#Immersion: Ndela Sichizya, Atlas Mara Zambia
by Moonga Mkandawire. Zambia’s economy has been projected to grow at 5.5% in 2018. Tightening of monetary policy by the Bank of Zambia has been effective in stabilising the exchange rate (a Kwacha will cost you about R1.20). However, according to export.gov, most sectors in Zambia are uncompetitive and are dominated by a few large players; banking is no exception. Marketing manager Ndela Sichizya gives us a brief look into the emergence of a new bank, Atlas Mara Zambia.
Moonga Mkandawire: Who are the primary players in the Zambian banking market?
Ndela Sichizya: 1) Barclays. 2) Stanbic (Standard Bank). 3) Stanchart (Standard Chartered Bank). 4) ZANACO (Zambia National Commercial Bank). 5) FNB (First National Bank).
MM: What home-grown brands stand out as achieving success in the Zambian market at the moment?
NS: Zapit by Zanaco
MM: Can you give us a sense of the wealth management segment of the market and what offerings Atlas Mara has for this segment?
NS: We have an asset management segment where we manage collective investment schemes ie pulled funds. The three main products under the segment include: money market funds for the money market instruments; equity funds for the stock markets; and gratuity fund for institutions.
MM: How are Zambians transacting? Is the economy still cash-based or are you seeing a trend towards alternative payment methods? If so, what are they? Mobile wallets?
NS: The economy has been moving quite rapidly towards other payment methods. The use of alternative payments has been supported by campaigns from both government and private institutions like banks, Central Bank, Bankers Association and VISA. The proposition of convenience and safety have been the key messages in driving the uptake of these alternative payment platforms.
MM: Where do you see growth opportunities for financial services in the Zambian market?
NS: Zambia has total of 19 registered commercial banks providing very similar products and services. There exists, of course, a differentiation in service, efficiencies and capacities in delivery to give a competitive edge on the top players of the industry. Other competitors that have emerged in the recent past include the mobile network service providers [which are] also providing a wide range of money transfer and payment services. This, therefore, makes the industry crowded and a bit difficult for exponential growth. Some potential for growth lies in tapping into the unbanked citizens in the rural and peri-urban areas who are, however, in low numbers owing to the sparse settlements. This fact also makes cost of systems and structural investments huge because these settlements are underdeveloped in terms internet and physical infrastructure.
MM: How did you approach the rebranding exercise of Atlas Mara?
NS: The rebranding was both exciting and challenging for the bank but more especially for the marketing team. It was such a huge undertaking as it was three-fold: first, the acquisition of African Banking Corporation Limited which was trading under the brand name BancABC by Atlas Mara group, then acquisition of Finance Bank Zambia, and merging the two local banks in Zambia to form Atlas Mara Zambia. So, in this corporate cocktail, there are three brands that existed ie Atlas Mara, African Banking Corporation and Finance Bank Zambia. The bank obtained an approval from the Central Bank to operate in Zambia as African Banking Corporation Zambia Limited, trading as Atlas Mara Zambia.
The whole rebranding process involved a 360-degree new brand design and positioning. The works included [a] full rebrand of all corporate identity elements like corporate wear, physical building look and feel, website, social media pages, adverts, corporate gifts, taglines, stationery etc. Branding Atlas Mara or any other brand from the scratch is such a great learning and executional experience every marketer would cherish to go through
MM: Is sustainability and environmental impact of business a key consideration of business messaging in Zambia at the moment?
NS: Yes, sustainability is a big one [on] our business agenda. We have a comprehensive sustainability policy that is embedded in all that we do and how we relate with our various stakeholders. It should, however, be noted that most organizations are either subtle or only beginning to focus on sustainability issues. The wakeup-call in the recent past has been after a few named organisations have been fined for failure to manage sustainability of the environment.
MM: How do young Zambians enter the local marketing industry?
NS: Through formal training in tertiary institutions like colleges and universities. The Zambia Institute of Marketing offers training and certification for professional marketing courses, while the universities offer the academic programs like the Bachelor’s (BSc) and Master’s (MSc) degree in marketing.
Moonga Mkandawire is a writer, editor and analyst. Born in Kitwe, Zambia, he moved to South Africa in 2001 and, with a background in both actuarial science and music, he founded SPARK Gatherings, a communication platform which serves up fresh perspectives on the intersection of urban development, real estate and the creative industries. He contributes the new column, #Immersion, which explores African market dynamics through executive profiles, to MarkLives.
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