Sarel van Zyl
CEO: FirstRand Namibia
8 April 2020
Today FirstRand Namibia announced the objectives of its HOPE intervention and relief effort, which aims to assist Government and its partners in mitigating the impact of COVID19 rapidly and at scale.
HOPE’s immediate objective is to accelerate the scaling of Namibia’s COVID-19 critical care capacity over the next few weeks and is particularly focused on supporting the medical structures and resources of the country, particularly those responsible for providing testing and front-line protective care, as well as providing more ventilators and addressing critical bed capacity. FirstRand Namibia has so far allocated an anchor investment of N$10 million to HOPE, funded by the banking arms of the group, FNB Namibia and RMB.
FirstRand believes this objective is achievable as the group is currently mobilising FNB, RMB, Ashburton and WesBank’s corporate and commercial customer bases for additional support, and the bank’s distribution channels and governance structures will ensure funding is deployed effectively.
Commenting on HOPE’s vision, Sarel van Zyl, CEO, FirstRand Namibia said that the initiative demonstrated the value that can be unlocked through effective partnerships between Governments, Foundations and the financial and operational capacity within the private sector.
“As a responsible financial services group, particularly given the valuable capabilities of our businesses, we plan to effectively augment the current Government and other national effort initiatives.” This has certainly been the case in the last two weeks where FNB Namibia has already invested over M$6.5m in fees and charges reductions to support its customers over the next 3 months, while also initiating instalment payment holidays to COVID19 impacted and qualifying customers across all sectors and segments including Consumers, SMEs, Tourism, Agriculture and other large businesses.
Sanitation initiatives, environmental and community support of more than N$2.6m over the past two weeks from the FirstRand Namibia Foundation, in combination with various discounted bank fees to customers to the value of N$6.5m over the next few months, a N$1.5m pledge to Government’s COVID19 Fund, and now the HOPE emergency funding initiative by FirstRand Namibia, delivers support locally of more than N$20m into Namibia’s health crisis economy.
The HOPE initiative has the support of a number of leading corporates, partners and clients of the Group and each funder’s contribution detail will be shared with its targeted relief activities over the next few weeks.
“This is just the beginning of what we believe we can do to combat the impact of COVID19 at where it matters most, in our healthcare system” said van Zyl. “We are really humbled by the willingness of all the stakeholders involved to help our country respond in such an effective and innovative manner”.
HOPE is inspired and supported by the FirstRand SPIRE Fund in South Africa and will work together with SPIRE to ensure valuable supply chain management of COVID19 Relief procurement.
Communications Manager at FirstRand Namibia Limited
Tel: (+264 61) 299 2125