A company that incites financial innovation and socioeconomic development, Barclays Bank Tanzania is gearing up for a new, exciting chapter in its already illustrious history
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Sam Love
The 1990s will go down as a crucial decade in Tanzanian history.
A 10-year period characterised by political, social and economic transformation, it witnessed the country’s first successful multi-party election in 1995 and the signing of the progressive East African Community Treaty in 1999 – a cooperative commercial and political agreement between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
The Tanzanian banking sector also embarked on a major plan for financial liberalisation at this time, part of a country-wide effort to sustain positive economic growth.
Through the mobilisation of financial resources and bolstered competition this was achieved, facilitating greater freedoms amongst domestic banks and welcoming international players that helped to improve the availability of financial services and the quality of existing services.
One such enterprise that has risen to the fore as a result is Barclays Bank Tanzania – a firm that has thrived since establishing a national footprint at the turn of the millennium.
“The banking industry continues to undergo significant transformation in Tanzania and across the region, driven to a large extent by changing customer demographics, technological advancements and innovation,” explains Abdi Mohamed, the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer.
“It’s critical to the growth of the economy, playing a pivotal role in supporting the government’s growth agenda.”
A fully-fledged commercial bank serving the retail, business and corporate segments, Barclays has become a spearhead of the progressions that Mohamed refers to. Offering a full suite of deposit and lending products targeted to all key sectors of the economy, the business is well represented across the country with a network of 15 branches and an ATM network of 62.
“We’re proud of our relentless focus on customers, competitive products, digital channels and our talented and diverse workforce,” Mohamed adds.
The latter of these core focus areas has proven to be crucial to the success of Barclays Tanzania.
The company pays particular attention to its employment, training and talent retention strategies, evidenced by its emphasis on providing young people with opportunities.
“Young people bring special qualities that enhance diversity in the workplace,” explains Mohamed. “They’re often brave, passionate and ready to take on new challenges and inject new ideas – qualities which are critical in finding solutions to today’s problems.
“They tend to learn more quickly and have the ability to adapt to change. It is this knack for self-learning and adaptability that we look to explore with the vision of developing great leaders of tomorrow.”
These attitudes bode well with its citizenship agenda that again seeks to develop local talent. The company ensures it provides an abundance of opportunities to its workforce, recognising the importance of keeping its skilled staff energised and happy.
To this end, the firm has developed a three-stage strategy of hiring, developing and holding onto its best workers.
“This people-centric plan includes a multitude of elements,” Mohamed explains.
“We pay for performance and provide long term incentives for select organisational leaders over a three-year period, owed to the belief that exceptional staff contribute significantly to our business outcomes. We also consistently benchmark our offerings against the rest of the market, uphold employee engagement to the highest of standards and promote diversity wherever possible.”
The mention of diversity leads the CEO to highlight the firm’s empowerment ethos, the company having developed tailored programmes that support up and coming female leaders and running training partnerships with external entities such as Duke University and the International Institute for Management Development.
This responsible, progressive, conscious approach to development does not only apply internally, however.
Equally, Barclays Tanzania is positioned as an active force for good, viewing citizenship as a fundamental part of its overall strategy.
“We’re all about bringing possibilities to life as we support initiatives that help upskill, empower people and play a part in changing, developing and solving communities’ challenges,” Mohamed explains.
These efforts fall under a series of distinct citizenship pillars, the first being enterprise development.
The CEO reveals: “We have empowered 810 youth living with and affected by HIV/AIDS by upskilling and training them on entrepreneurship skills. Further, more than 600 young people have benefitted from entrepreneurial skills projects via our incubation and acceleration initiatives.”
The company’s education efforts are similarly extensive, having sponsored 25 students for their undergraduate studies at the University of Dar es Salaam and Tanzania Institute of Accountancy.
“400 graduates have also been trained on work skills under our placement programmes, and we’ve helped to empower more than 5,000 young people through our ReadytoWork programme,” Mohamed adds.
In total, Barclays Tanzania has invested more than a billion Tanzanian shillings ($440,000) in social upliftment efforts over the past four years, be it on donations, education skills, natural disasters, enterprise development and/or financial skills.
Additionally, 95 percent of its staff have taken time to share their skills and support communities, particularly hospitals, orphans and other disadvantage children.
“We take these commitments very seriously, ensuring that we make a difference in people’s lives,” the Chief Executive reiterates.
Corporate social responsibility aside, the company’s investments extend into a variety of other areas as it seeks to bolster not only surrounding communities but equally its own offerings.
Digitisation, for example, is a core part of the firm’s agenda across all business segments right now.
“With the future of banks being digital, we have to give our customers products and services that speak to that,” Mohamed reveals. “Within the next six months, you can expect to see a lot of exciting innovations become part of our portfolio.”
A major rebrand is also underway for Barclays Tanzania as it gears up to incorporate the name of its parent company, Absa Group Limited.
“This is very high on our list of priorities,” Mohamed affirms, stating that Absa’s warm, vibrant red colour palette will soon be appearing across its branches and ATMs during the remainder of 2019 and beyond. “The process is subject to regulatory approvals and we thank our regulators for the ongoing support.
“It’s a deliberate move from Absa Group to rebrand all its operations to Absa, as was announced in July 2018. Our legacy will serve us well for the future, and as we enter a new era, you can expect to see the energy and the vibrancy of the Absa brand taking us to new levels.”
This rebrand and digital drive combined, the CEO and Barclays Tanzania have every right to be optimistic for the future as the bank becomes ever-more focused on driving value
for an ever-widening customer base.
Mohamed concludes, once again highlighting the positive climate that is facilitating the firm’s continual transformation: “We’ve seen an increase in industry profitability over the last couple of years, and the overall outlook remains positive.
“GDP growth rates, inflation and foreign exchange rates all remain within the target range, and the economy is well diversified with a debt to GDP ratio that is within expectations.
“We’re certainly excited about the direction of both country and company as we prepare for an incredible journey of brand transformation.”