KBZ Bank: Path to Sustainability

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Responsible Business Practices

At KBZ Bank, we are committed to enabling individuals, businesses and, through them,  the country, to thrive. Through our products, processes and policies, we drive progress in ways that are both inclusive and sustainable, improving lives and livelihoods, and promoting development.

Myanmar is a fledgling economy that has opened up in the last decade and it is making a critical shift to a market-driven economy. Being able to draw on the experiences of our neighbours and the latest developments in both thinking and technologies means both the private and public sectors can leapfrog while considering the sustainability implications of growth strategies. 

As one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, KBZ Bank embraces that mindset, even as it fulfils a critical role in Myanmar’s development. And as we ensure a continuous supply of capital to individuals and businesses across the country, our commitment to sustainability and inclusive growth ensures that our activities have a positive social and environmental impact.

We also believe in equitable growth. That is why we build products and services that benefit people across a wide cross section of sectors and social groups. Our priority is to be relevant and accessible to Myanmar and its people and to work tirelessly to strengthen communities and institutions for the long-term, forming the right foundations for nation-building.

“MCRB has welcomed KBZ’s participation in our discussions and workshops around responsible business over recent years, and in particular the leadership they have shown on disability inclusion, and the role they play as a founding member of the Business Coalition on Gender Equality.  We look forward to working with them on other collective actions by business – particularly banks – to strengthen Myanmar’s ability to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Vicky Bowman, MCRB

KBZ’s Pillars of Sustainability

KBZ Bank’s path to sustainability has been both deliberate and systematic. Our Sustainability Strategy, which is aligned to a number of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is centred around three core pillars that address current, continuing and future needs:

  1. Promoting 100% financial inclusion in Myanmar
  2. Driving equitable growth for Myanmar’s economy and its communities
  3. Creating Myanmar’s workforce of the future

Promoting 100% financial inclusion in Myanmar

We believe that financial inclusion is critical to reducing inequality. Access to financial services gives individuals and communities the resources – and an opportunity – to lift themselves out of poverty and improve their quality of life. We give them the tools to begin saving, accumulating assets, and reducing their dependence on public aid and welfare. They can access everyday accounts to save and track spending, shopper loans to finance bigger purchases, and make payments to digital services without needing to hold a bank account. 

That is why financial inclusion is one of the goals that KBZ Bank pursues with great determination. In a country where some 90 percent of the population remains unbanked, we have prioritised digital financial services that bring more people into the formal financial economy by putting banking at their fingertips. Our financial literacy programmes, meanwhile, give them the confidence to manage their finances and make sound money-related decisions.

Digital Financial Services

In August 2018, we introduced KBZPay, a mobile-first approach that created both the technological infrastructure and easy-to-use interfaces that would enable us to take banking to the people. With this in-app mobile wallet, individuals and businesses can save and spend, safely and easily. Instead of travelling hours to the nearest branch to open a bank account, KBZPay has brought banking and financial services to communities across Myanmar through their smartphones. 

Today, KBZPay powers over 290,000 Myanmar businesses, and the daily transactions and payments of 5 million consumers. Half of KBZPay users are from areas other than Yangon Region, Mandalay Region and Shan State, and we continue to reach out to people with little or no access to formal financial services. Our goal is to serve 30 million users by 2028 or half of Myanmar’s population.

The reach and data from this network have also enabled us to develop and deliver other meaningful digital services and encourage business connectivity and digitisation, bringing microentrepreneurs online, connecting startups to a wider base of customers, and enabling enterprises to go mobile-first.

Financial & Digital Literacy

Financial and digital literacy is key if people are to be able to manage their finances better. Understanding money basics also gives individuals the confidence to venture into more sophisticated financial services. This, in turn,  can increase their wealth and provide access to more opportunities. 

When we introduced KBZPay, we recognised that simply putting technology into the hands of our customers, agents, and merchants was not enough. We had to ensure both our users and staff understood the technology and its potential.

To address this, our 18,000 employees conducted face-to-face onboarding exercises for customers, agents, and merchants on the KBZPay network, explaining how it worked, what it could be used for, and how to use it securely.

We also conduct financial and digital literacy seminars at public universities across Myanmar, ensuring new workforce entrants know how to save, get better returns on their money, and protect their digital identities. To-date we have conducted seminars at over 30 universities, reaching more than 1,000 students.

Driving equitable growth for Myanmar’s economy & communities

Over the last 25 years, KBZ Bank has worked to promote growth in Myanmar, with a focus on strengthening its infrastructure, industries, and institutions.

Developing Critical Infrastructure

We finance several of the country’s most critical infrastructure projects, including telecommunication and transport networks, laying the groundwork for future growth 

KBZ Bank has financed critical infrastructure in the country, including telecommunications towers, highways, shipping ports, and natural gas refineries. Collectively, we have created over 30,000 jobs in Myanmar, providing income and livelihoods for communities located in the towns and villages around these projects.

By 2021, KBZ Bank will assess all proposed projects and business ventures against its new Sustainability Risk Assessment Guidelines. Our credit assessment will go beyond a company’s financial performance, and look at the impact its activities will have on the environment and communities. We will also assess if its business goals are socially responsible. These could include efforts to lower carbon footprints, protect natural ecosystems, or mitigate climate change. Companies that go beyond simply complying with labour standards and human rights laws will be considered more favourably.

Powering SMEs and New Industries

As drivers of change in the fast-evolving economy, we enable and support industries that will strengthen Myanmar’s competitiveness in the global arena

Micro SMEs and SMEs account for over 90% of the country’s private sector and 70% of its workforce. Facilitating the growth and internationalisation of this sector promotes the building of capacity and capabilities, and supports sustainable and socially inclusive long-term growth.

As the country’s largest private bank, KBZ provides capital injections to SMEs both directly by broadening access to short-term working capital and longer-term capital investments, and indirectly by addressing poverty and financial literacy. We also bring experience and know-how to fledgling organisations. 

One-Stop SME Banking Center  (OSBC)

Our OSBC, launched in Yangon in 2018, provides SME loan applications, business matching facilities between SMEs and suppliers, counsel on government compliance processes, and SME owner training. Our banking professionals provide SMEs with advice on their growth plans and cash flow projections as well as financing issues and challenges. The OSBC also offers entrepreneurship and financial literacy workshops for SME owners and their employees. 

KBZPay as a platform for SME growth

As KBZPay continues to grow from a mobile wallet to an ecommerce platform, it is fast becoming a digital marketplace for new startups and SMEs to reach more customers. Today, KBZPay is the payments platform for over 50 online merchants in Myanmar, allowing these startups to reach over 5 million customers remotely. 

Supporting women-led enterprise with microfinance

KBZ Bank supports female micro-entrepreneurs in agriculture and traditional craft in remote parts of Myanmar. Through microfinance loans and vocational training, KBZ Bank enables these women to expand their businesses, generate additional sustainable income and uplift their families and communities. A significant number of small merchants in KBZPay’s network are owned by women.

Strengthening Institutions

Institutions are key determinants of a nation’s blueprint for development. We help strengthen the institutions that drive development and growth.

Myanmar is a country with limited resources and nascent institutions and infrastructure. 

As a responsible corporate citizen and Myanmar’s largest privately-owned bank, we step in where we can, including to ensure a reliable flow of money and support for critical services.

KBZ Bank is also integral to Myanmar’s emergency response and development strategies. Through public-private partnerships, we strengthen Myanmar’s regional and national institutions and help them function with greater support and agility. This includes deploying financial resources for relief projects and immediate aid in regions impacted by healthcare crises and natural disasters. 

Keeping Myanmar Open for Business During COVID-19

KBZ Bank has been integral to Myanmar’s Covid-19 Economic Response Plan (CERP). In the first half of 2020 together with KBZ MS General Insurance, KBZ Life Insurance, Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and Air KBZ, KBZ Bank donated MMK 3.5 billion to support the containment, prevention, and treatment of Covid-19. 

We also activated our global network, allowing us to bring in and donate critical medical equipment and other supplies to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS), supporting frontline efforts. 

Our mobile wallet, KBZPay, is also playing a part in keeping the public safe. Digital payment options enable contactless transactions, minimising the number of customers in branches, and reducing the need for cash handling. KBZPay’s reach also allows us to play a part in public education, disseminating critical public health education messages through our platform.

Disaster Relief Efforts

In Myanmar, natural disasters, including flooding during the torrential monsoon rains, can leave communities vulnerable and cut off access to food, clean water, shelter, and basic services. In addition to donations to relief and recovery efforts, we support the nation’s disaster preparedness efforts by helping to build up resources. For example, KBZ Bank made a donation of MMK 56 million last year towards the purchase of 26 boats that can be deployed to support humanitarian efforts in five regions: Yangon, Mon, Kayin, Bago, and Tanintharyi. 

Creating Myanmar’s workforce of the future

Myanmar is rapidly embracing the potential of connectivity and evolving into a mobile-first economy. Unencumbered by legacy systems, the country is well-placed to make the digital leap. But it will need to ensure that its people can keep up with technological change. 

KBZ Bank has in place both internal and external strategies and talent development programmes to support the development of a digitally-literate and future-ready workforce.

Value Centre Management Model

In 2017, KBZ Bank restructured our over-18,000 strong organisation using a Value Centre Management Model, a revolutionary approach to people development that decentralises control and increases accountability through a flatter organisational structure. 

Value Centre (VCs) leaders have direct access to the CEO, to whom they are accountable, and receive support from other departments, from Marketing and Finance to HR and Legal, in developing their strategies. This results in a model that is agile, performance- and improvement-focused, and nurtures entrepreneurial talent.

Today, KBZ Bank has 23 VC General Managers who are being trained to become leaders, either at our bank or in other companies and industries. 

Learning and Development Programmes

KBZ Bank’s Learning and Development team identifies our needs across every organisational level, from core and leadership competencies to functional and technical competencies, and manages the delivery of training programs to develop them. 

In the month of May 2020 alone, KBZ Bank conducted over 15,000 hours of training for its 18,000 employees.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion bring a variety of approaches and insights into an organisation and foster innovation and creativity. Our bank is committed to meritocracy and inclusion and creates equal opportunities for individuals regardless of gender, ethnicity, background or disability, providing them with the autonomy, tools, and training to succeed. 

At least 55% of KBZ’s 18,000 employees and over 60% of our leadership team is made up of women, and they have equal opportunity to participate, lead, and succeed. Our Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification recognises our Bank’s long-standing commitment to gender equality, including as a role model and through our support of diversity-related events, programmes and partnerships. KBZ Bank is also a founding member of the Business Coalition for Gender Equality (BCGE), a coalition of companies committed to promoting gender equality in Myanmar’s workplaces. KBZ Bank’s Deputy CEO Daw Nang Lang Kham is BCGE’s nominated Chair for 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.

Supporting Youth Eductation

KBZ Bank supports projects and programmes that develop the skills of Myanmar’s workforce and allow them to contribute more effectively to the country’s economic growth. We also actively support  programmes targeted at our youth, on whom the future of Myanmar depends.

Contributions to Parami University

KBZ Bank has donated US$1 million to Parami University to build a 450-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium at its new campus, which will be ready in 2022. The auditorium will serve as a space in which the institution can host conferences, seminars, graduation ceremonies, and other large-scale activities for students, the community, and the public. Ours was one of the largest donations the Parami Liberal Arts & Sciences Foundation received. KBZ Bank has supported Parami University in a number of ways since it opened its doors in 2017, including through a US$20,000 donation in 2018 that went towards providing scholarships and allowances for 33 students, and another US$20,000 in 2019 that went towards full scholarships for four students in the Parami Leadership Program

National Management Degree College Scholarships

In one of the largest programmes supporting higher education in the country, KBZ Bank has donated MMK 72,000,000 towards providing 90 National Management Degree college students with scholarships for the academic year 2019-2020. The scholarships, each worth MMK 800,000, cover school registration, hostel, transportation and meal costs, and as long as the recipients continue to deliver good academic results, will see them through to graduation. KBZ Bank has been supporting these students, who come from low-income households and demonstrate outstanding academic performance, since the 2018-2019 academic year. The programme started with 100 students, 10 of whom have since graduated. 

UWCSEA – Making Dreams Come True 

Through KBZ Bank, sisters and UWC Southeast Asia alumnae Nang Lang Kham (2007), Nang Kham Noung (2009), and Nang Mo Hom (2014) co-created a scholarship programme to support less privileged students from Myanmar who want to pursue their education at UWC campuses worldwide. Two students have received scholarships to date.

Model ASEAN Meeting Myanmar 2020

Model ASEAN Meeting Myanmar (MAMM) 2020 was the first official national youth diplomacy programme held in Myanmar, and also the first regionally recognised model ASEAN meeting simulation by the ASEAN Foundation in Myanmar. KBZ Bank made a contribution of US$3,000 to the event, which was hosted at the Park Royal Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw on 15 February, 2020.

SDGsUN Targets for 2030KBZ Bank’s Initiatives (2019)
Goal 4: Quality EducationEnsure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning● Develop talent and leaders through a Value Centre model, continuous learning programmes, a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and supporting youth education
Goal 5: Gender EqualityAchieve gender equality and empower all women and girls ● Empower women through microfinance
● Diversity and inclusion at the workplace
● Equal opportunity employer
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthPromote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all● Nurture entrepreneurship and support small business owners
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureBuild resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation● Create financial connectivity beyond bank branches by introducing products and services that support a Mobile First Myanmar
● Finance national infrastructure projects
● Strengthen institutions
● Power new industries
Goal 10: Reduced InequalitiesReduce inequality within and among countries●Promote truly inclusive banking by giving the underserved and unbanked access to digital financial services through KBZPay 

Non-financial KPI’sDescription
Employee TurnoverEmployee Turnover for FY2019 was 7.7%

Target: The bank aims to maintain its annual turnover at below 10% for FY2020
For the year ending Dec 2019:
● Total number of employees trained: 101,302
● Total man-hours of training: 228,345

Target: KBZ aims to provide every employee with four man days of
learning per year for a total of 60,000 man days of training in 2020.
DisabilityThere are 16 disabled employees currently working at KBZ Bank.

KBZ Bank works with Recyglo to conduct waste audits at its
headquarters, including:
● Identifying, quantifying, and analysing the composition of the
waste generated by the Bank, and ensuring compliance with ISO 14001-2015 requirements, as well as YCDC and SDG goals

● Improving our ability to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste
● Discovering new ways to improve the current waste management
From February 2019 to March 2020, KBZ Bank HQ upcycled 894.98 Kg
of waste, in line with ISO 14001-2015 requirements, and YCDC and SDG
goals. Total CO2 Offset: 1.809 Kg
EnergyUsage (October 2019 – July 2020):
● Total 130,513,601 MMK (Water, electricity and gas)
● Total 246,673,721 MMK (Petrol)
CarbonThrough recycling 894.98 Kg of paper, plastic, cans, and glass, among
other waste, KBZ has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions from the
combustion of such waste, offsetting 1,809 Kg of CO2.
Philanthropic ActivitiesPhilanthropic expenditure (2019 – 2020): MMK 3.6 billion
*Date of last update: 31 August 2020*