Developing Financial Inclusion
“ We have a common goal: to promote the inclusion of populations far from banking. ”
Interview with Mareme Mbaye Ndiaye, general manager of Société Générale Cameroun, and Cyrille Belamy, CEO of Advans Cameroon.
Can you introduce yourself?
Mareme Mbaye Ndiaye : Societe Generale has a solid and historic presence in Africa with 17 universal banking subsidiaries, and Société Générale Cameroun is a perfect illustration of this. Participating in the development of the country for nearly 60 years, with today 38 branches and 658 employees serving 235,000 customers including 5,500 companies, Société Générale Cameroun is the leading bank in the country in terms of loans. It has just been awarded "Best Bank in Cameroon" again this year by Global Finance.
The Bank offers banking services to individuals, medium and large local companies, as well as products adapted to institutions and associations.
Cyrille Belamy : Advans Cameroon was Advans International's first entity on the African continent. The group is now present in 9 countries, 6 of which are in Africa, including Cameroon, and its mission is to promote economic and social development through financial inclusion and the empowerment of individuals and businesses.
In a very competitive context, Advans Cameroon is today the leader in microfinance in the country and offers a wide range of services adapted to the needs of farmers, traders, artisans and entrepreneurs as well as their families. We cover the entire national territory through a network of 12 branches and currently have over 80,000 clients.
Why is a banker interested in microfinance?
M. M. N. : Africa remains a very under-banked continent. In Cameroon, for example, the banking rate is less than 20%.We participate in the development of microfinance institutions in order to contribute, through them, to the financial inclusion of the local population that has little or no access to bank services.
In 2005, Societe Generale decided to work in partnership with these institutions, given the scale of the needs and the emergence of new microfinance players. This intervention takes the form of granting lines of credit in local currency and taking equity stakes. It is in this spirit that Société Générale Cameroun has chosen to support Advans Cameroun since its creation in 2006, both in capital and in financing. Societe Generale's commitment to financial inclusion is long-standing and was recently reaffirmed in the Group's strategic plan. It is one of the major axes of the "Grow with Africa"initiative and is of course also embodied with other microfinance institutions here and in other African countries.
How has the support of Société Générale Cameroun been an asset for you?
C. B. : Société Générale Cameroun has accompanied us throughout our development by providing permanent financial support as a founding shareholder and source of funding. For example, in December 2020, Société Générale Cameroun contributed to the strengthening of Advans Cameroun's equity capital and holds 11% of our institution's capital.
This long-term support has enabled us to develop our business model in a secure manner. We have been able to broaden our range of services and offer our clients innovative solutions (investment loans, cash management, investments, insurance, etc.) using digital tools.
We are now in a position to offer our clients tailor-made support to help them grow.
Is this also the banker's point of view?
M. M. N. : This partnership made it possible to create synergies and test innovative solutions. Thus, we launched one of the first electronic money services in Cameroon thanks, among other things, to our collaboration.
Ultimately, this partnership made it possible both to expand our customer base and to offer them new services. It fits perfectly into our universal banking strategy for the sustainable development of Cameroon.
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