Crane Bank is Uganda’s largest locally owned commercial bank and part of the Ruparelia Group of Companies, which works in different sectors such as insurance, hospitality, education, media, horticulture, property ownership and management. Managing Director Edigold Monday explains the potential it sees in Rwanda, the ease with which it set up operations in the country, and how Crane Bank Rwanda differentiates itself from the competition.
Africa is becoming a more and more attractive investment destination for both developed and emerging economies; what is attracting this international attention?
The attention has always been on the African continent. What is changing is the direction it has taken to improve the investment environment. Africa has long been known for supplying raw materials to a number of developed countries. The awareness that Africa is a sleeping giant has gained momentum in the recent past and investors have increased their appreciation for the fact that Africa potentially offers maximum financial returns.
Africa is no longer seen as an outflow of resources, but a humongous market to tap into. Our commitment to education has resulted in an improvement in technical skills and knowledge.
On the other side, I believe that the good side of our continent is not yet well defined and most of the time it is improperly communicated. To maximize the impact of this pending capacity, we must develop our raw resource outputs. We must educate our workforce to become knowledge based. Since our countries are still emerging, there is a great amount of value-addition opportunities as we rely upon cross-sectorial investment to grow.
Maurice K. Toroitich, Chairman of the Bankers Association, told The Worldfolio that the private sector is a lot more agile in seeking to take advantage of the integration agenda and governments are still trying to catch up. What is your assessment on his view?
Decision-making in the private sector is very swift and responsive to changes that augment development. We aim at enhancing business development, developing shareholder value and ameliorating monetary returns. As profit-orientated organizations, when we see opportunities we go for them, and ride on the right business environment.
On the side of Crane Bank, our shareholders’ vision is to grow into one of the leading regional financial institutions with the ability and capacity to provide tailored value-adding solutions to address our customers’ ever-changing financial needs and challenges. We are following the regional integration resolutions and we are practically a step ahead in implementation.
Rwanda, being the second-easiest country in Africa to conduct business in, the promoters of the bank felt it worthwhile to set up their first subsidiary outside Uganda here. Their vision is to penetrate the rest of the East African countries. And after that, who knows?
How was your arrival in Rwanda and what were the main reasons for entering this market?
It is easy to do business in Rwanda. The Rwandan system is well structured and transparent. The vision of the country is clear and the next steps are clear. We know what to do, where to go and what to expect. Rwanda is one of the fastest growing African countries and it is only befitting to take advantage of opportunities that come with the growth.
Rwanda has risen from its ashes to gain visibility on the world stage. There is strong governance and a motivated population. Everyone here is working together towards the betterment of the nation and its greatness lies in making things work.
As a businesswoman, Rwanda’s see-through vision and its effective structure make it hugely attractive. The one-stop center at RDB made it easy for us to obtain all the required documentation to settle – from visa requirements to work permit accreditation. We didn’t lose time queuing up. The landing was very easy for us.
With your vast experience in Uganda’s financial sector, how would you describe Rwanda’s financial system?
The financial support systems including but not limited to the guidance of the Central Bank, the legal system, mortgage registration and execution processes are all well structured and clear. With the good will of the government I believe the business environment will only get better and better by day.
How do you take advantage of the synergies with your parent company?
There are lots of synergies between Crane Bank Rwanda and the Group, ranging from business to supporting systems. Currently the bank occupies the premises that are partly owned by the promoters of the Ruparelia Group of Companies. In terms of training we have benefited from the experience of our parent company. Even though our structures are currently different, we proudly work hand in hand to assimilate the assets brought about by our holding group.
Crane Bank Rwanda is not completely new to the minds of those who have connections with Uganda in terms of business and other relations because the parent bank – Crane Bank Uganda Limited – has been in existence since 1995.
Crane Bank is proud to bring to Rwanda’s market a taste of innovation and tailor-made products. You said, your “cutting edge will be in how to provide service to our customers with flexibility and innovation”. What innovations are you bringing to the Rwandan market?
At Crane Bank Rwanda, we go an extra mile to understand our clients’ needs and serve them with flexibility without losing sight of risk management. We have a number of products that give Rwandans a different feel of what a bank can do. For instance, we have a current account that gives interest to the holders. Most people think that only saving accounts can earn interest rates. The interest paid on the current account is a give-and-take business reward.
In terms of flexibility, we restrain from having a one-size-fits-all policy. If we do not have the perfect product, we study the possibilities and decide upon instantaneous implementation so long as it makes business sense to us. We never say no until it is a clear no! This flexibility is our strength. We give options and discuss their benefits. We aid our clients to make good choices when it comes to which product or facility structure suits their businesses best.
The banking sector has the particularity of creating a trust-based relationship between the company and its clients. What confidence message would you like to send to Rwandans with regards to Crane Bank?
Banking becomes personal. If you have been in a bank for years, you have naturally created a long-term relationship based on trust. However, the fact that we have successfully penetrated this market, the fact that we have invested time and money in our operations, shows that we have a commitment towards Rwanda. So what I can say is: come and try our service! We are committed to giving Rwandans a memorable banking experience and the best customer service. It is never easy for starters, but I know that there is room for Crane Bank.
Crane Bank Uganda has been awarded the Bank of the Year award for the 10th time in 2015, was awarded “The Trade Award 2015” or The East Africa Responsible Business Award 2015, and The Consumers Preference Award 2015. How do you work in order to strive for excellence in Rwanda?
We offer the same excellent service that has been delivered in Uganda. We have constructed similar business structures and have devoted an equal commitment to enhancing IT development. We also use the same branding strategy. Our customers are happy with our excellent service and are our ambassadors out there. It is a matter of time and we shall be able to get where we want to be.
Crane Bank proudly invites its customers to “meet a brighter tomorrow.” How do you envision Crane Bank Rwanda by 2020?
By 2020, we will have expanded our branch network. We are looking at adding 10 to 15 new branches in order to spread out through Rwanda. We now have two branches and planning to establish a third one out of Kigali.
You were the first Ugandan female managing director of a commercial bank and the first female managing director of a commercial bank in Rwanda. What is your message to other women in the continent?
In order to be believed by the others, you must believe in yourself and be strict and serious about improving yourself to get the right skills for your dream job. I am a Chartered Accountant and have Masters in Business Administration and many other useful certificates that improved my mental capabilities to lead and manage. It has not been an easy journey though, especially when you find yourself in boardrooms that are male-dominated. But once you are able to disregard all the demotivators and overcome all distractions, the sky can only be the known limit. Women should use their multitasking skills to become great leaders.
So my message to women is: believe in yourself and appreciate yourself. Don’t fear challenges! Tackle life head on and don’t be scared of responsibilities!