Looking at the central bank branch network figures, one quickly realises that only a handful have more than 10 outlets. When the market outreach bar is raised to 100 and above branches, only two remain in the competition.
One of them is National Microfinance Bank (NMB), which last week opened another two branches upcountry to consolidate its market leadership to 176 outlets. The bank also leads the pack with more than 600 automated teller machines that are spread across the country.
Its acting chief for retail banking, Abdulmajid Nsekela (pictured), says their branch expansion strategy augurs well with the principle of financial inclusion that is premised on services accessibility, affordability and proximity.
“Many banks are currently operating in cities and major towns with the services of a big number of them only confined to Dar es Salaam,” he told Smart Money in an exclusive interview last week.
“It is our policy at NMB to serve every Tanzanian, all segments of society and each sector of the national economy,” Nsekela said noting that the focus of many sectoral players was urban areas and the corporate sector.
“Very few of us are serving the lower end of the market pyramid,” he added.
The two NMB branches have been opened in the lake zone at Katoro and Nyamongo in Geita and Mara regions respectively. The development has meant that the bank has now 24 branches in the zone, which also comprises Mwanza, Shinyanga and Kagera regions.
The zone is the most populous part of the country, which according to the last census had 8.5 million people. The area is also blessed with abundant natural resources such as gold, diamond and tin as well as fish, tourism attractions and a climate to support all-year farming.
In a statement to officially launch the new branches, NMB said the Katoro and Nyamongo outlets are currently serving more than 600 people every day. Before their opening, residents in the areas were walking long distances to get banking services.
The bank said the services were mostly missed by the many traders and fishermen in the areas who faced the risk of keeping huge amounts of money at home. The head of NMB in the Lake Zone, Abraham Augustino, said the branches have been opened to address the services proximity challenge.
“Our new branches are offering all banking services and have additional facilities such as ATMs that are in operation for 24 hours. I call upon people to fully utilise them,” Augustino said during the official opening of the branches last Wednesday.
The launch was graced by Geita district commissioner Manzie Mangachie, who commended NMB for the investment. Mangachie said the branch was an economic opportunity the Geita people have been waiting for, for many years.
“This is another demonstration of NMB closeness to the people. Apart from providing banking services, NMB has supported Tanzanians in many ways, including donating desks for our schools and medical support,” the DC noted.