GABORONE, Botswana, April 2020/ — It is rare that any single event impacts virtually every citizen whether through business or personal finances, worldwide. However, as COVID-19 continues its rapid spread, households, small businesses and entrepreneurs alike are scrambling to make ends meet. This week the Executive seeks to unpack how Stanbic Bank Botswana is playing its part in supporting its customers during these trying times with the Bank’s Head of Personal and Business Banking, Mr. Chiko Manokore.
In times of extreme social distancing, what are some of the channels available in which one can do their banking without physically being at the bank?
The coronavirus outbreak and resulting restrictions on daily life are highlighting the importance of digital platforms and as Stanbic Bank Botswana we have a number of channels that ensure our clients have access to safer as well as convenient platforms to bank. These are;
- Enterprise Online for small medium enterprises,
- Online banking for individuals.
- Mobile Banking
- App and Online Banking
The above digital platforms enable customers to perform almost all transactions which would be done in a branch. It is in fact cheaper to make use of our digital channels than it is to visit a branch right now. This is because some of our digital platforms are free, and others have been discounted by a further 25% for the next 3 months (effective 1 April 2020).
The Bank also provides its customers with Instant Money. Instant Money is a card-less money transfer solution that is an affordable, safe, and reliable way to send money to anyone with a cellphone number in Botswana using Mobile Banking, Online banking and Enterprise Online. With Instant Money one can send up to P10,000 to anyone, even if they do not have a bank account. Redeemable at any Stanbic Bank Botswana ATM countrywide.
Clients are still able to engage and speak to a Business banker, and our Customer Contact Centre is ready to serve our customers, now with extended hours. Our relationship managed clients in Commercial banking and Corporate and Investment banking have cell-phone numbers of their Relationship Managers who are working from home and have capability to fulfil clients requests.
What offerings are in place right now to help ease financial weight faced by clients?
In light of the growing uncertainty following the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), as Stanbic Bank Botswana we will offer relief to our Small Medium Enterprise (SME) banking clients by providing them with a three-month payment holiday, effective April 2020. The relief will be applicable to small and medium businesses.
We also promote the use of the Bank’s digital platforms for transacting customers. Some of our digital platforms are free, and others have been discounted by a further 35% for the next 3 months.
What are the features of the Stanbic Bank Botswana payment holiday?
The Stanbic Bank Botswana payment holiday is the Bank’s response to the unfolding Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This relief is only applicable to small businesses with a turnover of less P10 million and in good financial standing. The cover includes the following features:
- Loan installment repayment holiday for a period of 6 months starting April 2020 to September 2020
- No impact to client in terms of extra fees, it is an extension of client loan tenor by 6 months
- Client pricing remains unchanged, not to be charged penalty interest during the repayment holiday period
- The bank requests clients to avail insurance premium where applicable to ensure the facility and asset continue being covered.
This will afford clients an increased tenor (loan term), equivalent to the payment holiday to ensure they pay the same instalment and are not left with added financial strain post the payment holiday.
Are there any short-term funding options available out there for businesses?
It must be emphasised that the bank is open for business and we continue to support all our clients, from Personal Banking, to Enterprise Banking, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking.
Funding options include:
- Purchase order financing, invoice discounting, performance bonds and guarantees
- working capital, overdrafts
- Personal loans, Home Loans, vehicle loans and credit card.
- What advice do you have to small business owners who have had to close their businesses due to COVID-19?
My advice would be that, the Bank is open to assist you during this difficult time. Just pick up the phone, email us or visit any branch. Use this period to be creative and reinvent your company. The world as we know it will be very different post-COVID19, your customers will demand different things and when things return to normal will you be ahead of or behind the market in terms of how consumers will behave. Digital and virtual trends for example are likely to be the new way of doing business, how digital are you?
- Manage your expenditure wisely and spend only on critical expenses that will keep your business functional after the pandemic.
- New markets and opportunities – are you with a bank that can introduce you to new reputable suppliers in other African countries and China. We can assist you.
- Remain informed and engage with both the government and private sector on the various initiatives in the market that can assist you, your employees and your business .
- Assess where maybe your business may have fallen short and learn from other businesses that stayed afloat. Start a new business continuity plan.
- It is important to network through the various digital networks available today, for example LinkedIn.
- How can small business owners position themselves for a successful long-term recovery?
- Continuous innovation, continue learning despite these challenging times. Learn new skills and think beyond your immediate environment.
- Explore new markets, you should not be limited by the radius of your country – the world is your market,
- Discover more streams of revenue – diversification,
- Improve on your business acumen,
- Work on a savings culture,
- Refine your succession planning. Who will lead when you no longer can, or how do you continue injecting fresh ideas?