Standard Bank Plc has launched its refurbished service centre at Nchalo in Chikwawa, a move Chief Executive Phillip Madinga said supports the sugar and allied agriculture industries in the area.
Nchalo is the home estate of Malawi’s largest sugar grower and manufacturer, Illovo Plc. The surrounding Lower Shire valley is also major source of beef in Malawi, as well as Big Five tourism attractions at Majete and Lengwe game Reserves.
“The sugar industry plays a key role in our economy and in particular the agriculture sector. In that regard, Standard Bank has ensured presence within the two main hubs of Dwangwa and Nchalo where sugar is grown and manufactured, to support this vital business, industry and related other businesses,” said Madinga.
Sugar contributes about 10% of Malawi’s GDP, and about 35% of the country’s agricultural sector, according to available data.
Madinga said the rationale behind investing in Nchalo refurbishments is to give business, SMEs and individual customers of the Lower Shire the same ambience and comfort enjoyed in flagship Standard Bank branches across Malawian cities and regions.
“The new branch will help enhance the delivery of streamlined financial services to individuals and companies that drive the economy within the agricultural sector, and other sectors co-existing within the district of Chikwawa and surrounding areas,” he said.
Officially launching the branch, Reserve Bank of Malawi Director for Pension and Insurance Paul Nyirenda applauded Standard Bank for boosting its branch operations at Nchalo noting the development will improve access to financial services to secondary services in addition to sugar and livestock farming in the area.
“Nchalo is an economic hub in the country with focus on agriculture especially cattle rearing and sugarcane farming. While we associate the area with sugar manufacturing, it is imperative to recognize the growth of secondary services arising from the sugar business. Standard Bank will therefore play a key role to harness that growth sustainably,” he said.
Nyirenda further said RBM appreciates the role of Standard Bank in contributing towards the financial inclusion agenda as highlighted in Malawi’s MW2063 Vision.
“The RBM commends Standard Bank for constructing such a banking hall here at Nchalo. This means that the bank is taking the challenge of achieving the MW2063 vision with a great responsibility. Not only will the structure provide excellence in banking services, but it has changed the appearance of this place,” he said.
Led by Emmanuel Makwakwa the Nchalo will offer all services including providing support for digital banking available through an ATM, Unayo and the 247 platform.