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Innovative bank branches out

Article - August 5, 2014
“Our financial performance is growing; we are improving our market share and are now number two in terms of credits”. Julie Oye, General Director of BGFI Bank E.G.
JULIE OYE, GENERAL DIRECTOR OF BGFI BANK E.G.
Even though largely fueled by the oil sector, the sustained growth of Equatorial Guinea’s economy, which has increased 40-fold since the beginning of the 90s, has opened new markets for the banking sector. Like other non-oil sectors of the economy, it is still fledgling and represents only around 1% of GDP. But this also means it has a lot of potential as the once impoverished country transforms itself into a modern and diversified African power.

A leading African financial services group based in neighbouring Gabon, BGFIBank Equatorial Guinea was one of the first to set foot in Equatorial Guinea, in 2001. It contributed to creating the sector, which was practically non-
existent until the mid-90s. “The financial system is still young and underdeveloped. Largely dominated by the banking sector, it is one of the most attractive sectors for investors, and indeed large groups are looking into it,” says Julie Oye, General Director of BGFIBank in Equatorial Guinea.

The Equatoguinean branch of BGFIBank E.G. (which stands for Banque gabonaise et française international) was the third international subsidiary created by the financial group, which now operates in nine countries in Africa (Gabon, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe), as well as in France.

There are now five banks operating in Equatorial Guinea, including BGFIBank E.G. The first to open, in 1994, was the Caisse commune d’épargne et d’investissement en Guinée Equatoriale (CCEI-Bank GE), a subsidiary of the Cameroonian group Afriland First Bank. Four years later, it was joined by the Société générale de banques en Guinée équatoriale (SGBGE), a subsidiary of the French Société générale. BGFIBank E.G. entered the market in 2001, followed in 2006 by the Banco Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (Bange), the only state-owned establishment (which also has capital from the Philippines). The most recent operator, authorized in 2010, is a joint venture between Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank and the African group Ecobank.

“Our financial performance is growing; we are improving our market share and are now number two in terms of credits,” says Ms. Oye. “This performance allowed us to increase twice the share capital from 5 billion CFA francs originally to 10 billion in 2010 and 20 billion in 2013.”

BGFIBank E.G. focuses on three lines of business: financing and investment for large enterprises and public institutions, private banking for high-net individuals, and retail banking for individuals, entrepreneurs and high potential SMEs. Even though a small minority of Equatoguineans have a bank account, the dynamism of the economy means there is a lot of potential in retail. This is why BGFIBank E.G. was the first to introduce ATMs and is busy expanding its network of branches. Currently, BGFIBank E.G has branches in Malabo, Bata and Añisok, but it will soon be present in all the country’s main towns.

“We are also constantly innovating in order to improve and diversify our offer,” says Ms. Oye. “Our clients can bank online and we have introduced the Salary Card for employees of client companies who do not have a bank account. We also offer Western Union money transfer services since 2010.” Furthermore, BGFIBank E.G. is engaged in the quality certification of its international subsidiaries, including Equatorial Guinea.

Another key priority of BGFIBank E.G. is transparency and social responsibility. Indeed, it was among the first financial groups to adhere to the United Nations Global Compact initiative, which gathers businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.

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