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Ecobank Rebrands Micro-finance Institution 

By Joe Dinga Pefok

The leading Pan-African commercial bank, Ecobank, has rebranded its Category 2 micro-finance institution in Cameroon by changing its name from EB-ACCION Micro Finance Cameroun SA to Pan-African Savings & Loans SA.  

The rebranding launched at the beginning of the year went into effect with a public ceremony organised in Douala on March 21 for authorities to make public the change.

Littoral Governor, Samuel Dieudonné Ivaha Diboua, officially unveiled the new name of the micro-finance.

The Board Chair of Pan-African Savings and Loans, Nicolas Achiri of Ecobank Cameroun, explained why the Ecobank Group which is present in 35 African countries, decided to engage in the micro-finance sector.

According to Achiri, as a Pan-African group, the Ecobank Group was worried that many Africans with little financial means, including small business operators, were being left out of the classic banking system operated by commercial banks.  

He said after serious reflection, the Ecobank Group decided to get involved in the micro-finance sector so as to serve the disenfranchised Africans. 

As regards Cameroon, Achiri said that in 2009 a license was issued (MINFI No. 00000331 of October 2009) for the operation of a micro-finance which had as major shareholders Ecobank Cameroun and an American Group, ACCION Investments.  

The micro-finance institution was named EB-ACCION Micro Finance Cameroun SA. The name EB-ACCION came out of the names of the two partners, with EB standing for Ecobank.  

The micro-finance institution was officially launched on April 1, 2010. A few years later, Ecobank Cameroun became majority shareholder of EB-ACCION by acquiring more shares, which took its total shares to 59.9 percent.

But the Board Chair disclosed that a few years later, Ecobank became very worried with the way some micro-finance institutions in Cameroon crumbled, leaving customers stranded.

Achiri noted that such incidents gave a negative image as a whole to micro-finance institutions in Cameroon. He said the Ecobank Group then resolved to take action to clearly distinguish its micro-finance which is covered by the solid financial base of the Group and the other partners.

Ecobank contacted the other partners who bought the idea for a change of name.    So in 2016, it was decided that the name of EB-ACCION Micro Finance Cameroun SA be officially changed to Pan-African Savings & Loans SA.

Achiri also explained that the new name directly links the micro-finance institution to the Ecobank Group.

Meanwhile, Samba Dia, the Managing Director of the former EB-ACCION Micro Finance Cameroun SA, assured customers and potential customers that the change of name does not affects clients.  

“We are changing our name and not our engagement,” said Samba.

He also announced that the micro-finance institution which exists only in Douala and Yaounde with nine agencies would expand to other towns nationwide.

Other speakers at the occasion included the Regional Director for Africa of ACCION Investments, Brian Kuwik, and the Coordinator of Micro Finance Institutions in the Ecobank Group, Rotin Nihinlola.

Shareholders

Pan-African Savings & Loans SA presently has four shareholders: Ecobank Cameroun (48.8 percent), International Finance Corporation, IFC, which is a World Bank branch specialized in private financing (32.8 percent shares), Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, ETI, that is the holding of the Pan-African banking group, Ecobank Group (10.8 percent shares) and ACCION Investments (7.6 percent).

Ecobank Cameroun and its mother company, ETI, hold a total of 59.6 percent of the shares of Pan-African Savings and Loans SA in Cameroon, which makes Ecobank the majority shareholder.  

 

            

                 

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