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Because of its support for Small and Medium Enterprises, Diamond Trust Bank has become famous in Kenya as “The SME bank”. A lot of the SMEs DTB supports are headed or managed by women. They are constantly re-engineering their businesses to adjust to the changing circumstances and realities in Kenya.

Saima Esmail – Automotive Solutions, Mombasa

The deal is set to spur the economy further, noting the country’s 6 per cent growth during the third quarter of 2018. According to the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics, this growth has been supported mostly by increased activity in the sectors of agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

Saima has been a DTB customer for 10 years. She was part of the group that took part in training on financial literacy in Mombasa. Her business’ main challenge for now arises from the effect that the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway has had on transporters, who have had to dispose of trucks because of the reduction in demand. To adjust to the new reality, her company plans to move to Eldoret, where the demand is expected to be high

She said: “I’m really happy about the training because it has helped me a lot, especially in terms of finance. I have learnt how to plan ahead for my business, especially with creditors and debtors and to plan for the future.”

The main lesson for her was on the need to know her customers well enough to determine how much credit she can give them.

Gladys Njeri – hardware and furniture store, Nairobi

Gladys runs a hardware and furniture store in South B in Nairobi. Before she started banking with DTB, she had sold too many goods on credit, and the business was almost on its knees. “One of my customers is a DTB customer and I talked to them and started doing my banking with DTB. DTB did not mind that I was small and they gave me the loan and it has really helped me,” she said.

Her biggest lesson from the financial literacy training sessions she attended in 2019 was on the need to manage her financials and to have a balance in how she sells goods on credit to enable her business constantly be well capitalised.

She was also inspired by the experiences of her fellow entrepreneurs, some of whom have had extremely low moments in their journeys but have had the strength to get back up.

Gladys’ ambition is to become a cement distributor and is planning to approach the major cement manufacturers to get into a position where she can make more profit.

Niceta William – Pioneer Foods, Nairobi

She started the business, where they manufacture snacks and spices, in 2009. She was also running a salon and a barbershop. A few months after she got the business going, she bought a pick-up truck on credit. But she was unable to service the loan and three months later, the vehicle was taken away by auctioneers.

“When I started, I didn’t know that there would be many expenses and I couldn’t make money as easily as I had thought. It just didn’t pick up the first time,” she recalled.

She then met a Relationship Manager at DTB and after operating the account for five months, qualified for an overdraft to provide working capital for her business. Then came her best phase. “I went fully into business. Everything was well and I became creditworthy. They gave me a loan to buy my first car, I paid it off, I went for a truck, paid it off and the business was so good that I was able to go back for more,” she said.

Two years ago, Nakumatt, at the time one of Kenya’s leading supermarket chain, started showing signs of strife and would eventually collapse. It went down with Niceta’s working capital.

“I went back to DTB and sat with one of the senior managers and we worked out something and I got back on track. Any time I am asked to talk about DTB, I get emotional because I know where I have come from (with the bank) and where I am today. Thank you so much and God bless you,” she said.

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