Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (SBU) recently announced its half-year results, where it is indicated that the bank offered credit relief to over 1,600 clients across business sectors. The bank has over 40,000 SME clients, and over 60% of its loan portfolio was restructured to provide financial relief to SMEs. The COVID-19 Business Info Hub interviewed Stephen Segujja, Head of Enterprise Banking, to understand the bank’s response to the SME sector.

 

How has Stanbic Bank responded to the needs of the SME segment during the pandemic?

Apart from loan restructuring, we have also started a program to support SMEs by providing financing to them to kick start the economy. This initiative is based on the fact that the economy has opened up and the bank is more than willing to support key sectors to drive growth. We have also reduced our prime lending rate to 16% on top of waiving loan facility fees and ensuring a guaranteed response time of 3 days once SME clients apply for facilities.

What relief/restructuring solutions has the bank offered to its SME clients during the pandemic? 

The bank has offered relief solutions to all borrowers whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19, including customers who had exposure in our various products such as vehicle and asset financing, commercial property loans, home loans, working capital loans, import and export loans, overdrafts and all other short-term exposures. Apart from restructuring solutions, we also reached out to all our borrowers to understand their challenges, how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses and to help advise them on how to revamp their businesses. Most businesses have picked up and are running again. We also ensured our SMEs are on digital platforms to solve for cash collections and payments, which ensured continuity of business transactions for our clients.

Of the businesses that were able to restructure their loans, what has the positive impact been?

The positive impact has been on two major fronts, i.e on the customer and on the bank. From the customers’ point of view, the relief period allowed them time to rethink their businesses without the stress of loan repayments since there was no business activity ongoing but lots of lessons to learn. Our clients were able to diversify their activities, some turning to offer essential products and services during the pandemic. Adoption of robust digital solutions like online selling and delivery were especially key for restaurants and other essential businesses. From the bank’s perspective, the restructuring has enabled us to maintain a clean loan book while ensuring that our customers continue being served.

What lessons can be learned from the process?

As a bank, we have learned to be more resilient and future-ready in serving our customers. It’s important to note that digital adoption and utilization by our clients remain a key focus of the bank going forward. Further still, by being agile in terms of engaging our customers on restructures without them coming to us meant we placed the customer at the center of everything that we do.

What advice can the bank offer to SME clients to continue to thrive post COVID-19 from a financing perspective? 

Our advice to SMEs during this pandemic includes:

  • Let businesses adhere to Standard Operating Procedures and utilize our digital platforms going forward. It is cheap, easy and convenient. These platforms include; Mobile Banking *290#Internet Banking, Business Online, Enterprise Online, Agent BankingATMsCash Deposit MachinesPoint of Sale Machine/Card MachineFlexipayand the Stanbic App.
  • All SMEs should spare some time to attend the various knowledge series run through the webinars especially through our Stanbic Business Hub and the Business Incubator since there is a lot to learn.
  • Business diversification is key to reduce risk; for instance, if a given sector is closed due to a pandemic, then it is easier to keep afloat if another line of business is open.
  • Keeping in touch with Relationship Managers to enable them to understand customer needs is also important for customers to received effective financing.

How can businesses get in touch with Stanbic Bank?

To restructure an existing loan, call your Relationship Manager or Business Banker, or connect with us at 0312226600 or via email at enterprisedirectug@stanbic.com. We also have our social media platforms open – Twitter  (https://twitter.com/StanbicUG), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/StanbicUg) and blog (https://blog.standardbank.com/uganda) and  website www.stanbicbankuganda.com. We can also be reached 24 hours a day at our toll-free line: 0800250250. Most branches remain open and are operating from 9am to 3pm, Monday through Saturday.