After 100 years, this bank still connects with the youth

When a boy or a girl turns 18, the first thing on their mind is to get an identity card (ID). Once they sit for their last KCSE paper (for those on the 8-4-4 system), the next thing on their to-do list is to apply for the identity card, this is like a passport to freedom.

Which means that you are officially an adult, a citizen of the republic of Kenya and a voter. It also means that you are now responsible for your own decisions.

Apart from an ID, the other coveted documents are driver’s license, a voter’s card and a bank ATM. The latter is special. Having a bank ATM card is a big deal, it signifies the trust your parents have on you.

To get a bank ATM card, you must open a bank account. There is something about having a bank account that makes you feel all grown up. You no longer have the “Junior” account that your folks opened for you to deposit coins and notes you saved in a piggy bank. This one is your own not a joint or a group account, it is yours.

Banks were for savings

Growing up, we saw how our parents handled money. For me, banks were for saving. I accompanied my parents to the bank, stood in the queue and watched them transact - deposit or withdraw money or deposit cheques that took seven days to clear.

For the baby boomers, banker’s cheques, overdrafts and travellers cheques were documents we heard about. Fast forward to today, we have online banking. how times change!

Thanks to my mother, the first bank I interacted with was Barclays. Her branch was located in downtown Nairobi along Accra Street. Many are the times she would drag my siblings and I to the bank at the end of the month to withdraw cash. She was a public servant and her pay slip enabled her to access many bank loans. Thanks to her, we got our first colour TV, a plot in Uthiru and my siblings and I successfully went through school.  

Barclays rebrands to Absa

Absa Group is offering Kenyans with a better experience as it moves to rebrand from Barclays Bank in bid to fulfil its brand promise of ‘Bringing possibilities to life’.

Although the bank is over 100 years old, it has a special connection with its customers in many African countries where it operates.

Set up on July 20, 1896, in London, United Kingdom, it was the first UK bank to appoint a female bank manager, Hilda Harding in May 1958. In Kenya, Barclays produced Mary Okelo. A trailblazer in many ways. Okelo was the first female Assistant Manager. In 1977, she became the first woman bank manager in Kenya. After an illustrious banking career, she went to set up Makini Schools.

In Africa, the bank's history can be traced from 1916 when the National Bank of South Africa launched its branch in Mombasa before merging with Anglo-Egyptian Bank and the Colonial Bank in 1925 to form Barclays Bank at the height of the First World War from 1914 to 1916 in Taita Taveta, Kenya. The bank was listed on Nairobi Securities Exchange in 1986 through a successful IPO.

After operating for more than 100 years in Africa, Absa is living by its vision of fulfilling the business needs of its diverse customers and client portfolio.

Investing in education

In 2017, Barclays set aside 24 million dollars (Sh240 million) for a three-year scholarship fund and a further Sh65 million to support the fund in the 2017/18 academic year with an aim of helping the needy access education. The program is a partnership between the bank and Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) who are tasked to administer the fund on behalf of the bank.

Miriam Wanjiku Mwangi, an orphan and a second-year student at Kenyatta University is one of the beneficiaries of the scholarship. She is currently pursuing her dream career in Sociology and Economics. Her parents died when she was only eight-years-old. Despite the hardship at home, she was able to get good grades that saw her get a slot at Kenyatta University.

Miriam is among 470 students across the country who get financial aid through the Barclays Scholarship Fund.

The bank is also investing in post university through the ReadytoWork employability program. The program prepares young people by equipping them with skills required in the job market. Youth are taken through work skills, people skills, money skills and entrepreneurial skills.

Kenya graduates register through a free online platform which was launched in October 2015. The target was to get 40,000 young people by October 2016 in phase one. The target was surpassed to 41,388 people by December 2016. To date, the programme has registered over 150,000 young people.

Absa, through its citizenship arm, has in the past seven years invested more than half a billion shillings in strategic programs which have directly impacted more than 85,000 young Kenyans and indirectly transformed more than 300,000 lives, such as the Sh47.9 million programme dubbed Sport for Kenyan Youth Employment (SKYE) which is a partnership with the International Youth Foundation (IYF), it is meant to benefit over 3,000 youth.

A dream trip to England

Absa recently ran a customer campaign for people who open a personal or business current account with a first deposit of Sh5000. A lucky winner won a trip to Superfan Clubhouse in the UK to watch a Premier League match live.

So, if you have just received your ID and wondering where to open an account, look no further. Absa is the real deal.