On Saturday 10th August, part of our ABC Bank team visited Zion Children’s Home in Kasarani to deliver books and household goods. The children were really excited to get so many storybooks that will keep them very busy during the school holidays. Mercy, the Zion library prefect, was thrilled to have their library stocked. It was a fun-filled day as the kids danced and interacted with the guests. As Taylor Swift said, books train your imagination to think big and realize you can be whatever you want to be.
Article by Joseph Waithaka, Head of diaspora banking, ABC Bank Kenya
This article was featured in the Business Daily here
A long-time friend who lives and works in the United States of America once called me with a rather peculiar request. His son was coming back to Kenya from the US and my friend wanted me to pick him up from the airport on his arrival. My friend was worried that since his son had spent ten continuous years in the US, he might have lost his bearing and would need help to find his way around once he jetted back into Kenya.
Having personally spent 16 years in the US, I could easily understand where my friend was coming from but a number of my colleagues could not fathom the fact that someone can ‘forget’ or lose touch with their home country no matter how long they stay away. Decades ago, Kenyans typically left the country for a limited time, either to work or study, with the intention of returning to Kenya to settle. In recent years, this scenario has changed, with more in the diaspora staying away for tens of years and building a life away from Kenya.
This state of affairs has had a significant toll on what can be referred to as the second generation diaspora who might have left the country while too young thereby forming completely new identities while abroad. This generation tends to assimilate to the host country’s culture making it difficult for the parents to leave the host country for home.
The fact that Kenyans in the diaspora play a significant role in propping up our economy cannot be understated. Recent data from the World Bank shows that Kenyans working abroad sent home Sh 280 billion in remittances in 2018, outpacing earnings from tourism, tea, coffee and horticulture exports.
The report that was prepared by Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development, a World Bank unit, shows that remittances from Kenyans in the diaspora were also higher than those sent to the other East African countries combined.
As laudable as this is, it might be too early to uncork the champagne in celebration and here is why.
Whereas the hundreds of billions of shillings are critical in supporting relatives back home in meeting obligations like paying school fees, hospital bills and food as well as making long-term investments such as building homes, over the years I have noted that many Kenyans working abroad are increasingly opting to make long-term investments abroad rather than home.
A cursory inquiry into this new trend quickly reveals that this gradual shift has more to do with the aspirations of the second-generation Kenyans in the diaspora which may not tally with those of their parents.For their parents, the staying abroad is a temporary phase that will eventually end with their return back home once they have done their best in fending for their kin.
For the second generation however, abroad feels like home since they assimilate to the new culture in order to get in sync with their peers.
The early 2000s brought with it an economic boom in Kenya that coincided with economic boom in western countries. Home ownership became really easy due to easy access to mortgage financing and low interest rates. At the same time increased economic opportunities in the Kenyan capital and real estate markets attracted many in the Diaspora to invest back home.
The result has been a unique situation, where many Kenyans living abroad have significant investments in both countries.
These are the Kenyans that can loosely be described as the “sandwich generation”, with roots anchored in the immediate family and a strong attachment to the home country. However, in many cases these Kenyans are bringing up children who do not share the same attachment for Kenya and hence have other roots abroad.
As they grow older, they are grappling with the issue of ensuring a smooth transition in matters succession especially for investments made in Kenya.
Lack of enough exposure to the Kenyan culture and way of life additionally poses a significant challenge in re-integrating the children back into the country. As such, these children often lack a strong Kenyan identity and may struggle with the idea of returning to a ‘home’ they can barely relate to.
To spur interest in investments made back home parents should keep their Kenyan ties alive by making sure that their children visit their ancestral homes frequently, and for extended periods of time. While in Kenya, let these children mingle with their grandparents and extended family.
ABC Bank has been supporting our customer, the Catholic church, in various initiatives such as sponsoring the Mater Heart Run and other church events. The Bank sponsored a Fund Drive organized by the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega held on 29th June 2019 at St. Peter’s Seminary Grounds. During the event, the church raised funds towards the ongoing construction of the Tuition Block. The Bank also sponsored the PEFA church Nyanza regional conference held on 2nd July at Siaya for construction of a new church. The ABC Kisumu team represented the Bank during both events.
The ABC Bank Treasury team in conjunction with our Nakuru Branch team held an interactive client dinner on Friday 21st June 2019 at Hotel Merica in Nakuru. The team had an interactive evening networking with forex clients and potential customers. As ABC Bank we strive to understand our customer needs by having interactive sessions and also update our customer on current trends and changes in the banking industry.
Nicholas Muchami carved a road in Kaganda village, Murang’a county to save villagers the trouble of using a longer route to their destination. When his story went viral, many well-wishers came forward to celebrate his selflessness. Some ABC Bank staff took it upon themselves to recognize his efforts in giving back to the community by coming together and contributing household shopping in May.
ABC Bank pledged to support Muchami for his philanthropic act and on Tuesday 11th June, the Bank delivered on its promise. ABC Bank staff led by General Manager – Treasury & Financial Institutions Philip Wambua surprised Muchami at his home in Kaganda, Murang’a by delivering a high yielding ‘grade’ dairy cow, a supply of cow feed and livestock insurance right to his doorstep.
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ABC Bank scooped two awards at the Think Business Awards gala held on 17th May 2019. The Bank was recognized as the winner in the Bank with the lowest charge overall category and the 2nd runners up in the Bank with the lowest charge for individuals category.
Bagging the awards for Bank with the lowest charges three years in a row affirms the Bank’s commitment to offer innovative and affordable financial solutions that meet our customers’ needs.
We thank you for making us champions. Asante sana!
Not all heroes wear capes and certainly Nicholas Muchami, a 45-year old man from Kaganda village, Kiharu, Murang’a County is one of them.
The tall, lean, ashy-haired man of few words does not resemble a character that mirrors one of Marvel’s Avenger franchise heroes, but to the people of his village, Muchami is hailed as the local hero who has made life better for all.
His story, that went viral on social media, narrates how he tirelessly dug a road up a hill for 10 days straight so that the distance between two parts of Kaganda village could be halved.
Armed with a hoe and a ramrod determination to complete his task to construct a 1.5 kilometre road, Muchami dug from dawn to dusk to dig the road up a hill.
“I work as a watchman at a nearby school and I see that people around the area including children have to walk at least four kilometers to get from one point of Kaganda to another. I decided to dig the road to make travelling easier,” said Muchami when he visited ABC Bank’s head office.
Esther Wanjiku, a social activist and a Kaganda native, was joyously unrestrained when the road was completed and this is what drove her to tell Muchami’ s story via social media, a move that has stolen the hearts of Murang’a residents, local, regional and national politicians, businessmen, mainstream media and other Kenyans including the management of ABC Bank.
Esther, who accompanied Muchami for the meeting at ABC Bank, says that road has inspired other residents in the area to take up ownership of challenges they face while at the same time this road has challenged leaders, across the board, to apply themselves in solving issues that affect their constituents.
“Muchami is an inspiration to us all that we do not necessarily have to have money to solve problems,” said Esther. Since the news went viral Muchami has additionally attracted the attention of businesspeople from as far as Kitengela as well as well-wishers who have stepped forward to show appreciation of his work, and this has been helpful.
Muchami has managed to build the road despite numerous challenges including not having a complete house while at the same time, he does menial gigs to supplement his meagre income.
“Some of the problems that I have include an incomplete house. I would appreciate if my home could get electricity. I would be eternally grateful if I had another dairy cow,” added the soft-spoken man.
ABC Bank decided to make his wishes come through. ABC Bank Treasury & Financial Institutions General Manager Philip Wambua pledged, on behalf of the bank, to buy a high yielding ‘grade’ dairy cow and at least six months of feed and livestock insurance. “In addition to supporting Muchami with his immediate needs we must also provide solutions that are sustainable,” said Philip at the meeting.
ABC Bank will work with Esther to open an account for Muchami with the local milk processors so that he can supply his milk on a daily basis, organize to open a bank account for him, give him financial training and organize extension services to ensure that his cows are healthy, and they can multiply. Bank staff also contributed their own resources to send him back home with an assortment of food and household goods.
ABC Bank notes the fake allegations of money laundering circulating on Social Media. We reject these rumours and the choreographed attack on our Bank as malicious and unfounded. The Bank is fully compliant with CBK regulations and the principles of corporate governance.
We strongly refute allegations made about gaps in our Anti Money Laundering/Know Your Customer (AML/KYC) checks. We are fully committed to adhering to all existing AML/KYC guidelines.
On Friday,19th April, ABC Bank staff had the pleasure of joining Kayole Children’s home to celebrate Easter before schools reopened. ABC Bank has been supporting the home over the years.
On Sunday 7th April 2019, The Visa Oshwal Vanik Community in Kisumu held a Free Eye Camp in the region, at Gagra Secondary School. ABC bank partnered with the team by sponsoring and supporting the activities of the day which included operation of cataracts, provision of reading glasses and prescription of medication to patients who turned up for eye check ups.