In a resounding victory, Co-operative Bank of Kenya has secured the coveted top position in this year’s Sustainable Finance Catalyst (SFI) Awards organized by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA). The award ceremony, held in Nairobi, witnessed the bank’s exceptional achievements in fostering sustainable practices within the banking sector.
The SFI Awards, which acknowledge banks’ endeavors to create long-term value for both clients and the environment, positioned Co-operative Bank as the overall winner. This recognition underscores the bank’s unwavering commitment to incorporating environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) principles into its core operations.
Equity Bank Kenya claimed the second spot, highlighting the fierce competition in the sector, while Absa Bank Kenya secured the third position. The event was graced by esteemed personalities including Nairobi Securities Exchange Chief Executive Geoffrey Odundo, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya CEO Tamara Cook, and KBA’s Habil Olaka.
Geoffrey Odundo emphasized the changing landscape in the business environment, where investors are increasingly prioritizing sustainable practices. He highlighted that addressing environmental, social, and corporate governance issues has become a key parameter for securing funding, emphasizing the growing importance of sustainable finance.
The SFI Awards, sponsored by FSD Kenya and featuring eight categories, recognized Co-operative Bank of Kenya for its outstanding performance in various areas. The bank not only secured the Best Client Case Study-Commercial category but also emerged victorious in the Most Innovative Bank, Best Client Case Study-Gender Inclusivity, and Promoting Persons with Disabilities Accessibility categories.
Tamara Cook, the CEO of FSD Kenya, emphasized the critical role sustainability plays in the current economic challenges. She underscored that sustainability is the pathway for financial institutions to navigate tough times. Cook emphasized that by reconfiguring credit scores to target small enterprises, women, and agriculture, banks can secure a competitive edge and endure economic challenges.
Habil Olaka, the CEO of KBA, acknowledged the significant progress made by banks in addressing sustainable banking practices and managing related risks. He referenced the Sustainable Finance in Kenya Banking Business Report 2020, which highlighted that 85% of banks ensure responsible lending that promotes sustainable development. However, Olaka noted the need for further integration of sustainability reports with financial results.
The Co-operative Bank’s triumph in the SFI Catalyst Awards extends beyond this year. In the 2022 edition, the bank was announced as the best bank overall winner, showcasing consistent dedication to sustainable finance practices. Equity Bank secured the second position, with KWFT Bank taking the third spot.
These accolades affirm the banking sector’s commitment to embracing sustainable practices and integrating them into their business models. As the industry continues to evolve, the focus on sustainable finance is becoming increasingly crucial, not only for ethical reasons but as a strategic imperative for long-term success.
The trade finance industry, which plays a pivotal role in economic development, is also recognizing the importance of sustainability. Efforts to bridge the gap between global sustainability standards and the unique needs of African economies are underway. The recent interview with George Wilson, Head of Institutional Trade Finance at Investec, highlighted the potential for trade finance to drive sustainable development in Africa.
As Co-operative Bank of Kenya basks in the glory of its latest victory, the financial industry’s shift towards sustainability signifies a broader commitment to responsible banking practices. With the increasing influence of sustainable finance on investment decisions, banks that prioritize environmental and social responsibility are not only reaping awards but positioning themselves for long-term success in a changing financial landscape.