Government-owned businesses are often dismissed as being bureaucratic, slow and unentrepreneurial. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and its president Bekalu Zeleke, left, explode that image. The institution, which is the largest commercial bank in Ethiopia and in the entire East African region, has opened more than 100 new branches in the past year, bringing the total to 372.
But the bank’s plans for the future are what truly make it stand out. The bank, with two million account holders now, plans on increasing the number of accounts by 25% per year, establish 200 new ATMS per year and open 500 new branches over the next five years. Its mission: to become a world-class commercial bank by the year 2025.
Zeleke and the bank demonstrate that state-owned organizations can be drivers of economic expansion in Ethiopia and all across Africa.”The bank is on a mission to transform its operations,” says Dan Kazungu, IBM’s country representative in Ethiopia.
IBM hopes to help the bank accomplish its mission. The company recently signed a deal to provide it with $3 million in computer hardware, software and services, which, in addition to making the aggressive expansion possible, will also enable mobile and Internet banking services.
Zekele has been a progressive force at the bank for some time. Last year, he announced plans for a new 42-story headquarters building in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, which would be the tallest building in the country and the first to be accorded green building certification under international standards.
It goes to show; entrepreneurs can turn up in unlikely places.
To read a report about IBM’s approach to doing business in Africa, click here.