by Hilary Ngwira
On April 12, 2018, Centenary Bank Limited made history by opening the first-ever bank branch at Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi. As the branch celebrates its 5th anniversary at the camp, it is evident that the branch has significantly impacted the lives of the refugees living in the camp.
The Bank’s mission was to provide refugees with access to financial services that were previously unavailable to them and include them in the financial system. With the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP), Centenary Bank Limited has disbursed loans to thousands of refugees over the past five years. The loans have been used to start businesses, pay for school fees and improve living conditions, uplifting the economic lives of refugees and giving them a sense of independence and hope for a better future.
In addition to providing financial services, the Bank has created job opportunities for refugees, empowering them to support themselves and their families. This has contributed to the overall development of the refugee camp and has helped to reduce dependence on external aid.
Managing Director of Centenary Bank Limited, Zandile Shaba, expressed her pride in the impact of the initiative on the lives of refugees. “Our initiative in Dzaleka has shown us the power of financial inclusion to transform lives. We attribute the success of the initiative to our commitment to social responsibility and our dedication to improving the lives of marginalized communities,” she said. She added that “through this initiative, the Bank has shown that financial inclusion is not just a matter of profit but also a matter of social impact.”
Shaba emphasized the importance of partnerships and collaboration in achieving sustainable development goals, stating that the initiative would not have been possible without the support of UNHCR and WFP, who provided critical resources and expertise.
Looking forward, the Bank will continue to prioritize financial inclusion as a key component of development initiatives. “By including marginalized communities in the financial system, we can create opportunities for economic growth, social mobility and overall well-being,” said Shaba.
Centenary Bank Limited’s initiative in Dzaleka has demonstrated that financial inclusion can make a significant difference in the lives of refugees. The Bank remains committed to supporting similar initiatives that prioritize social impact and empower marginalized communities.