Econet subsidiary, Steward Bank, has injected $250 million towards a solar project as part of its efforts of ensuring the country reduces its dependency on the electric grid. Econet Wireless also recently invested over $250 million into a solar power systems project.
Steward Bank Chief Executive Officer Dr Lance Mambondiani said the financial institution through its sister company, Distributed Power Africa (DPA) had set sights at providing solar energy solutions for industrial, commercial and home use. Steward Bank and DPA are both subsidiaries of the country’s largest telecommunications services provider, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
“We have put in about $250 million to put solar products on top of each and every home so that we provide power to various companies and we reduce our consumption of power because it’s an imported commodity,” said Dr Mambondiani.
He also said there was overwhelming interest for the bank’s diaspora mortgage facility.
“We have realized that a lot of people in the diaspora are looking for an opportunity to build back home. So we are giving them an opportunity to either buy houses that we have already set up or give them loans to find a house themselves or buy a stand and build. The performance (of the facility) has been very encouraging. We are currently receiving almost 400 inquiries a day as we speak, which tells us that there is great appetite to invest here,” said Dr Mambondiani.
The mortgage facility is offered at zero deposit, on a 25-year tenure and an interest rate of two percent per annum, the lowest rate in the Zimbabwean market. The commercial bank also launched a mobile banking application, Square World targeted at serving those in the diaspora.
The application provides universally accessible financial services, allowing a foreign-based Zimbabwean to seamlessly integrate their MasterCard or Visa Card to the mobile app and make payments back home in addition to other services.
“Square World for us was creating a platform again for people who are in the diaspora to literally pay for anything that they want here in Zimbabwe, so it’s about cutting the middleman. We want to create products and services that make it easier for those who are away from home who are looking at transacting in the country,” said Dr Mambondiani.
The bank recently launched a $100 healthcare fund to facilitate the recapitalization and modernization of commercial healthcare facilities in the country.