STEWARD Bank has opened a branch in Bulawayo in what chief executive officer Kwanele Ngwenya says is a clear sign the institution supports efforts to revive and restore the city’s former status as an industrial hub of Zimbabwe.
The bank, formerly known as TN Bank, was fully acquired by Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms firm Econet Wireless in January 2013 and is undergoing transformation as it pursues objectives of becoming a part of the top five banks in the next three years.
Speaking at the official opening of the bank on Wednesday night, Steward Bank chief executive officer Ngwenya said the branch in Bulawayo was as part of efforts to revive the city’s dying fortunes of yester-year.
“There has been talk of Bulawayo being a dying city, a backward and slow place. While there is truth that the city’s fortunes have declined for a number of reasons, we took a conscious decision that we would play our part, no matter how small, in the revival of this great city,” he said.
“We know the challenges that this city faces; company closures and relocations to other places. Well, I have a simple message for you tonight. We are here to stay and want to be a focal point in the revival of this city. Admittedly, sometimes we may not move at the speed of lightning due to resource constraints here and there. But our commitment is unshakeable,” he added.
“Some of you may wonder why we have decided to go to town about opening a branch. After all, there are many banks represented in this great city. What’s the fuss about? Well, the truth is simple.
“Bulawayo is not just another city; it is not just another place. It is not a modern day fossil. No! For those who have a small amount of history, you will know that for a long time this city was the largest industrial hub in Southern Africa outside South Africa.”
Ngwenya revealed they had already begun working on some initiatives with the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) minister Sithembiso Nyoni as ways of providing financial services to ordinary citizens, informal traders, professionals, SMEs and large corporates.
Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo said the opening of Steward Bank in Bulawayo was an entrance of not just another bank, but a partner in resuscitating the city.
“This is a business come to life in Bulawayo. While this may appear as just another occasion for us to clink our glasses, for me, it marks an important step. It marks a step both for the bank and for us as the people of Bulawayo in our continued development,” he said.
Steward Bank has more than 15 branches across the country. The bank provides the backbone to Econet’s mobile money service, EcoCash, and its various products such as EcoCashSave and EcoCashLoans.