BANK OF AFRICA

BMCE Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions answered

 

(i) How does the BII’s strategy align with the FCDO’s development agenda?

(ii) What current investments does BII hold?

 

About BANK OF AFRICA – BMCE Group

 

Among the leading pan-African financial groups, BANK OF AFRICA, through its various brands and subsidiaries, is a banking group with diversified activities and multi-business focus areas, namely commercial banking, investment banking, and specialized financial services such as leasing, factoring and consumer credit, in addition to participatory banking.

 

BANK OF AFRICA is now the most internationally oriented Moroccan banking group with a presence in 32 countries throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. With nearly 14,900 employees, its 2,000 branches serve 6.6 million customers. Bolstered by its international achievements, BANK OF AFRICA is a major economic and financial institution in Africa, with a strong network and a presence in 20 African countries across the continent's five regions.

 

The Bank is also a major player with a strong commitment to the environment and sustainable development, notably through the BMCE Bank Foundation, which promotes education and community development in rural areas in Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa. BANK OF AFRICA also draws on its expertise in impact finance and social and environmental responsibility, relying on an economic model that is oriented towards creating and sharing value, and inspired by a vision centered on the continent's sustainable development.

 

NB: BII holds a 5.38% stake in Bank of Africa

 


Commitment to sustainable development embedded in BANK OF AFRICA's DNA

 

BANK OF AFRICA Group is a forerunner in incorporating sustainable development as a strategic priority under the impetus of its chairman, Othman Benjelloun. Towards the end of the 2000s, the Bank adopted an approach, which consisted of:

 

(i)      Incorporating environmental and social risks into its financing activities by establishing, in 2008, an Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS), the first of its kind in Morocco;

 

(ii)    Launching a variety of financing facilities, sponsored by multilateral partners - EBRD, EIB, AFD…, in energy efficiency – MORSEFF and GEFF -, green value chains - GVC -, gender parity – Women In Business etc.;

 

(iii) Raising awareness among internal and external stakeholders by developing a CSR corporate culture via an integrated management approach, which has had a significant impact (ISO 14001 – Environment, ISO 50001 – Energy, ISO 45001 – Occupational Health and Safety, ISO 37001 – Anti-bribery and ISO 27001 – IT Security).

 

These efforts have been recognised by leading institutes such as Moody's Vigeo, which ranked BOA Top Performer CSR 2021 during 8 consecutive years. BANK OF AFRICA also topped the rankings – 1st out of 90 banks – in emerging markets, 2nd out of 852 emerging market companies (across all sectors) and 37th worldwide.

 

Sustainable Finance with Impact

 

The second phase of this approach began in 2020 with the Bank broadening the scope by adding economic and social development to environmental development. To maximize the potential for sustainable financing, a decision was taken to identify profitable business zones in key sectors for sustainable development in Morocco.

 

From that point on, the Bank’s entire business activity and strategy was scrutinised with an obligation to clearly assess the environmental, economic and social impact of BOA Group’s credit policy and commitment as well as transforming the latter in such a way so as to enhance the Bank’s profitability.

 

Specifically, BOA Group’s sustainable development undertakings were made official with the introduction of a CSR charter based on 6 undertakings, in turn underpinned by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and managed by each subsidiary as well as on an individual country basis: 1. Business ethics 2. Sustainable finance 3. Responsible employer 4. Governance and risk management, 5. Environmental protection and 6. Community interest.

 

Since 2018, this approach has been implemented by 28 subsidiaries i.e. nearly 90% of the Group’s scope, the aim being to foster a genuine CSR culture at subsidiary level and thereby enhance the Group’s overall sustainability performance. In terms of results, subsidiaries’ CSR performance has improved significantly since 2019 with the overall average ESG factor integration rate rising from 59% to 67% in 2022, according to the Group's internal CSR self-assessment matrix.

The next step will be to bolster CSR governance at subsidiary level with each subsidiary setting up a CSR committee and the Bank carrying out a Group-wide CSR assessment in addition to the existing self-assessment carried out by each subsidiary since 2018.

 

In addition, an Environmental and Social Sustainability Committee was introduced in December 2019, which meets quarterly, with the involvement of our shareholder, British International Investment (BII). The Committee’s aims are as follows: monitor implementation of the ESG action plan at Group level; ensure that E&S risk management practices are effective across the Group; ensure that the Groups risk policy incorporates E&S as well as climate risks within the credit approval process; develop and oversee impact finance-related performance indicators; oversee overall sustainability and CSR commitments.

 

Major business achievements

 

In terms of business achievements over the past 5 years, a substantial effort has been made in energy efficiency and green value chains. By teaming up with the EBRD and leveraging the latter’s expertise, the Bank has been able to support more than 130 energy efficiency projects amounting to nearly MAD 600 million, with 85% of funding earmarked for the most polluting activities. MAD 380 million was again disbursed in 2019 in the context of the GEFF 1 and 2 credit lines – Green Economic Financing Facility -, with MAD 80 million already invested in Green Value Chains - GVC. In aggregate, just under MAD 1.1 billion of funding has been allocated to local projects in Morocco.

 

As far as positive impact finance is concerned, based on UNEP FI’s analytical tool, analysis of outstanding loans to Moroccan businesses in 2021 shows that loans identified as having a positive impact totalled MAD 18.8 billion, accounting for 32.6% of total loans disbursed to Moroccan business customers, up 10% year-on-year. In Morocco, key impact sectors include health, sanitation, housing, education, economic convergence, food security and mobility.

 

Efforts made to date in Africa have resulted in nearly CFA 9 billion of initial positive impact funding in Burkina Faso and Togo with progress also reaching an advanced stage in Ivory Coast in identifying half a dozen sectors which require funding. There are huge opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa and the Bank intends to play a key role there. It is worth recalling that only 15% out of more than USD 1.3 trillion of investment made annually in Africa fulfils the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

 

In terms of financial innovation, the Bank has been among the forerunners in the banking industry in launching two regulated tools: (i) a Green Bond issued in 2016 to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and (ii) Capital ISR, a socially responsible and ethical mutual fund encouraging responsible corporate behaviour and sustainable development.

 

In terms of its choice of which business sectors to finance, the Bank has adopted a business activity exclusion list across the entire Group based on the recommendations of the European Development Finance Institution. Adopting a robust approach to monitoring, the Group’s consolidated exposure to totally or partially excluded business activities – alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, arms and munitions and gambling – at 30 September 2022 was 0.23%, well below the 10% ceiling for excluded business activities. The Bank’s funding exposure to the coal industry was 0%.

 

Similarly, the vast majority of investment and operating loan applications are now systematically analysed from an Environment, Climate and Social perspective.

 

To help bolster the process of selecting which sector in which to invest, specific training in sustainable finance and climate finance has been provided to staff – nearly 1,000 managers and employees – over the past three years. Also, ESMS and climate finance training is systematically included within training programmes for new recruits and account managers.

 

Lastly, the Bank monitors the greenhouse gas emissions from its operations. The carbon footprint per employee has fallen from 5.48 T Co2 per employee in 2015 to 4.14 T Co2 in 2020 i.e. accounting for just 0.024% of the Kingdom's overall emissions. In this matter, BANK OF AFRICA has issued a number of strong recommendations for limiting the greenhouse gas emissions from its operations, 70% of which are energy-related. These include replacing old air conditioners with more efficient units and expanding the ISO 50001 energy management approach across the branch network.

 

BANK OF AFRICA, a benchmark for its ecosystem

 

In addition to the various actions and commitments made by BANK OF AFRICA Group, it has been equally important to foster an entire ecosystem promoting sustainable finance, resulting in an exchange of best practices and innovation in the Bank’s procedures.

 

At an international level, our commitment to sustainable initiatives and principles dates back to 2000 when we became a signatory to the UNEP FI’s Principles for Responsible Banking prior to adopting, in 2008, an Environmental and Social (E&S) Risk Management System in partnership with the IFC. More recently, in 2021, the Bank initiated a process for integrating climate risks into credit risk mapping for its loan portfolio.

 

Domestically, some of our best practices have been developed or shared with Bank Al-Maghrib – BAM -, the country’s regulatory authority. For example, alongside BAM, the Bank helped define Directive on financial risk management systems relating to climate change and the environment - 5/W/2021. The next major milestone will be to model, monitor and report on climate risk, based on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures TCFD, as required by the central bank.

 

Similarly, the Bank has made progress on gender issues by launching, in 2018, a specialised Women in Business credit facility, after endorsing, in 2010, the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles. More recently, in 2022, upon BII’s recommendation, the Bank established a unit within the Group specialising in diversity and inclusion and, upon BAM’s recommendation in 2021, it has worked for the financial inclusion of persons with disabilities, in particular, by adopting in-person and digital measures to ensure improved access to banking services.

 

Still on the theme of responsible banking, BANK OF AFRICA is one of Africa’s leaders in non-financial services, supporting solidarity-based entrepreneurship and promoting youth employment. It provides bespoke support for small businesses in each of Morocco’s regions and endeavours to maximise its positive impact on local communities.

 

In 2008, BOA Group launched its Entrepreneurship Observatory aimed at providing an innovative range of services to entrepreneurs. Through four specialised services, it has focused on a target audience encompassing the self-employed, women's cooperatives, small businesses and SMEs:

 

  1. A regional ecosystem was established, bringing together more than 200 stakeholders, for which a dozen or so conferences are organised each year – around a hundred have been organised since 2011 for more than 15,000 small businesses.

 

  1. Specialised training courses were organised for SMEs, via the Bank’s SME Club, in partnership with more than a dozen universities across the Kingdom, and training provided for small businesses via its Entrepreneurship Club, modelled on the IFC’s Business Edge programme, which combines training, mentoring and networking. From an initial sample of 40 small businesses receiving training, 60% saw their turnover rise by 40% or more after one year with an additional 2.5 jobs created on average by each small business.

 

  1. The Blue Space incubator network was launched in partnership with the Kingdom’s main training centres – universities, vocational training institutes and tertiary and higher educational establishments through expertise-based public-private partnerships. BANK OF AFRICA was also retained by the Greater Casablanca Region and the Public Vocational Training Organisation to co-manage their incubator.

 

  1. SMART Bank was established as a regional Open Innovation program for students and young would-be entrepreneurs. Each year, 12,000 youngsters are given entrepreneurship awareness training, 700 are coached and 30 selected to join the Group's incubators.

 

Through this entire process, BANK OF AFRICA Group has established a reputation as a credible partner at the regional level, whose expertise is recognised in helping foster income-generating activities and promoting the inclusion of women and vulnerable communities.

 

Finally, BANK OF AFRICA has been one of the major actors of philanthropy in Morocco with the allocation up to 4% of its gross operating income to the Foundation BMCE Bank, under the presidency of Leila Mezian BENJELLOUN.

 

The Foundation promotes access to education for African youth through the Management of 69 schools in rural areas in Morocco, Senegal, Congo Brazzaville, Mali, Rwanda and Djibouti, representing 12,000 or so pupils. Similarly, 2,000 people - 53% of whom are women - have benefited from community-based development and 12,000 rural people have had access to literacy programs.

 

These numerous actions have been crowned with several awards, including the Wise Award from the World Innovation Summit for Education in 2013, the Middle East Institute Visionary Award in 2019, the Moroccan Wissam Alaouite of Al Arch in 2016, the Bridging Leadership Award from the Rockefeller Foundation in 2016 and the Insignia of Officer of the French Legion of Honor in 2020.

 

Appendices – Main initiatives carried out by subsidiaries and consolidated as part of CSR self-assessment exercises

 

Undertaking 1 – Business ethics

- Ensuring that all BOA subsidiaries have adopted formal policies for complying with business ethics when managing relations with stakeholders: preventing corrupt practices, money laundering and terrorist financing, insider dealing offences and disseminating sensitive information; policies for preventing, detecting and managing conflicts of interest; implementing a whistle-blowing policy; policy on corporate gifts, invitations, etc.

- Committed to information systems security including cyber-attacks and protecting the personal data of customers and staff.

- Implementing a structured responsible purchasing strategy.

 

Undertaking 2 – Sustainable finance

- Applying new ESMS procedures for investment and operating loans and monitoring exposure to the exclusion list.

- Bolstering the ESMS expertise of staff (CSR managers, risk analysts, risk managers, sales representatives, lawyers, General Management).

- Complying with various requirements such as the SFI, WAEMU’s CCRH, etc.

- Financing impact projects, health, education, agriculture, etc.

- Ensuring that subsidiaries demonstrate that their loan portfolios include loans to businesses owned by women, youngsters and vulnerable communities.

 


Undertaking 3 – Responsible employer

- Subsequent to the Group endorsing Women’s Empowerment Principles, all subsidiaries are committed to promoting gender parity within the workforce and in their business activities, non-discrimination, promoting equality opportunity between genders, M/F parity in all HR processes and ensuring that means of redress are effective.

- Implementing Group HR policy and developing employees’ skills by adopting dynamic proactive career management programmes.

- Ensuring that subsidiaries adopt best practices and standards in occupational health and safety and mitigating risks.

- Establishing noteworthy initiatives in terms of respecting fundamental rights at work e.g. implementing a policy to prevent moral and sexual harassment

 

Undertaking 4 – Governance and risk management

- Ensuring that subsidiaries’ Board of Directors are fully aware of ESG issues via appropriate governance channels.

- Ensuring that BOA subsidiaries submit an annual CSR report to their respective Board of Directors each December.

 

Undertaking 5 – Environmental protection

- Noteworthy initiatives launched by subsidiaries to improve their environmental footprint and reduce energy consumption.

- Incorporating eco-responsible practices in development and construction work.

 

Undertaking 6 – Community interest

- BOA Foundation report: more than EUR 2.9 million have been allocated to 95 projects aimed at improving access to education, health and living conditions for thousands of vulnerable children and families in seven countries. Noteworthy impacts include:

     5,000 school children have benefited from improved learning conditions thanks to the construction or renovation of 80 classrooms

     800 students have received an introduction to digital technology through our digital classes

     6,000 women have participated in screening campaigns for women’s cancers

     12 health centres/maternity clinics have been built and equipped to ensure a minimum of 3,000 consultations per year.

 

 

     Brahim BENJELLOUN-TOUIMI

     Director and General Manager                                                                     

February 3rd, 2023

 

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