GABORONE, Botswana, April 2020/ — Standard Chartered Bank Botswana says as a proud citizen of Botswana and an active member of the Bankers Association of Botswana it has committed its support to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Botswana. The safety, well-being and financial security, of our colleagues, clients, partners and community continues to be our primary focus.
Drawing on the experiences of our international network especially in markets where the COVID-19 outbreak took hold earlier than in Botswana, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana took early and decisive steps to prepare for the pandemic.
For our colleagues
Our team is our most valuable asset. As an essential services provider, we have seamlessly enabled our team to serve our clients. We have managed to significantly reduce the number of colleagues working at our offices and branches. We have migrated proprietary technology to duplicate our office environment to enable our colleagues to work from home.
- All staff in head office and across our branches were issued with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) ahead of the mandated movement lockdown
- A programme of continuous Health, Safety and Awareness communication has been implemented and continues to run for all staff
- We have increased the frequency of cleaning in our branches and offices
- To promote and adhere to social distancing, all our internal meetings and our interactions with our clients and investors are taking place through virtual platforms
- We implemented split working teams to reduce the chance of virus transmission amongst colleagues
- For those colleagues whose roles unavoidably require them to leave their homes – such as branch teams, Client Care Centre teams and select operations – we are providing daily transport to assist their safe travel between their homes and the office.
- 24-hour counselling support has been made available to support the mental wellbeing of our colleagues.
- The Bank continues to ensure the financial wellbeing of our team by securing the income of all colleagues including commission-based teams. No team members have been asked to leave the Bank nor do we intend to make any redundancies due to and during COVID-19.
For our clients
Our business exists to support the needs of our clients and we took immediate steps to ensure that as their financial partner we are there for them. We increased the rigour and frequency of cleaning and sanitation in our branches, our ATMs and offices. Social distancing protocols and aids were rolled out across our branches and ATMs to assist clients and colleagues maintain safe spacing. In support of the Government of Botswana’s measures and to ease the financial burden of the pandemic on our clients, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana has introduced the following relief measures to eligible clients whose income has been or will be directly impacted by the pandemic;
For Retail Banking clients
A 3-month repayment holiday or an extension of Loan tenure by up to 12 months is available on Personal, Auto and Home Loans for eligible clients. Clients with outstanding balances on credit cards, can apply for a 3-month repayment holiday on the minimum amount payment or can evoke the option to convert their outstanding credit card balance into a personal loan. As movement is currently restricted we have taken the Bank to our clients through our award-winning digital platforms; Online and through the SC Mobile App. Existing and potential clients can open new accounts from their smartphones in 15 minutes without the need to visit a bank branch. As part of the financial relief to our clients, we have reduced digital banking fees by 25% and we have also waived the charges on transfers between Standard Chartered Accounts on digital channels, utility payments made on our digital channels and on Bank2wallets transfers to Orange Money and BTC Smega wallets.
A 3-month repayment holiday or an extension of Loan tenure by up to 12 months is available on SME Loans for eligible clients. In addition, we will provide our clients with an option to service on the interest portion of their SME loan for 3 months. Overdraft facilities will remain available. We encourage our SME and Corporate clients to sign up for our market-leading Straight2Bank digital platform. We have extended a 25% reduction on Fund transfers made through the platform.
We remain open for business and continue to extend banking services including new loan requests to our Corporate clients during this period. We have also engaged our clients across our Corporate portfolios to understand how we can provide support under the current challenging environment and we have developed customised relief measures to respond to these needs ranging from repayment holidays from 3 to 6 months on existing facilities and also tenure extensions for upcoming maturities. We continue to engage with our clients to ensure that in this rapidly changing environment, our support is immediate and impactful.
All clients that would like to enquire about the Relief Measures for all business segments may contact our 24-hour Client Care Centre on 361 5800 or their respective Relationship Managers.
For our community
Along with all Batswana, we are keen to do what we can to support the joint national effort to ensure that our country remains resilient through the pandemic and will emerge from the same as soon as is safely possible. Standard Chartered Bank Botswana has been evaluating with our partners different opportunities within our community for where our support can make an immediate and significant impact and will be communicating more on this in due course.
Standard Chartered globally, has made USD 1 billion in financing available for companies that provide goods and services to help the fight against COVID-19, and those planning the switch into making products that are in high demand to fight the global pandemic. Goods in scope include ventilators, face masks, protective equipment, sanitisers and other consumables. We are reaching out to Botswana-based companies that qualify for this fund to offer the necessary support.
Speaking on the Bank’s response to the pandemic, Standard Chartered Botswana’s CEO, Mpho Masupe encouraged everyone to work together to see the nation through the pandemic; “ We would like to reiterate that we are in this together with our colleagues, clients and the community, though these are challenging times, we encourage all Batswana and residents in Botswana to adhere to the protocols set out by the Government. Our collective discipline will ensure that we minimise the health impact to our country and allow us to return back from restrictions as soon as possible.”