We applaud The Co-operative Bank of Kenya for being the overall winner in this year’s Sustainable Finance Catalysts Awards for banks and financial sector players. Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) took the second position while Equity Bank took the third position. Other participants were Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT), Diamond Trust Bank, Safaricom Limited and Standard Chartered Bank.
Following the launch of Sustainable Finance Guiding Principles by Central Bank of Kenya governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge on 1st December, 2015, Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) adopted these principles with an aim of guiding banks and other financial sector players in balancing between their main business goals and economy development priorities and socio-environments goals. It is possible to link these two goals into one and still have profits.
In a bid to recognize and motivate industry players to incorporate economy development and socio-environmental goals, KBA launched the awards themed “Recognizing Catalytic Finance that Impacts Industry, Economy and Society.” in 2016.
The awards recognize banks that offer financial services through giving debts to projects such as utilization of solar and wind energy among others. Use of solar energy minimizes uses of energy from sources that are non-renewable. They also recognize contribution to the GDP through job creation by funding sectors such as the SME which partly forms the base of the Kenyan economy.
The National Economic Survey report by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in 2017 shows that SMEs in Kenya constitute 98 percent of businesses in Kenya, and contribute 3 percent of the GDP.
The Co-operative Bank of Kenya financed the Strathmore University initiative to use solar energy to not only save the on energy cost but also sell excess power. The Co-operative Bank financed this initiative through secured green funds at concessionary rates.
The judging panel was compromised of highly accomplished professionals who included; Ms. Anne Macharia from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Eng. Dan Ndenga of Miltech Engineering Limited, Mr. Eward Mungai, CEO Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), Dr. Peter Muiru a lecturer in Financial and Monetary Economics at the University of Nairobi, Ms. Rosemary Mutunkei, a Corporate Sustainability and Corporate Social Investment practitioner; and Mr. Tumurkhuu Davaakhuu of the Mongolia Bankers Association.
These awards position participants as businesses in which are keen in contributing to the societal development. Some investors from developed countries consider this before putting their money in a company. Actually, some investors threaten to pull out their money if the business is hesitant on getting involved in projects that are of economic to societal benefit.
Participation of these awards is expected to increase in the coming years. In this year’s award we saw Fintech start-up Lendable, based in New York and in Nairobi participate. Participating firms will see their awareness among customers and investors across the globe improve in the area of differentiation, visibility and validation.