MKOMBOZI COMMERCIAL BANK, which is owned mainly by the Catholic Church in Tanzania, is just two years old. The bank shows all signs of a fast growing bank because the Tanzania population is still widely un-banked, and it is attracting Christian as well as other sects because of the variety of banking services. Our Staff Writer in Dar es Salaam, James Mwakisyala, interviewed the Managing Director, EDWINA LUPEMBE: Below are excerpts Question: Mkombozi Commercial Bank is among the youngest commercial banks in Tanzania's financial sector. Was there any need to open such a bank in a highly crowded Dar es Salaam city environment ? A: Dar es Salaam city is a centre of economy and has a potential market for banking operations. Despite the abundance of banks, there is still a number of un-banked populations due to unfavorable conditions imposed by the banks and low financial literacy level on part of the population. This inspired Mkombozi Commercial Bank to open its branch with simplified conditions, favored by most customers. FINSCOPE survey sponsored by FSDT has it that only 12.4% of the population in Tanzania is served by banks. Therefore there is an insatiable demand for banking services in the country specifically in Dar es Salaam a melting pot with the highest population. Q: What is the public response to your bank since it was established and opened its doors to the public in August 2009? How many bank accounts have you opened so far? A: The response has been highly positive and we have opened more than 8260 accounts since we opened doors to the public. Q: Who is your target group and what banking products do you provide to date? A: Mkombozi's target markets are small and medium sized entrepreneurs, companies, SACCOS, social enterprises such as schools, universities and corporations. Q: What challenges did you have to overcome initially, and how did you overcome them? A: Competition has been a challenge and this was solved through recruiting competent corporate management and took appropriate control to mitigate risks. Coverage in rural areas is another challenge which has been resolved through joining the 'Umoja Switch' consortium which has ATM outlets all over the country hence increment of outreach. 'UmojaSwitch' is used by over 20 smaller banks countrywide. Another challenge that the bank is facing is that of sending its services to its target group which are spread all over the country. Shares were sold throughout the country and yet the bank operates only with one branch from Dar es Salaam. Branch expansion is inhibited by limited capital. Q:What challenges lie ahead of Mkombozi Bank? A: Due to un-anticipated positive response to the market, we will have to expand faster than planned in order to cope with growth. This necessitates increase in Capital base as afore mentioned. Q: Mkombozi Bank is basically a Dar City bank and yet the Catholic Community is all over the country, so what plans do you have in using the network to expand to upcountry stations? A: The Bank was established as a local initiative to support emerging Tanzanian businesses for provision of financial services. It has a plan to open other branches next year. The wide spread Catholic network will act as a ready-made infrastructure to help the anticipated network expansion. Q:What do you think of the future of the banking and financial sector in Tanzania economy? A: There is prospects for growth and emerging Tanzanian business with the improved Tanzanian economy. With the simplistic business approach of banks like Mkombozi Commercial Bank, the future is promising. We aim to grow the bank in order to grow the economy of Tanzania.