Cogebanque was created
in July 1999, 5 years after the war that left other
banks with an average of 49.5% of non-performing
loans. That was certainly a competitive advantage.
What was your main development strategy when entering
The creation the Cogebanque was initiated by
a group of 42 Rwandan investors. Among them, the
COGEAR (Compagnie Générale d'Assurance
et de Reassurance ) holds 34% and has the largest
share. The main advantage was to have a business
network through those investors, their suppliers,
their clients and second not to be burden with
the weight of the past.
The start was hard and it basically took two years
for the bank to be really operational and to start
making profit. First because the management policy
was not efficient and unclear. Secondly there
was also a lack of enough finance and trained
staff. Now, we are taking up market shares: we
are currently at 6 or 7% and hope to be at 10%
What is the profile of your portfolio?
We mainly deal with SME in the industry, agriculture,
services. We are still very cautious due to the
difficult times those sectors have been through
but our strategy is to keep on supporting SME
as well as importers and exporters.
To enlighten us on the size of your institution,
can you give us some figures such as your total
deposits for example?
Currently, we have a total amount of deposits
of around 12 millions dollars. We have 11 millions
in loans without cautions and letters of credit.
In 1998, the National Bank introduced a new
banking law and some measures related to banking
supervision. How did your shareholders react to
those measures that were not taken into account
at the time Cogebanque was to be created?
The main problem at the time was the increase
of the minimum capital that had to be doubled
up to Frw1.5bn. And, considering the negative
results of the first two years, our shareholder
were extremely reluctant to make more financial
effort to comply with the law. Finally, step by
step the new management showed that there was
potential for growth and the shareholders accepted
to inject more capital and comply with the law
by July 2001.
Today, I would say that the bank has made a significant
leap forward, the management is well structured,
we have a clear development strategy, our balance
sheet is healthy, our clients trust Cogebanque
and I am very optimist as far the future growth
of the institution is concerned.
Actually, we are today facing a growth crisis.
The bank has been enjoying a 400% growth over
the past few months; we are growing too fast and
it is important at this stage to find new financial
resources to maintain a sustainable growth.
Is this growth mainly
related to new management methods or the implementation
of new products?
Even if this is in our plans, we have not yet introduced
any new product so far. We have mainly focused on
improving existing products such as "Banking
at Home", using internet services. We have
worked on improving the quality the rapidity of
our services and a better management of our commissions
and interest rates. Since we are a small bank, we
can adapt easily to the market and provide the most
adequate rates. Our interest rates on loans are
currently around 17%.
To maintain a sustainable growth, the Cogebanque
is looking for new financial resources. Where would
the latter be invested in the first place?
We would invest them in medium and long-term loans.
We currently have resources but mainly for short
terms loans. Today, we feel we are missing out so
many opportunities in the industrial and construction
sectors; you know that buildings and houses in Kigali
are flourishing and unfortunately we are limited
in financing such projects. We are currently in
negotiation with the SFI that is interested in becoming
a shareholder of the bank. Also, we are in contact
the BIO, a Belgium investment fund. I recently met
with bankers from Kenya as well as the Deputy Director
of the Nairobi stock exchange. They assured us they
could find new investors and financial resources
for 10 to 15 years.
So, considering the good results achieved over the
past year and the good prospects for development,
we remain very optimistic for the future of the
Do you have investment projects related to upgrading
We are planning to move our head office to the city
center during the first quarter of 2003. We are
currently financing the construction of the building,
which will be used as a business center and Cogebanque
will operate on the two first floors. Besides the
three agencies we have in Kigali, we plan to open
a fourth agency outside Kigali at the end of 2002.
And in 2003, we will open a fifth agency to the
East of Kigali so that the town becomes well covered.
As a foreign banker, coming from Madagascar,
how do you perceive Rwanda as a potential investment
destination as compared to the rest of the region?
First, I would stress the fact that there is a lot
to do in the tourism sector. I am receiving many
proposal for the financing of hotel constructions
but we are facing a lack of resources for those
There is definitely a will from the government to
boost the economy. We can observe it through the
introduction of initiatives related to the liberalization
of foreign exchange, the ease of capital, goods
and people movements. The government has also made
a lot of efforts in supporting all sectors, agriculture,
industry, tourism and the international community
acknowledges those initiatives. After all, many
things still need to be done. Rwanda cannot rely
only on its basic resources such Coffee, tea. Of
course, a few laws need to be amended or created
but it is on the right track. A lot has been achieved
in terms of the strategies implemented to increase
transparency, to gather the necessary finances for
a sustainable national budget. The new constitution
should be implemented in 2003. Definitely, Rwanda
is implementing all the necessary measures and tools
to develop steadily. The uncertainty remaining the
political climate in the great lakes' region. However,
with the recent peace treaty, the situation will
become stable and favorable for development and