A Presidential Decree Article 30 on the morning of April 19th, 1963 gave rise to the formation of the first commercial bank in Rwanda. The decree allowed the bank to operate under the name “Commercial Bank of Rwanda” and thereafter a banking licence was issued on May 25th, 1963 by the then regional regulator of Ruanda-Urundi (Banque d’Emission du Rwanda et du Burundi).

This significant event triggered the opening up of a financial services industry in Rwanda. The local regulator, BNR (Central Bank of Rwanda) was established the following year.

BCR has therefore pioneered the growth of the financial sector as we see it in Rwanda today. This pioneering spirit sees BCR in 2013 not only as a local financial player but now as a proudly recognised regional bank.

At inception the majority shareholder was SFOM (Société Financière pour les Pays d’Outre-Mer) based in Geneva who held, a 86 per cent holding in the bank. In June 1999 Banque Bruxelles Lambert (B.B.L) acquired the entire shareholding of SFOM. After being acquired by ING Group, the former B.B.L sold all its shares to the Government of Rwanda.

In December 2004, BCR marked another milestone when it was privatized and acquired by Actis LLP, a fund manager based in the UK who acquired an 80 per cent holding in the bank, with the Government of Rwanda retaining 19.8 per cent and individuals holding 0.2 percent. Since Actis’ acquisition the Bank grew rapidly over the years and is now one of the foremost banking institutions in Rwanda. This position was enhanced when in July 2012, Actis Capital divested from BCR by selling its shareholding to the Kenyan based, i&M Bank Group. The shareholding then became i&M Bank Ltd., 55 percent, PROPARCO 12.5 percent and the German Investment Corporation (DEG) with 12.5 percent. The Rwanda Government and individual shareholders still retained their 20% shareholding in the bank.

Over the years, the BCR brand has registered tremendous achievements having a strong reputation of reliability, solidity and innovation with a passion to serve and satisfy its customers; from its first client in 1963 to a more than 30,000 strong customer base today. BCR ranks second by profitability, having posted a Rwf 4.2 billion profit after tax in 2012, up from Rwf 2.86 billion the previous year. The bank’s management takes pride in observing that the ratios used to determine efficiencies are rated the best on the market. After 50 years of banking experience, BCR has pioneered the launching of most products used in the market today.

These products have included Home loans, Trade Finance, Personal Banking, Lease Financing, Long Term Investment finance, syndicated loans and Online/Mobile Banking. BCR which is among the top five largest tax payers in Rwanda has received a number of accolades, including RRA’s recognition for being the first bank to successfully implement electronic Tax payment services (Bcr eTax). Internationally, the Global Finance recognised BCR as the Best bank in Rwanda, 2013.
The Force behind BCR’s Success
BCR considers its staff as its most valuable asset and is committed to fulfilling its vision “To be a company where the best people want to work”. The bank provides every opportunity for staff to develop themselves and to progress within the organisation. In this regard the bank has spent some Rwf 500 million over the past five years on training and development. During this period 10 sponsored graduates have qualified as MBA’s (4), Omega Certified Credit Analysts (4) and ACCA (2). Internal and external training continues as a high priority. Furthermore, the bank is gender sensitive and has gone a long way in achieving a good balance in its staff composition. Of its current 276 employees 47 per cent are female and 53 per cent male. Executive management committee comprises of 6 female and 8 males. The bank boasts a staff retention rate of 98 per cent in the last two years. Community engagement, particularly in Health, Education and Environment, forms a key commitment of the bank, board, management and staff.
The BCR brand has registered
tremendous achievements
having a strong reputation of
reliability, solidity and
innovation with a passion to
serve and satisfy its customers

Regional Presence
As a fully fledged member of the i&M bank group, BCR has widened its footprint to become a competitive player in the region, with 55 branches spread in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius. This makes for easier banking for its clients who require cross-border financial services. The Brisk transfer product has proved very popular with cross border clients, whereby the bank arranges fast, secure and reliable transfer of funds between the countries mentioned.

The Future
In celebrating its 50th anniversary BCR remains focused on its customer obsession and continued innovative product development to best serve the expectations of its clientele and maintaining best quality people with the highest ethical standards. In striving for these goals management objective is that a customer will say with Pride- My Bank, A shareholder “I am proud to own BCR shares”, and Staff to say with a sense of pride and attachment “I Work for BCR”.

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