Steward Bank injects US$10,5 million into agric sector
STEWARD Bank, a subsidiary of EcoCash Holdings, in its 2023 financial year advanced a total of US$10,5 million and $2,7 billion to the agricultural sector to support cotton growing, wheat, soya beans, horticulture and poultry.
In its 2023 annual report released recently, the bank said according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Agriculture contributes approximately 17 percent to Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product.(GDP)
The bank’s support to this sector contributes directly to the Sustainable Development Goals 2 which relates to Zero Hunger.
“For the reporting period, a total of US$10,5 million and $2,7 billion was advanced to the agricultural sector by the Bank. Key value chains supported included cotton, wheat, soya beans,horticulture and poultry.”
The report said EcoCash Holdings through its Kashagi digital credit solutions facility disbursed $2,8 billion to 903 000 individuals and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the period under review.
“Through the Kashagi digital Micro-loans, total volumes of 903 000 loans were issued in FY23 (ZWL 2,8 billion). The Bank together with EcoCash reviewed the Kashagi algorithm and collection mechanisms to improve the micro loans portfolio quality.
“The Business is scheduled to introduce more variants of the Kashagi product in FY24 to respond to emerging digital credit customer needs. The digital micro-credit product remains a key initiative contributing to inclusive economic growth for poverty eradication.”
The Bank’s digital onboarding process and the Kashagi digital credit solution continue to play a key role in driving financial inclusion.
Additionally, the Bank opened a Remittance Centre to offer improved services to remittance clients. The growth of the Bank’s lending book to the agriculture, health and renewable energy sectors played a critical role in supporting the economy.
The bank said Micro, Small to Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector plays a significant role in the Zimbabwean economy.
It said it actively supports this critical customer segment through the SME and Business Banking solutions.
Steward Bank’s tailor-made financial products to MSMEs included SME lending $1,4 billion thus played an important role in supporting inclusive growth in the country.
Additional SME products also included the Steward Bank’s Zama Zama Sole Trader which has 13 400 accounts and Zama Zama Business current (8 100 accounts) as at the close of FY2023.