Fina Bank postpones opening to October

Walter Wafula


Fina Bank, a Kenyan-based firm which was due to start operating in Uganda this month has postponed its opening to October this year.
The bank has cited incomplete work at its headquarters in Kampala, as the reason for then adjustment in period of launch.  "We are now looking at opening in the first week of October," Mr Robert Warlow, Fina's Group Chief Operating Officer, said in interview on Friday. The opening will be delayed because final structure work on its Uganda head office on Buganda Road is still on-going.
 The expansion of Fina into Uganda is part of its vision, to have a regional presence in the five East African countries, to boost and tap into the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) segment on the bloc. In Kenya, it operates eight branches, it has opened five branches in Rwanda since 2004, and yet it plans to expand into Tanzania and Burundi.

Mr Warlow said the bank will open with five new branches including one at Nakivubo in November, others in Mbarara and Kabale (December) and Owino market (February).  "The reason why we are going to Mbarara and Kabale is because of our regional presence and being an SME bank, we are following the road all the way from Rwanda, through Kabale and Mbrara to Kampala," Mr. Warlow said. The bank's target is to have about eight branches, by the end of 2009.

 He said the bank will kick off with these branches in a span of five months, to demonstrate it's seriousness, in a market that has becoming heavily competitive for less than three million bank users, out of a population of  over 30 million. "Not only do we want to have five new branches, we also want to demonstrate that we are a serious bank."

 The coming of Fina which completely concentrates on serving small businesses and entrepreneurs is expected to cut off a piece of the big bank's SME pie.
Already Fina Bank's progress in Rwanda is reportedly drawing more SME customers to the bank with specific interest in the bank's money transfer service branded Fina Direct. This service enables that bank's customers to transfer money from one East African country to another, within 30 minutes.

The opening of Fina in Uganda will extend the same product to its Ugandan clients, besides the ordinary banking services, including, consumer and business banking as well as Trade Finance.

With an aim to benefit from and facilitate trade between the mentioned countries, Fina plans to invest $5 million (Shs8.1 billion) this year and will subsequently inject expand the investment to $8 million (Shs13 billion) in the next three years. The bank is owned by four shareholders, from the United Kingdom and Kenya with a core capital valued above Sh843 million (Shs20.2 billion).

It will be the third Kenyan Bank to enter the Ugandan market, after Kenya Commercial Bank and Equity Bank which currently operating as Uganda Microfinance Limited.

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