I&M Bank (Rwanda) Plc registered an after-tax profit of Rwf5.1 billion in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic which adversely affected the bank’s clients. The lender reported a pre-tax profit of Rwf7.8 billion with the loan book portfolio growing by 19 per cent Year on Year to Rwf205 billion in December 2020. The bank’s assets closed at Rwf417 billion with shareholders’ funds of Rwf54 billion, a 31 per cent growth and 27 per cent growth respectively. Deposits also increased significantly, reinforcing the strength of the bank’s funding and liquidity positions. Total Income increased to Rwf49.5 billion, up by 16.3 per cent compared to 2019, mainly driven by both an increase in non-funded income by 33 per cent and net interest income by 3 cent. The increase in non-funded income was driven mainly by 61 per cent in Foreign Exchange Income. The bank also reported improved efficiency in its operation and reported a reduction in its operating cost by 3 per cent compared to last year. Robin Bairstow, the bank’s Chief Executive, said that the bank’s results in 2020 despite the economic turbulence are proof of improvements and adjustments in strengthening their core business as well as improved digital capacity. “While the pandemic brought up several headwinds in 2020, the bank’s results in 2020 are satisfactory and evidence that our considerable efforts to focus on strengthening our core business, providing a superior customer service and bolstering of our digital capabilities to rapidly develop solutions for our customers will continue to pay off over the longer term,” he said. “Helping our customers emerge in a sustainable position was our most pressing priority. We achieved this by equipping our staff to work from home at the height of the pandemic and keeping our branch network and contact centres open. Additionally, we put in place a comprehensive support scheme for individuals and businesses including interest rate reductions, online charges waivers and loan extension facilities,” he added. In the reported period, the bank received more than 1,700 loan deferments. All the above significantly contributed to an encouraging 78.5 per cent customer satisfaction rate. “In 2020, it was paramount to emphasize our corporate social responsibility actions. The bank contributed a total of Rwf241 million, of which Rwf153.4 million was personally contributed by the Board, Management, and Staff of I&M Bank (Rwanda) Plc in support of the Government’s effort to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Rwanda,” “Overall, we have delivered a good set of results. Our pre-provisions were broadly stable with notable growth under our non-funded income by 33 per cent underlining results of our diversification strategy implementation and 3 per cent growth in our net interest income. However, we maintained a cautious view of the impact of the pandemic fully materializing and took additional provisions in that effect.” he said. “The bank continues to benefit from a solid capital base after the Rights Issue and with a highly liquid position and is well provisioned for impairments. We remain dedicated to our strategic plan and reaffirm our commitment to be the financial growth partner for our customers and to the communities we serve,” he added. In 2020, the lender issued a rights issue which recorded an oversubscription of 112 per cent raising about Rwf7.8 billion. The development was considered remarkable as funds were raised during a pandemic when capital was scarce and investors hesitant to spend. Some of the proceeds of the rights issue will also go into continued support of local Small and Medium Enterprises which the bank said have the largest impact on the economy in multiple aspects such as job creation and value chains. The bank has adjusted processes and procedures to increase the eligibility of Small and Medium Enterprises to access lending facilities. These include risk acceptance criteria and client acceptance criteria where the bank exhibits patience for emerging firms as well as does not subject them to provisions made for corporates. The bank’s support to SMEs is not limited to any specific sector with the SME bracket including players borrowing less than Rwf1 billion.