Zimbabwe’s first youth-centric bank, called Empowerment Bank (EB) has just been launched today by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The bank, which is a microbank, in essence, has “been formed with the purpose of providing social and financial solutions to the financially excluded population with a greater focus on the youth”.
EB was launched under the auspices of the government, no wonder the presence of a number of government officials. EB will be capitalised to the tune of $12 million. While banks today do offer junior bank accounts, this is the only institution completely focused on the youth segment. I think this type of bank is what we need to nurture the next generation of bank customers in their banking journey. Hence this is a good initiative by the government.
What does EB really do?
Empowerment bank offers loans to youth-led businesses in agricultural projects, asset finance, guarantees, savings accounts, cutting across urban, peri-urban and rural Zimbabwe
What are EB’s Products and Services?
Besides current accounts and savings account, EB will offer;
Loans- this encompasses the various forms of “micro credit” including; agricultural credit, rural credit, cooperative credit, order financing, invoice discounting and consumer credit.
EmpowerBank School fees loans- for those who need school fees for themselves and their family.
EmpowerBank Special accounts- a tailor maid product aimed at giving groups, clubs, societies and associations an opportunity to save, invest and access flexible financial services.
Rimawo Account- a savings account for farmers, agro traders (input suppliers, middlemen, agro retailer) and any other player in the Agri value chain.
After reading EB’s products, you probably noticed the usual ‘government-associated’ words; agri and agro (standing for agriculture). Yes EB is youth-centered but I don’t think its flagship products are very ‘youth friendly’ so to speak. These days how many youths are interested in interested in agriculture? Just a few, I think. Yet EB’s business model seems to be defined by Agri based loans. I think these days youths is Zimbabwe are interested in technology and this is characterized by the number of technology startups that are emerging.