Equity, Standard in loan pact for vendor

Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu(Left) and Polycarp Igathe(Right) Managing Director Equity Bank,Standard Group and Equity Bank signed a partnership agreement that will enable the media house to leverage on the bank's innovative financial solutions and agency network to boost the newspaper sales and distribution operations of the Group. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]
The Standard Media Group and Equity Bank have signed a partnership deal that will see the former’s 3,500 newspaper vendors given loans to ease their cash flows.

The loans will be extended via Equity’s mobile virtual network, Equitel, helping the vendors to increase their stock and deepen the bank’s lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

Equity Bank Kenya Managing Director Polycarp Igathe said Wednesday at the signing of the deal at the Standard Group offices in Nairobi the bank would also extend the credit facility to its agents to open up a network of over 35,000 vendors.

The facility wired through the media house will be collateral-free with varying ticket sizes depending on the vendor’s needs.

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“This is a partnership to create working capital finance without collateral. All we have to do is identify a certified vendor through knowing your customer credentials from the corporate,” said Mr Igathe.

He said working with corporates was an ideal way of accessing the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are currently suffocating from the lack of credit.

“We are impressed that a media house thought of this before consumer goods. If it works with a newspaper, it will work with soda and cement industry players. It’s a deliberate decision to go into certified ecosystems to access MSMEs working with brands like the Standard Group,” said Igathe.

Standard Group Chief Executive Orlando Lyomu said the partnership would come in handy for vendors to address their cash flow problems.

“We are proud of partnering with Equity Bank with a heritage of innovative culture as we focus on getting the value to ourselves and distributors and working with vendors to access the product easily,” said Mr Lyomu.

In the long-term the partnership targets funding for TV programming to boost local content and promote local talent. Under the rate cap law, banks’ ability to channel credit to the private sector has been curtailed by narrow margins against heightened risks.

This has seen them divert most of their money to the Government through treasury bills and bonds which carry lower costs of processing and have no risks.

However, with virtually all banks lending to the State, returns are lower, leading to flat interest growth.

This has, in turn, led banks to seek other areas of the economy where they can lend safely to SMEs.

Corporate guarantees offer lenders like Equity knowledge of their partners’ data and balance sheet strength to help them make decisions faster and reduce exposure to riskier borrowers.

Mr Igathe said through the Equitel mobile virtual operator, the bank will be able to disburse loans in a record 20 seconds.

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EquitelStandard Media GroupEquity BankSMEsmall and medium-sized enterprisesPolycarp Igathe