Ashraf Esmael, CEO, Bramer Bank, opened up to AfricaMoney on how the bank made significant investments to modernise its core banking system, strengthened its human capital and extended its geographical footprint to get closer to customers. Our financial expert also provided us with key insights into the rebranding exercise following the bank’s merger with Mauritius Leasing, its green initiatives and its success mantra in the competitive banking sector of the island economy.

  •  Bramer Bank was recognised as the fastest growing bank in Mauritius at the International Finance Awards in December. What were the key factors behind this win?

Since its very creation, Bramer Bank has empowered itself to achieve its vision of becoming a leading banking institution in Mauritius and the region. In line with a clear strategic plan, significant investments were made with regards to the modernization of its core banking system, the creation of an eBanking platform, the strengthening of its human capital, the extension of its geographical footprint across the country (from 6 to 20 branches and 5 to 28 ATMs) to be closer to the customer and the development of new product lines such as credit cards and new business segments such as private and international banking.

A clear vision and intense focus, combined with key strategic investments as well as a young and talented team of professionals have all contributed to bring the Bank to new heights.

  • As one of the fastest growing banks in Mauritius, with total assets exceeding USD 410 million and with over 80,000 customers across Retail, Private, Business and International Banking, what is your success mantra?

Our Mission Statement is our success mantra: To generate enhanced shareholder returns through delivery of excellent, differentiated banking products and services to growing businesses and aspiring individuals. It is through the realization of this ideal every single day that we constantly raise the bar higher and dream beyond what is possible.

  • The Bank is currently on the lookout for a Chief Operating Officer (COO) to strengthen its management team. How is the COO expected to contribute to the wider strategy of the bank?

The Chief Operating Officer will need to ensure that the Bank’s systems and operational infrastructure support outstanding execution of its strategic initiatives and have robust internal controls in place to consolidate Bramer Bank’s market position in the retail banking segment.

Bramer Bank believes in keeping customers at the centre of its focus and delivering excellent customer service is a key priority. The COO will be expected to continually work towards improving our service delivery platforms.

  • The Bank has been going from strength to strength since its merger with Mauritius Leasing in May 2012. Can you mention some of the key benefits from this restructuring?

The merger between Bramer Bank and Mauritius Leasing in May 2012 aimed at combining the expertise and client franchise of these two institutions. It is the realization of a shared vision to provide a more comprehensive service and a wider range of financial solutions under one roof to the combined client base of these two financial institutions.

The most visible event was the rebranding exercise in May 2012 which saw the birth of three other brands, ‘Bramer Leasing’, ‘Bramer Micro Finance’ and ‘Bramer Private Banking’. Over the months following the merger, a synergy emerged between the various components of these two entities, with necessary adjustments on a human, organisational and customer relationship level. Here, I wish to acknowledge and thank our employees who have contributed to the success of the merger and set the right foundations for the new larger entity which enabled us to reap the rewards of this shared vision.

  • With a Sustainability index planned by the SEM, how is Bramer Bank planning to leverage this platform to showcase its green accounting practices?

The implementation of a Sustainability index by the SEM is a great initiative since the investors would be able to assess companies on their commitment to long-term economic, social and environmental asset management plans. Such an index can be modelled on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) which are the longest-running global sustainability benchmarks worldwide and have become the key reference point in sustainability investing for investors and companies alike.

We are already known for the preservation of the Mauritian architectural legacy through the refurbishing of a historical building located in the buffer zone of the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site to house our new headquarters since November 2013. Bramer Bank is also actively engaged on the preservation of the environment and will soon be moving the bulk of its back office operations to Bramer House in Ebène, a building that has been awarded in the category “Green Design, Building, Development and Land Use” in the Green Africa Awards 2012.

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