Thursday 13th November 2014
Our most recent member in Europe, Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB), is a leader in the provision of financial services to SMEs in Turkey. Devrim Tavil, SME Banking Director, spoke with the Global Banking Alliance for Women about the bank’s decision to join the Alliance, its hopes for the planned Women’s Market program, and the role the bank can play in supporting women.
GBA: Why is having a program that targets women specifically a strategic priority for TEB Bank?
Devrim Tavil: We believe in the value of business diversification at TEB SME Banking Group. TEB has already established Public Finance, Gold Banking, Agriculture Banking and Start-up Banking departments, and we see the same business opportunity in the Women’s Market. And there are good examples globally that support our opinion about this opportunity. That’s why we recently joined EBRD’s (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Women in Business Program — to accelerate TEB’s role in the market.
GBA: What are the typical challenges you see SMEs facing?
Devrim Tavil: There are three primary challenges for SMEs today: cash management, transparent balance sheets and income statements, and collateral.
GBA: What does TEB bank do to support SMEs?
Devrim Tavil: TEB supports SMEs with financial and non-financial products and services. Our Relationship Managers (RMs) analyze SMEs’ specific needs and try to set up a tailored credit line based on their business model. We also provide several information channels for our clients, including TEB SME TV, TEB Support Line and TEB SME Consultants — highly trained RMs who provide one-on-one consulting services to our SME customers. These are all free services. Additionally, we offer educational services through the TEB SME Academy and Start-up Training, and networking opportunities through the SME Academy and TEB Angel Investor Platform.
We also set up a non-financial services club called TEB SME Club, which links SMEs and large corporate suppliers. To be a part of the club, suppliers must discount their prices for TEB’s clients. That reduces the purchasing cost for our SME customers.
GBA: This type of comprehensive value proposition sounds costly. How does TEB minimize cost to deliver?
Devrim Tavil: TEB sees these costs as marketing expenditures. Instead of spending money on big advertising campaigns, we focus on non-financial services, which help us to grow our business sustainably through increasing customer loyalty — as well as increasing cross-selling opportunities and gaining new customers.
GBA: How has TEB embedded its SME program in the bank?
Devrim Tavil: We’ve primarily done two things to embed these capabilities in the bank: We’ve trained a cadre of our staff members to be SME consultants (with specific rank and pay), and our overall incentive system is aligned to build the SME business. We have formed a long-term strategic partnership with a staff training company, and this has been key. We listen to our staff’s feedback and what our training company observes, and those two channels inform our training modules. We think it’s important to get an outside perspective in order to offer the best possible quality of service to our staff.
GBA: Thinking about your targeting of women-owned SMEs in particular, do you think you will have to make any adjustments to the product or lending policies in order to ensure women SME owners can access finance?
Devrim Tavil: Possibly. On the non-financial services side, TEB was chosen by the IFC as one of the best three SME banks in the world in 2012. According to their diagnostic, we will need to make only minor adjustments to our existing SME services and products for the Women’s Market. Now, with the technical support that the EBRD program provides, we will learn if and how we need to specialize our business model.
GBA: A lot of women business owners would be categorized as “start-ups.” Does TEB have a strategy for start-ups?
Devrim Tavil: TEB is actually the only bank that has a unique business model for starts-up in Turkey. We help start-ups open a credit line by evaluating their business model and cash flow projections, and we offer free marketing, finance and business plan training. We also have incubation centers, where we give free consulting services to tech start-ups.
GBA: Are you looking at other segments, beyond SMEs, for your Women’s Market program?
Devrim Tavil: We plan to focus initially on the SME segment — particularly start-ups. After we fully understand the needs of women entrepreneurs, we will expand the program. TEB believes that every start-up owner is our future SME and individual client. That’s why it seems like a good idea to start there.
GBA: When are you expecting to launch your Women’s Market program?
Devrim Tavil: Our target launch time is the first quarter of 2015.
GBA: What will you do to gain buy-in from the staff around this strategy?
Devrim Tavil: We have already put a dedicated team in place, and we’re looking to technical support from the EBRD program to help us develop a market strategy for the segment.
GBA: What kind of policies do you have in place regarding women as employees and leaders of the bank?
Devrim Tavil: TEB, as a company, respects all its employees. Currently, 51 percent of our staff is made up of women.
GBA: How did you first hear about the GBA?
Devrim Tavil: We heard about the Alliance from our colleagues, who are also members.
GBA: What specifically are your hopes for your new membership in the Alliance?
Devrim Tavil: We hope to gain a number of things from our GBA membership, particularly knowledge about how to encourage women to start their own businesses and help them achieve sustainability in those businesses. We’re also excited about the peer-to-peer knowledge sharing among Alliance members, as this will help us adopt a successful Women’s Market business model at TEB.
— As told to the Global Banking Alliance for Women
AT A GLANCE
(as of December 2013)
# of customers: 956,284 SME Clients
# of women customers: 87,185 Women Entrepreneurs & Companies with women partnership
Value of deposits: US$ 16,042 million
Value of loans: US$ 17,819 million
# Of ATMs: 1,677
# of full service branches: 544
# of employees: 10,001