RAWBANK Launches All-Female Branch
Saturday 13th April 2013
Alliance member Rawbank of the Democratic Republic of Congo, already a market leader through its “Lady’s First
” program, launched a bank branch exclusively for women customers on April 1. Located in the capital city of Kinshasa, the Lady’s First branch caters primarily to established women entrepreneurs but also serves younger, up-and-coming would-be business owners as well as women executives. Along with full-service business and personal banking, the women-only branch offers “Rawconseil,” a legal advisory service to provide women entrepreneurs with assistance to draft contracts or to officially register their businesses. The women-only branch also sponsors networking events and business development workshops on topics ranging from how to prepare a business plan, managing staff, and cost control – and there is even a children’s play area where youngsters can be entertained while their mothers transact business.Rawbank’s decision to launch a women-only branch was motivated in equal parts by cultural sensitivities and competitive advantage, according to women’s markets officer Patience Barandenge. “Women entrepreneurs comprise a significant customer segment but one which to date has not received much attention from the financial services sector,” Ms Barandenge said. “Rawbank recognized unsuspected leadership qualities among this segment, tied not only to their role in the economy but also their role as managers within their families. To deliver them the best possible service – and also the fastest, because women are busy – Rawbank felt we needed a branch specifically for our women customers.”Interestingly, the staff at the women-only branch is all male. Ms. Barandenge says that focus group testing found that the bank’s women customers believe that men treat women better than women treat each other. She expects that the women-only branch model will succeed and expand, citing the rapid uptake of the “Lady’s First” program in general and the recognition it has won Rawbank as the leader in women’s markets among financial institutions in Francophone Africa.