National Bank of Malawi relaxes lending terms: Kasunda tells Chitipa customers

National Bank of Malawi, (NB) customers in Chitipa District  heaved a sigh of relief  Saturday when the bank made it clear that  formulation of viable business plans was the best eligibility criteria  for clients to access its loans and not availability of  collateral a lone, like it has always been wildly speculated.

Kasunda speaking to customers of National Bank
Kasunda speaking to customers of National Bank

The  bank made its stand clear through National Bank Head of Personal and Business Banking Division,  Oswin Kasunda during an interactive meeting between the Bank and  clients for Chitipa National Bank Service Centre held at Fwasa Lodge at Chitipa Boma.

Kasunda explained that when a  customer pushes  a  loan application , the Bank carefully assess the viability of the business plan before making a decision on the request.

“The Bank  seriously assesses the viability of the business proposal before passing the decision on the loan application,” said Kasunda.

He was commenting on the concerns raised by members from the business community running  small  and medium business enterprises  (SMEs) to the effect that most of them fail to grow their business enterprises due to lack of collateral to qualify them for loan acquisition from the  National Bank.

“Our  Bank has always disbursed  huge sums of money in form of loans to its clients, even in absence of collateral because it is not a prerequisite,” said Kasunda in clearing the mist.

He cited  customers   who are awarded  multimillion kwacha contracts  to provide certain services as some of loan beneficiaries whose eligibility criteria becomes the viability  and implementation feasibility of the contracts and are not  laboured to produce a  collateral.

Kasunda, however, said  at times, the  demand for collateral,  which he said   has been blown out of proportion, becomes  the last resort.

He said collateral serves as  security of the loan in event that the purpose    the loan was applied for has not been achieved.

Said Kasunda, “The collateral becomes a fall-back. In circumstances that everything else fails, the  Bank will recover its money through the collateral the loan applicant offered but it is not in any way the only  determining factor for a loan application  to be approved.”

According to Kasunda, the bank has no fixed  amount of money one can borrow as it is always the loan applicant’s capacity that determines how much one can apply for.

Kasunda, however, commended people of Chitipa who have fallen in love with the Bank as their business partner and pledged keen interest  to understand their financial needs  for the growth of their  business enterprises so that they contribute positively to the economic growth of the nation.

“ The Bank will continue unveiling new  business opportunities for the SMEs to  promote the growth of their  businesses empires.” said Kasunda.

Kasunda labeled  his bank as the oldest in the country, having crocked 110 years,  reliable, besides growing from strength to strength and patted at the back customers who have  partnered with the bank that they did not make a mistake.

At the  meeting, customers cried foul over slow bank transition, a situation that make customers spend hours on long queues in the bank, which they said was a source of discomfort as well as a waste of precious time.

“Some bank tellers  manually  count money from customers more that twice after machine count and spend minutes only to study customer ID, even if the customer is not new to the bank.” Charged one customer.

The Bank Manager  for Karonga National Bank which oversees Chitipa National Bank Service Centre, Franklin Banda,  to a larger extent  blamed slow transactions to network failure and incompetent bank tellers.

Banda assured customers of improved services after the transfer of  all the staff accused of mediocrity and replaced with  efficient staff deployed from Karonga.

Banda also advised customers to adopt card based products, such as the ATM,  MO 626 among other mobile banking services for fast  transactions.

The Bank holds periodic interactive meetings with its customers to get feed-back   on the bank services for improvement where there are shortfalls and to maintain satisfactory services.

The meetings also become forums where the bank shares business management tips with  its customers who would want to embark in business enterprises.

“The meetings are also held   to share with customers newly introduced products and services  witch are on the offer,” added Kasunda.

Senior Chief Kameme asked National Bank to consider rolling  out outreach  banking services in hard to reach areas so that people in rural areas can access banking services at their door steps.

Said Senior Chief, “ It is too risky  for small holder farmers and rural people plying various business enterprises to brave long distances, in custody of huge sums of money, to access banking services at Chitipa Boma.”

National Bank, whose  loans attract a  27%  interest rate ,  boasts  150 customers in Chitipa District a lone.

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