AB BANK has launched an agro lending product giving agriculture loans to smallholder farmers from as low as K3,000 to help them enhance their farming activities.
The bank’s acting chief executive officer Dr Jessica Schicks said the institution has so far given out 10,000 loans to its clients.
Speaking at a client appreciation reception in Lusaka, Dr Schicks said the bank had also registered 60, 000 accounts and 40 million deposits in the last four years.
“We are taking deposits from everybody and there is nobody who is too small to start saving with us because our accounts are for free and there are no minimum balances and no maintenance charges,” she said.
She said the bank had six branches and that it would open another one in Kitwe before the end of this year. Dr Schicks said the bank would continue to be fully committed to its clients despite the current economic challenges.
And the bank’s agriculture group leader Jonathan Chola said the bank started working on the lending product a month ago and it has so far dispensed 32 agro loans totalling K320, 700. Mr Chola said the aim of the product was to reach out to clients in need of money for farming. “We are receiving overwhelming response from all the places we have reached, the product is being appreciated,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bank of Zambia supervision department director Gladys Mposha said there was need to inculcate the culture of repaying loans to realise the full potential of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Ms Mposha said bank customers must be committed to repay loans to make it easier for banks to lend more.
“Banks and financial institutions in Zambia regularly tell us that the reason it is expensive to borrow money in Zambia is because borrowers do not pay their loans,” she said.
She also said BoZ expected banks to help customers fully understand features, benefits and risks of their products and services.
Ms Mposha added that banks were also expected to adopt minimum standards of good customer services and fair treatment of customers.
She commended AB Bank for taking an initiative and time to acknowledge and appreciates the support it had received from clients.
“Many banks today do not take time to know the needs of their customers and there are many instances when customers are not given proper information,” she said.