It is a plain truth that most businesses find it very difficult to serve a large section of diaspora as bound by geographical proximities. Times fly and yet diaspora have continued to live in a forlorn hope of having their diverse needs met.
From an informal connotation, they are simply overseas breadwinners and go-getters, having temporarily parted ways with their families and folks as they hope for better prospects of their loved ones.
Tanzania is estimated to register 2 million diaspora residing across the globe. The diaspora community has been equally contributing to the country’s GDP just like the rest of Tanzania nationals, however, the majority of the country’s locals perceive them as persons who live lavishly abroad.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, asserted that the recent diaspora’s contribution to the country’s GDP is hiking at an unexpected level a statement made when presenting her ministerial budget in Parliament.
She said, in reference to the current Bank of Tanzania (BoT) data, that the remittance accrued from diaspora rose from 400 million USD in 2020 to hit 569 million USD mark in 2021.
“So, why fussing about reconnecting with their families, transacting or accessing financial services if still they can add that a lot to their home-land?, she asked.
On that backdrop, CRDB Plc. Bank emerges as a “gladiator” to salvage the diaspora from such hassles with seamless and homelike banking experience.
The Acting Chief Commercial Officer at CRDB, Mr. Boma Raballa, says the bank has for long been straining to bring on board effective and innovative banking solutions that best suit its wider customer portfolio within and outside the country. After impressing its home-based customers, the lender took gigantic steps of establishing its very first diaspora unit back in 2014 with a focus on offering similar homelike services to such a group.
“I can recall that there was a certain guy who once tutored at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and later was awarded a scholarship to study at Harvard University in the US. His salary was still reimbursed directly to his CRDB Bank account. We figured out how to serve this type of customers effectively,” says Raballa.
He notes that the Bank initially commissioned diaspora banking as a desk and improved that product afterwards by launching Tanzanite account. To add frosting on the cake, the Bank attached currency diversity to the flagship, whereas it began operating under the four top-notch world’s currencies that include GBP, USD, Euro and Tsh.
“Tanzanian diaspora can now invest their money or transact via these largest currencies anywhere,” he said. Mr. Raballa admits that over 30,000 diaspora across the world have subscribed to the service since its inception-opening with different currencies. This macro innovation continues to gather traction on a daily basis coupled with increased applications for the account.
Benefits of diaspora banking to the bank, nation and diaspora communities
At the national level, the more diaspora remittances the more the nation’s GDP growth. “Our country reaps such benefits through imposed charges for the operation of Tanzanite account,” he adds.
At the Bank level, it grows its port-folio by securing new customers when these account holding-diaspora decide to apply for either mort-gage loans, asset refinancing or any other loan product and on top of that, it increases streams of revenue.
As the Bank sticks to its central mission of availing diaspora community in reconnecting with their homes, transacting and accessing much enhanced financial inclusion, seeing them engaged with this banking segment translates into the accomplishment of the lender’s goals.
At the diaspora level, the account holder is offered an opportunity to invest his/her money in doubling it in the near future and a scrap of loan product placed at their disposal to make them comfortable.
There are benefits galore for the diaspora with this account apart from the aforementioned one, they can decide to save their earnings with CRDB Bank via renowned world’s money transfer platforms of Western Union, Ria Financials and World Remit, being contractual partners of the Bank. Again, the account holder is never left in the lurch during unprecedented occurrences as the Bank offers them a special KAVA assurance for protecting them and their partners.
The Bank vowed to share all weather with its diaspora customers, therefore, even at the tough times of the death of its account holder, it covers an invoice dispatched by an airline of not more than Sh15 million transporting corpses from the country of residence to his/her homeland.
The aboveboard empathy does not end there, the Bank understands that the departed body will need an escort to land in the homeland before reaching his/her family for a burial ceremony, upon that, CRDB Bank offers the selected escort a return ticket to help him/her attend the ceremony and fly back to his/her place.
Back at home, the family would be rested with the task of managing such a tragedy to its completion. For a disadvantaged family, it piles up pressure on covering costs for burial and here is where CRDB steps a foot to condole the bereaved with Sh5 million for managing the process.
Other adds-on benefits are direct access to the Bank’s internet banking where he/she can sort all of Government payments, buy airtime for mobile and clear utility bills. As if there were no tomorrow, the Bank provides the account holder with TemboCard Visa Gold with which he/she can access all banks ATMs anywhere.
Raballa also states that the diaspora with this account are given a special Public Relations Manager to attend to any of his/her queries.
How to join Tanzanite account
The requirements for joining this account are made simple to help the applicant own the account. He says that the applicant needs to have a biometric passport or NIDA identification card, residence permit or VISA or listed on diaspora register, residential agreement or utility bills receipt.
The Bank’s regional expansion
The Acting Chief Officer shrugs off claims that the bank feels comfortable with its current presence in only two countries across the East African Community (Tanzania and Burundi) and stresses the point that the bank’s silence should be translated into its covert feasibility study of the potential of the regional market similarly to what it did before entered in Burundi.
“For any business to make progress, it should not resist change, but you need to get prepared to receive comments from whom you serve. We would not rush things before entering into any ground, we have been keen on screening other regional markets that favour our business motives and growth beyond EAC,” says Raballa.
He opens up that the giant lender closes in on tapping the Democrat-ic Republic of Congo’s market after having seen the aggressive trading links between the two countries, targeting initially the section of Lubumbashi.
“We understand that the DRC is a landlocked country and has a number of its traders in Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam port for transit cargo to their home country. We want to offload traffic on cash flow and solicit real-time banking solutions to this business community,” says Mr Raballa.
He also reveals that the Bank continues to explore beyond the East African region as it is also informed of the vast presence of Tanzanian diaspora with diverse needs across the continent.
Future strategies for Diaspora
Raballa says the bank is still wide awake to continue to improve the well-being of Tanzania’s diaspora. And one of its strategies is the Mzigo Flexi campaign which is specifically for Tanzanians who want to invest and make a profit but cannot invest in businesses they can manage and instead look for other people to help them.
Within this campaign, the client invests for three years and earns nine per cent interest (accumulating 27% interest for three years). The campaign started on May 17.For a diaspora customer now it means he can invest from Sh1 mil-lion and reap a profit of 9% for three years.
“We continue with internal banking processes to ensure the diaspora enjoy self-service by designing various digital platforms,” he explains.
Aspirations of the Bank
“Dear author, I would say that due to the Government figures, the number of diaspora across the world is approximately 2 million, we as a leading banker who have been in the market for a long time, have man-aged to reach only more than 30,000 diaspora. We still have work to do to reach 1 million plus where we have to keep shouting about the importance of the Tanzanite account which is specific to the diaspora,” notes Raballa.
He says apart from that, the bank’s expectation is to dig deep diaspora details. He says that the diaspora found across the world vary in their fields / sectors, so it would be interesting for them to know the exact needs of engineers, doctors, students, sportsmen, teachers, miners, entrepreneurs to come up with solutions that suit such professional groups.
The pandemic story
Raballa says that despite the glob-al impact of the crisis, with CRDB being part of the world, the operation of the diaspora banking services availed well through its online banking systems underpinned by its strategic Business Continuity Management.
Remarks of the Bank
He says that the bank thanks the diaspora community for continuing to use CRDB Bank services and the bank will continue to come up with more efficient strategies to enable them to thrive.