With a growing customer base and a widening range of services for its clients, Omdurman National Bank is well placed to benefit from Sudan’s economic growth. General Manager Yahia Mohamed Mukhtar (YM) explains why ONB has been recognised internationally as the country’s best bank
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LE: Can you give us an overview of the activities of Omdurman National Bank (ONB) and what makes it so successful?
YM: Our bank here focuses on local activities, but also deals with international financial matters. This is limited to certain parts of the world, as Sudan is still under the American embargo. The banking sector in Sudan is over 100 years old, so we have experience in managing difficult situations and working hand-in-hand with all parties to overcome any obstacles that are imposed on us.
Many factors lie behind our position as the country’s leading bank. We have a wide customer network, which is important and is the basis of every well-functioning bank. We have a very strong relationship with all our different types of customers, who are investors, individuals and corporates. This makes our business very fruitful. Apart from the relationship with customers, we also focus on corporate financing and large project financing. This focus has allowed ONB to be a leader in the market since its inception in 1993 and to guide the sector towards more development.
LE: In 2015, ONB received The Banker magazine’s award as the best bank in Sudan. Can you tell us about the importance of this award and how it has helped your activities in the international community?
YM: For our bank, it was definitely very positive and created a momentum with the international business community. This award is a great recommendation and will help the bank to obtain more international finance and financial facilities. It created a credible position for ONB and enhanced our market share in the banking sector as well, to about 30%. The volume of investment rose 18% and gross profit grew by 60% between 2014 and 2015.
LE: The backbone of every country’s economy are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a business and need to obtain financing from the bank?
YM: The Central Bank of Sudan has set a quota for SME lending at 12%. Currently, 13% of ONB’s loans are for SMEs, which means we are exceeding the Central Bank’s quota. This sends out a strong message that ONB believes in entrepreneurs and is also supporting them by giving credits to new businesses. We are the only bank with such a big portfolio for microfinancing, which definitely has a positive effect on the Sudanese economy. New businesses mean new jobs, and new opportunities for the local people. Every business that grows will subsequently create more jobs.
LE: What would be your message to foreign investors who want to come to Sudan? How can they partner with you and add value to the bank?
YM: We can obviously finance projects that are being carried out in different sectors of the economy. There are a lot of investment opportunities in Sudan, and we can be the partner of choice for financing them. The laws and regulations for investment have been reviewed recently, which has enhanced the investment climate in the country. The banking environment is also very favourable, with some small constraints due to the sanctions, but in one way or another we can find ways to practice our banking activities. ONB is open to any investor. Our current investor clientele is very happy with our services and we stand by them in every way we can. The country on the whole has a good inflow of investments; if they grow, our bank will benefit from it as well. More investment means more hard currency.
LE: What is your message about investing in Sudan and being a partner of Omdurman National Bank?
YM: The investment environment is very encouraging. The doors are opened by the very welcoming and friendly people of Sudan. Once investors come to Sudan, they won’t want to leave.
Key Takeaways Omdurman National Bank
- A market leader since its inception in 1993
- An range of customers, from investors and individuals to corporates
- The volume of investment increased by 18% and gross profit by 60% between 2014 and 2015
- 13% of its loans are currently in the hands of SMEs
- WEB: www.onb-sd.com