Banco Unico: Setting the Benchmark for Banking (China Daily)

Setting the pace for growth and the benchmark for private and commercial banking in Mozambique, Banco Unico is an ambitious and award-winning bank that is helping to revolutionize the banking and financial services sector in the south-east region of Africa.
A universal bank with a strong retail focus, Banco Unico has come a long way since its creation in 2010 and is opening branches across the country to position itself as a bank of reference in the country. Not surprisingly, given the remarkable impression it has made on the national and continental banking landscape, Banco Unico’s incredible success has not gone unnoticed by industry leaders. In 2013, dynamic CEO and President, Joo Figueiredo, saw off fierce competition to win the prestigious title of African Banker of the Year for his outstanding performance and bold leadership, at the high-profile awards ceremony, which was the perfect stage to showcase the bank’s impressive track record.
The proud industry veteran was only too happy to talk about the enjoyable four-year journey that saw the bank become the sixth largest player in the lucrative sector thanks to a focus on relationships rather than just transactions and its ability to tailor solutions to promote international and local investments.
“When we created the bank in 2010, we started from scratch and designed the bank in such a way that it aims to address issues of the market not being addressed,” Figueiredo explained. “The main issue in Mozambique is quality and delivery of services on time. We want to be a bank recognized by our customers as having the capability to deliver quality services and projects on time. That is our vision for the future; to contribute to and help grow the economy.”

With the vision to be the Mozambican bank for the world and banking partner of choice for international partners and foreign investors – particularly investors from China – Banco Unico is a key player in the republic’s socioeconomic development, as Figueiredo readily acknowledged. “Mozambique as an economic model has been well-conceptualized,” he said. “The model we want in this country is diversification; we don’t want an economy concentrated on coal or gas. We have opportunities for infrastructure, health, education, agriculture. According to our latest data, the bank is performing well and Mozambique’s Gross Domestic Product is growing according to the government’s forecast.
“When we are operating in this country, we put a strong focus on relationships. The future of this business is relationship-based and this is what differentiates us from the competition. We believe people want to see banks as a partner not just an institution. This makes the difference and we carry this philosophy throughout the bank, through training of staff and delivery of services, and we want our clients to recognize this.”
Turning to Mozambique’s flourishing relationship with China, the senior executive outlined the comprehensive strategy Banco Unico has adopted in order to take advantage of the myriad of business opportunities this partnership has created and underlined the mutually-beneficial connections with major foreign partners including Chinese Banks.
“We are one of the main banks in Mozambique for Chinese players,” he added. “We have a lot of Chinese companies working in Mozambique and they work through us. One of our main managers in our corporate division speaks Mandarin.”
“Mozambique has had a very long-standing relationship with China due to its strategic geographical location. We have traded before and there are Chinese communities living in Mozambique. The Chinese are doing great work in several sectors,” he said.
(China Daily 03/11/2015 page5)
Source: Business