Can small-scale lending make a difference to the world? At Fransabank, we believe so wholeheartedly. In this vein, the Bank adopted and implemented an aggressive micro financing approach helping to forge progress in eradicating poverty. Fransabank micro credit loans were launched as part of the Bank’s commitment to the balanced development and growth of the economy through support to low-income individuals. This is achieved through well-perceived business venue that mandates dedicating specialized teams who conduct one-to-one business field visits to potential and existing beneficiaries. The team members are intentionally selected from the suburban areas. They know exactly the needs and wants of the community. Moreover, the Bank provides them with training to promote development ethics based on rigor, creativity, understanding and respect for the rural environment. The team members are always in direct contact with the NGO’s operating in the rural areas and ensures sustainable development and optimal results.
Specifically targeting areas outside the capital, such as the Bekaa, the South, the North, Mount Lebanon and Jbeil, Fransabank micro credit loans offer flexible conditions that enable individuals to develop their own small-scale businesses or improve and expand their existing ones.
In addition, to reward our loyal micro-credit customers, and to enrich women empowerment, we have selected, in 2014, 25 small businesses across Lebanon based on well-studied key performance indicators and rewarded each one with a USD 1,000 grant. The winners spanned sectors ranging from manufacturing and construction to health, wellness, food, and hospitality.
The key performance indicators for our micro-credit beneficiaries of the USD 25,000 total grant:
Sustainability of their business, minimum five years in the business
Growth and profitability
Expansion of their business activities
The selection process of the winners was based on favoring more women than men. Based on the above KPIs, 13 women benefited from the USD 1,000 grant, i.e.: 52% were women and 48% were men.
In 2016, Fransabank sustained its commitment to stimulate economic growth launching a joint project in collaboration with Michel Issa Foundation and Vitas, to shed light on the microloans programs, and support local micro businesses in Jbeil area, particularly remote areas and villages in the region which suffer from displacement. This plan falls within the United Nations sustainable development goals focusing on creating a balanced development throughout the Lebanese territory and financing small and micro projects.
The program’s main target is the people of Jbeil region and those with simple crafts whose circumstances may not allow them to develop their careers and trades, or in some cases can’t even bear the burdens of debt and interest repayment. The project will offer 60 small loan, half of them in the form of a loan with a zero interest rate, and the other half in the form of donations.
Souad's Success Story
Following the same strategy of the commitment to the national economy, Fransabank was compelled to work on the empowerment of women in the community. In this context, the Bank signed a cooperation agreement with the National Commission for Lebanese Women NCLW to provide financial facilities to Lebanese Women. This cooperation agreement resulted in the launch of the first of its kind “women-targeted” loan in Lebanon: “Najah Loan”. This loan allows women to enhance the standards of living of their families through the development of businesses that contribute to the growth of the national economy in the industrial, services, tourism and trade sectors, while benefiting from reduced interest rates and various facilities such as extended grace and repayment periods. The total allocated amount for the “Najah Loan” is LBP 1 billion.
Fransabank received the Social Economic Award 2012 for “Najah Loan” under the category of “Women Empowerment”. The event was organized by First Protocol in collaboration with the Central Bank, the Association of Banks, the Federation of the Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture in Lebanon, the Association of Industrialists, and the Lebanese Franchise Association
Small and Medium Size (SME) Enterprises Lending
Fransabank supports companies of all sizes – especially SME’s – in Lebanon by operating a fair and reliable lending policy.
We believe that supporting Lebanese SMEs actively contribute to the increase of employment opportunities and to the development of the private sector in Lebanon. For that reason, Fransabank sustained its efforts in assisting SME’s which are the engine of Lebanon’s economy; constituting 97% of the total formal enterprises employing more than 51% of the working population.(Source: International Finance Corporation Case Study on Women and Youth Employment in SME’s, March 2013).
In this vein, Fransabank and the European Investment Bank (EIB) renewed support for SME’s in Lebanon with a credit line of Euro 45 million to finance the investment projects of SMEs. The EIB funds earmarked for financing projects in the sectors of industry and agro-industry, health, education, high knowledge and services. This was the EIB’s fifth transaction with Fransabank under its policy of supporting the economic development of small and medium-sized companies in order to foster economic recovery and job creation in Lebanon.
The total outstanding amount of Small and Medium Size enterprises financing reached around USD 640.22 million as end of December 2015.
SME Seminars and Workshops
The intense small and medium size loans and economic development initiatives launched by Fransabank are regularly complemented by series of SME’s workshops and seminars, providing consultancy services to our existing and potential customers and following and monitoring the financing outcome.
The objectives of these seminars are to:
- Provide clients with basic information and powerful strategies and skills in banking
- Comprehend the market-based pricing for SME products and services
- Understand how financial products are customized to create financial solutions
- Open platform for any consultancy services
- Explore the Bank’s diverse SME’s products and services
The SME’s seminars have tackled Kafalat Loans, Subsidized Loans, Incentive Loans, Energy Loans, and Green Loans. The workshops are a success and always receive excellent feedback from all attendees.
Equity Investments in Start-Ups - Central Bank of Lebanon / Circular 331
Through the Central Bank of Lebanon’s Intermediate Circular 331, Lebanese banks are encouraged to invest in innovative ready-to-scale startups in the Lebanese Knowledge Economy. Thus, local banks are entrusted with allocating equity funding to its most efficient use by investing in:
- creative young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas
- ready-to-scale start-ups
- venture capital funds with solid management team
In addition to funding, entrepreneurs are offered guidance, strategic mentorship, entrepreneurship-focused business training, access to networks of partners and mentors.
In view of that, Fransabank is among the leading banks to embrace the Central Bank of Lebanon Circular 331 into the Bank’s strategic business activities and has taken a participation in three funds: The Impact Fund by the Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) Holding SAL, The Leap Ventures and Berytech Fund II.
The Central Bank allowed, through the Circular 331, Lebanese banks to make equity investments in start-ups, accelerators, incubators and venture capital funds, enabling them to expand their business scope and open up new horizons for entrepreneurs, innovators and investors; thus support to young entrepreneurs.
Supporting Business and the Economy
By promoting entrepreneurship, we continue our commitment to furthering Lebanon’s economic growth and supporting small business owners. In 2007 Fransabank pledged USD 1 million to non-governmental organization (NGO) Bader for its Building Block Equity Fund. Bader was launched with the aim of inspiring and boosting the morale of the young generation, providing encouragement and financial support to entrepreneurs, promoting entrepreneurial education and introducing new financial tools to support small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). The Building Block Equity Fund was Bader’s first major initiative to bridge the gap in funding to start-ups and entrepreneurs. Through donations such as Fransabank’s, the Fund was used to invest in Lebanese small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) that demonstrated potential for innovation, in order to help them forge sustainable growth. Fransabank’s commitment to entrepreneurialism has also taken shape through Berytech, in which the Bank is a partner and shareholder. Berytech’s aim is to foster economic growth through providing incubation, support and hosting opportunities to the largest possible number of project holders as well as growing enterprises operating in the fields of technology, multimedia and health. In its own words, Berytech sees its contribution to society as setting into action “a vibrant micro-economy characterized by sharper competitiveness on the national and international levels” as well as offering easier and faster access to funding and enabling Lebanon to become a technological showcase in the region.
Focusing on Customers
Our success depends on the satisfaction and loyalty of our customers. Putting customers first means constantly analyzing who our customers are, what they require and how well we currently meet their needs and how we can add value to them in the future. Many customers rely on us when investing their savings or buying a new home or car. It is fundamental to our relationship with customers that they can depend on our integrity and that the advice they receive is individualized in their best interest.
In line with this commitment, we continuously adapt and improve the way in which we do our business and monitor customer satisfaction closely and frequently. For that purpose, we:
Launching periodic customer experience research
Use mystery shoppers to assess and define quality service standards
Handle complaints in quick, timely, clear and transparent manners
Follow a strong Know Your Customer (KYC) approach
Keep customers’ information secure
Provide a rich multichannel banking set of products and services to customers with the appropriate levels of support
Engage customers through social media with real-time updates
Reward our customers through appealing promotional campaigns
Strive to market our products in a transparent, consistent and responsible manner.