The Agricultural Bank of Egypt (ABE) aims to increase its customer base to 30 million across the country and increase the number of branches to 2,000 over the next five years.
The plan comes in line with the Egyptian state and the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) vision to achieve financial inclusion. This would take place by introducing new segments of citizens into the banking system, according to ABE Chairperson Alaa Farouk.
Farouk said that the bank is working according to strategic plans and programmes to implement the concept of financial inclusion through its branches nationwide, of which it currently has 1,200 branches.
He indicated that the bank is currently working on modernising and rehabilitating all bank branches, and supporting them with the latest technologies.
Farouk said that the first phase of its plan aims to develop 650 branches nationwide before the end of this year, in addition to the increase in its number of branches, during the next five years.
The bank is also expanding the installation of ATMs, to achieve financial inclusion and provide the best services to customers. The bank will, with the CBE’s support, be putting in place 1,000 ATMs across the country.
The ABE is participating in the celebrations of Financial Inclusion Week and International Savings Day from 15 to 31 October, with a distinguished set of banking services and additional benefits for current and new customers.
The bank also offers many educational activities aimed at spreading awareness of banking services to enhance financial inclusion. These activities are projected to improve economic growth rates, banking and financial stability, and social development.
These benefits include allowing new customers to open current and saving accounts for free, without any administrative fees or a minimum amount in the account.
The bank also conducts awareness-raising activities to encourage craftsmen, small merchants and the self-employed to open accounts without a commercial register, in accordance with the CBE’s procedures. These allow customers to open these accounts with only a national ID card, to motivate them to open bank accounts and benefit from banking services.
The ABE is also providing its existing and new customers with Meeza prepaid cards, also for free, during the 15 days of celebration.
In conjunction with this celebration, the bank is preparing to launch a microfinance programme as the latest in rural development services and financing programmes it provides. It will serve a broad spectrum of citizens in all Egyptian villages, especially the neediest and low-income groups.
According to Farouk, the new financing programme targets owners of simple handicrafts and small merchants in the countryside, in addition to rural women. It has been put in place to empower them economically, and encourage them to produce by financing projects to raise birds, poultry, goats and sheep at home, in addition to household industries, handicrafts, dairy products, and small business.
The new financing programme also provides micro-loans of EGP 2,000 – EGP 10,000, without fees and with simple procedures and large facilities.
Farouk emphasised the ABE’s endeavour to provide all banking and financing services to various groups of society in order to achieve financial inclusion. The bank is also working to enhance awareness of financial and banking services among all segments of society.
He praised the CBE’s keenness on consolidating and enhancing the concept of financial inclusion. This is projected to enhance the national economy through these occasions where all banks operating in Egypt participate.