Supporting and growing Kenyan youth

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In a move expected to tackle unemployment and also as part of social corporate responsibility, Gulf African Bank (GAB), a signatory of the United Nation’s Women Empowerment Principles and a champion of the fifth principle of the WEPs which is an implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women, has entered into a partnership with The Law Society of Kenya with an aim of building capacities.

The two parties are expected to rewrite the rules not only in legal aspects but also on finance accessibility and financial management by linking women and youth to financial, legal and business services and opportunities at a time when the job market for fresh graduates is grim.

According to GAB’s managing director, Abdalla Abdulkhalik, initiatives like this one offer a better starting point to fresh graduates especially going by the fact that they further strengthen solid programs that are already put in place. When young professionals meet seniors in their field of study, there is an experience they get out of it.

“It is part of our social corporate responsibility. And the lawyers have come together to take this responsibility. Such partnerships have worked very well with doctors, and now lawyers. So jointly we think we can do something for the community. The doctors are already catered for; we launched their programme two years ago. Then we will go to pilots and so on and so forth,” says Abdulkhalik.

He believes that there are specific sectors that will remain lucrative. Doctors for example, he says, do not retire – unless they want to. As always the case, many doctors would wish to start up their own clinics. A good number are known to work in government institutions then in the evening they are doing their side jobs. Pilots too can work as consultants at old age. Similar to lawyers… If you run your own law firm for example, who will retire you?

“We recognise that these are people who need tailor made products. For example with doctors, we have a product called medical equipment… I can’t storm your hospital and pull out an equipment from a patient simply because you can’t pay. It is not like a car that you can just go, take and sell to recover a loan in default,” explains Abdulkhalik.

Gulf African Bank recently became the first bank in Kenya to sign up for United Women’s HeForShe campaign, a solidarity campaign for the advancement of women empowerment, and has put in place measures to ensure that gender equality in its operations is observed. The bank’s women specific program called “Annisaa” which is embedded in three pillars – empower, educate and protect that which matters to women most – offers unique and innovative financial products designed specifically for women.

It is against the back drop of this “women banking” programme that the Gulf African Bank whose shareholders include: Dubai World (the investment arm of the Government of Dubai); BMI Bank (a leading regional bank headquartered in Bahrain); Sheikh Abdullah Mohammed Al Romaizan (a leading investor from Saudi Arabia); PTA Bank, GulfCap (UAE), IFC (World Banks Private Investment Arm) and prominent Kenyan nationals, offers unsecured Local Purchase Order (LPO) financing of up to 20 million for those with prior performance history and up to 3 million unsecured LPO business for starters who are not just Muslims, but everyone in the country.

Isaac Okero, the president for LSK, when signing the Memorandum of Understanding said that in this partnership, both parties are expected to deepen the engagement by collaboratively sharing knowledge, skills and best practices in not only on the business front but also assisting on matters relating to justice, areas he understands just too well.

Mr Okero further, reiterated their commitment to empower women through training and mentoring to lead to greater societal transformation through strategic partners like Gulf African Bank a time when the bar association boasts of membership of all practicing advocates, currently numbering over 13,000.

“The bar is now composed of 60% men. So we also feel that there is a need to encourage female lawyers. I hope the best move is to develop products that are attractive to this group. We are a good number. So I’m happy when we position ourselves through such partnerships. This is part of the promises we made when we came to the office,” says Okero.