Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) and the Namibia Agricultural
Union (NAU) applauded Agribank for engaging them on key strategic issues. These
sentiments were expressed during a stakeholder engagement session initiated by
Agribank with the Unions.
Towards the end of 2016, Agribank approved its new Strategic Plan to guide the operations of Agribank for the next five years. The Bank is committed to carrying out its mandate and creating sustainable stakeholder value through regular engagements in a way that fosters mutual understandingIt is against this background that the Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, held a stakeholder engagement session with key farmers’ unions this week.
The objective of the engagement session was amongst other things to share the key milestones achieved by the Bank over the past seven months, the operating environment, highlights of the Bank’s strategy and its focus for the future.
Detailing progress on the arrear collections strategy which intensified as from February this year, Nghikembua told the unionists that two external debt collecting companies in the names of RedForce and United Africa Group were appointed to assist the Bank with arrear collections.
He noted that the response is very positive as many clients have already contacted either the Agribank offices or those of the contracted debt collecting agents to make arrangements, whilst others have made down payments on their arrears. “We already have commitments-to-pay from customers in excess of N$20 million. This amount increases daily as new repayment agreements are made with customers. We now also have on board the second debt collector and are busy handing over a portion of the arrears book to them before they start interacting with clients. We are confident that we will see good repayment inflows in 2-3 months’ months”, stated Nghikembua.
Nghikembua reiterated that Agribank can only be sustainable if money owed to the Bank is repaid to enable it to lend it further and have a bigger developmental impact as per its mandate. “The clients who are ignoring or refusing to cooperate with the duly appointed debt collectors are doing it at their own risk. These agents have been appointed and are acting fully on behalf of the Bank. We are fully aware that clients will not necessarily be able to repay all their arrears at once, nor do we expect them to. What we do expect is that suitable arrangements should be made to settle the debts over a reasonable period of time”, the Agribank chief stated.
On their part, both NECFU and NAU expressed appreciation to Agribank for recognizing them as key stakeholders as is evident through engagements of this nature. The unions further stated that they are now clear about the direction that the Bank is heading and promised to share the information with their respective members.
Agribank is a state-owned financial institution with the mandate to advance money to persons or financial intermediaries for the promotion of agriculture and activities related to agriculture.
Following the adoption of its new 5-year Strategic Plan (2016/17 – 2020/21), the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (“Agribank”) is steaming full-speed ahead as it transform itself into a model world-class organisation.
Aligned to the Harambee Prosperity Plan, the Bank’s strategic plan has five focus areas namely, the Customer, Financial Sustainability, Employees, Governance as well as Socio-Economic Transformation which are supportive of its vision and strategy. Service Excellence, Innovation and Excellence in Execution will be the building blocks in executing the new strategy. The plan also outlines various key initiatives under each of the focus areas.
At a media briefing in Windhoek, Agribank’s Chief Executive Officer, Sakaria Nghikembua, highlighted some of the features of the strategy.
Key initiatives under the Customer focus area include understanding market insights through on-going research activities, offering relevant products and ensuring the Bank’s accessibility through increased footprint and digital platforms. Other innovative initiatives include the development of products for communal farmers in order to broaden financial inclusion and ensure food security at a household level. Nghikembua explained that loan book growth, interest income growth, cost containment, arrears management as well as non-interest income growth, will be amongst the core initiatives which are being implemented to ensure the Bank’s financial sustainability and thus enhance its ability to fulfil its developmental mandate in the long term.
It is against this background that the Bank is pursuing an intensified arrears collection strategy. The Bank has total arrears of just over N$500 million of the total loan book of N$2.4 billion, which represents an arrears-to-total advances ratio of 21%, whilst the benchmark ratio for development financing institutions is 15%. The sustained high levels of arrears would threaten Agribank’s financial sustainability and its ability to deliver on its mandate in the long-term. As part of the arrears collection strategy, the Bank has appointed debt collectors to assist it in collecting outstanding repayments from clients with effect from this month.
The new 5-year strategy further provides for the attraction and recruitment of staff with the required competencies, attitude and potential, while concerted efforts will be deployed to improve leadership and managerial capacity of employees through appropriate training and development interventions. The introduction of the recognition and reward scheme, performance-based incentives, performance management as well as creating a high performance culture are some of the initiatives under the Employee focus area. A performance management system has already been implemented with all employees of the Bank signing performance contracts for the second half of financial year ending 31 March 2017. New performance contracts are being developed for the new financial year starting in April 2017.
Due to the nature of its operations, the Bank is placing a lot of emphasis on risk management and compliance as part of its Governance focus area. Towards this end, Compliance and Risk specialists have already been recruited whilst the recruitment of a Governance Executive is underway. Upcoming initiatives include the company-wide roll-out of risk and compliance awareness sessions, the implementation of a compliance testing plan that has recently been developed, training of the Board and Senior Management on Governance-related matters and the roll-out of a risk management framework within the Bank. plans to embed risk management, enhance compliance and risk awareness under its Governance focus area. Ensuring business continuity management and enhancing audit and forensic capacity will also receive priority under the Governance focus area.
The Bank also plans to enhance its brand in the market, while extending lending to emerging farmers in communal areas, funding agro-industries and decentralising lending to the regions. Training and mentoring of emerging farmers to improve their production output, through an in-house division, as well as improving stakeholder engagement and granting bursaries in agriculture related fields, are some of the initiatives to support the socio-economic transformation focus area of the new strategic plan.
Nghikembua then highlighted some of the milestones achieved over the past six months as follows:
•Finalisation and implementation of the 5-year strategic plan
•Finalisation of intensified arrears collection strategy
•Implementation of a Bank-wide performance management system
•Inculcating a stakeholder engagement and communication culture within the Bank
•Revision of key policies such as the Delegation of Authority as well as aligning the Valuations policy to market practices. These policies have the effect of enhancing decision-making and positioning the Bank for competition in the market-place
•Taking and implementing a decision to establish a training and mentoring division for farmers within the Bank with effect from 1 April 2017
•Finalising the budget for the 2017/2018 financial year well ahead of time
•Finalising the annual financial statements and the annual report for financial year 2015/16 and holding the annual general meeting within six months of financial year-end as required by law.
This was a singular achievement in many years, which will now become the standard and embedding a culture of conducting robust reviews of the bank’s holistic performance across levels and metrics.
Nghikembua further stated that, despite the challenging operating environment, the Bank has maintained credible financial performance in the year so far. He expects the Bank to meet or exceed its key financial targets for the full year to the end of March 2017.
The Agribank chief explained that the Bank’s operating environment continue to be characterised by increased regulation and intensified competition, while the volatile weather cycles also pose their own challenges. According to him, this calls for considered strategic focus to achieve growth, maintain relevance and ensure sustainability. He said income-growth and cost-containment strategies are necessary in achieving the strategic objectives of the Bank.
Introducing a high-performance culture, embedding customer centricity, attaining financial inclusion, improving service efficiencies as well as leveraging technology and constant innovation, are some of the prerequisites to make Agribank a winning institution.
Nghikembua concluded by listing some of the key focus areas for the rest of this financial year as:
•Ensuring disciplined execution across the business
•Ensuring readiness to implement the training and mentorship division by 1 April 2017
•Delivering financial performance in respect of revenue, expenses, profit and collections
•Rolling out the no-collateral product for communal farmers by 31 March 2017
•Delivering on business process re-engineering by 31 March 2017 to improve service efficiencies
•Finalising performance contracts for the 2017/2018 financial year
•Ensuring readiness for the annual audit, delivering a no qualified audit and hosting the Annual General Meeting in September this year and,
•Sharing what Agribank does with the public to ensure we reach out to all potential customers in both communal and commercial areas
MEDIA RELEASE: Agribank steps into the future as new strategy swings into action
Chief Executive Officer
The Board of the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Sakaria Nghikembua as the bank’s new Chief Executive Officer, with effect from 1 August 2016. Mr Nghikembua succeeds Ambassador Leonard Iipumbu, who retires on 31 July 2016.
Widely regarded as a highly effective and transformational business leader, Nghikembua previously led the transformation of Namibia Post Ltd as its Chief Executive Officer, and latterly served as Chief Executive Officer of Operations at Old Mutual in Namibia and as Managing Director of Old Mutual Short-term Insurance Company (Namibia) Ltd. In the latter role, Nghikembua led the successful integration of the former Mutual and Federal Insurance Company of Namibia Ltd into Old Mutual Holdings (Namibia).
Within Old Mutual, furthermore, Nghikembua served as the founding Executive and Chairman of Old Mutual Finance (Namibia) Pty Ltd (a lending company); and further served at different time-periods on the Boards of Old Mutual Transactional Services, Old Mutual Properties, the Old Mutual Foundation and the Investment Committee of the Old Mutual Investment Group (Namibia).
Nghikembua holds a Bachelor of Economics degree (A-average) from the University of Namibia and a Master of Science degree in Financial Economics from the University of London; and has completed an Executive Development Programme (EDP) from the University of Cape Town. In addition, Nghikembua has completed various Strategy and Leadership courses from the University of Wits (SA), INSEAD in France and the Old Mutual Business School (SA).
Nghikembua emerged as the most suitable candidate to lead Agribank following a rigorous selection process that included an on-the-spot Business Strategy presentation to the Board, a competency-based interview with the Board and a battery of ten (10) Ability and Personality assessments administered by professional psychometrists.
Says Terttu Uuyuni, Chairperson of Agribank: “We are truly privileged to have attracted a person of Nghikembua’s calibre. We are confident that he will provide the necessary leadership to ensure we not only meet and exceed our mandate but that we remain a champion for agricultural development in our country”.
On his part, Nghikembua stated: “I feel honoured to have been accorded this opportunity to serve my country and people in this role. As always, I will apply myself fully to ensure I deliver on the mandate before us. We need to be the pre-eminent bank for financing the growth and development of agriculture in our country. We need to be functionally efficient. We need to have financing solutions that are relevant to both commercial and emerging farmers. And we need to support the growth of agribusinesses in our country”.
Ms Tertu Uuyuni
Agribank Board of Directors
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