|Key figures Impact story|
Opportunity Bank Serbia (OBS) is a community bank specialized in microfinance providing micro, rural, agro and SME loans and other financial services to clients in Serbia with difficult access to financial services. Our Mission is to create opportunities for the financially excluded to fulfil their business and life-cycle needs and improve their lives as well as lives of their families. Our Vision is universal access to financial services for all economically active citizens of the Republic of Serbia.
Opportunity Bank Serbia is a member of “Opportunity International” – Network of Banks and microfinance organizations which was founded in Chicago in 1971 and today has over 9 million clients in 22 countries around the globe. Opportunity Bank is active in Serbia since 2002, when it was first established with the support from USAID as Opportunity Savings Bank. The main goal of the Savings Bank was to provide financing to individuals, micro and small businesses excluded from access to banks. In 2005, all savings banks and MFIs providing microcredits in Serbia had been required by the Central bank to comply with the new Law on Banks which closed the category of savings banks and required all savings banks that wanted to continue their activities in Serbia to transform into commercial banks. This resulted in the conversion of Opportunity Savings Bank into Opportunity Bank in 2007 (hereinafter OBS) which was the only savings bank that succeeded to transform into a full-service Bank in compliance with the new Law. Thanks to the consistent fieldwork approach and personalized service adjusted to our typical micro-client, Opportunity Bank is today well-known as the dominant player in the Financial Inclusion industry in Serbia.
Bank’s Chief Executive Officer and President of OBS Executive Board is Mr. Vladimir Vukotic who is supported by his fellow-members of the Executive Board – Chief Financial Officer, Chief Risk & Operations Officer and Executive Board Member Responsible for Business Development. As of September 2018, OBS had 376 employees of whom 265 are front office staff who work in 6 full payment branches and 22 credit offices throughout Serbia. Remaining back office staff and management work in the Head Office in Novi Sad. Some partners of Opportunity Bank Serbia are USAID, EFSE, responsAbility, CoopEst, Cooperacion Espagnola, GLS Bank, Triodos Bank, IFC, Symbiotics, etc.
Board of Management
Sole majority shareholder of Opportunity Bank is Opportunity Transformation Investments Inc. (OTI). OTI supports Opportunity Bank in accomplishing its strategic goals through financial and advisory assistance. Opportunity Transformation Investments Inc. (OTI) is a holding company and investment arm of Opportunity International, which has been established in June 2000 with aim of holding shareholding stakes in Opportunity International’s partner banks around the world. OBS Board of Directors meets quarterly and sets the strategic direction for the bank. Board of Directors consists of 7 members, of whom 5 are independent and 2 represent the sole shareholder of OBS – OTI. The governance of the Bank is carried through independent committees of Audit, Risk, HR, ALM and Social Performance Management committee.
Market focus, products, services
OBS is the currently the only relevant financial service provider in Serbia with the mission of financial inclusion. The bank’s primary product – credit targets private entrepreneurs, small farmers and other underbanked clients in order to enable their economic and social transformation. OBS Mobile Client Advisers spend around 90% of their time traveling in order to serve rural businesses and households with low income and in that way, OBS is able to reach even the clients who live in the most remote areas in order to provide them with the much-needed financing. Over 70% of OBS credit clients live in rural areas of the country, 41% are women (as of Sep 2018). The bank provides loans to 3 main client groups: small businesses and entrepreneurs, farmers and micro personal clients. 90% of the Bank’s loan portfolio pertains to loans under EUR 5,000. OBS also offers savings products to its clients, as well as current accounts and payment services.
Clients who live in rural areas of Serbia and run some sort of small-scale agricultural production as the only or additional source of income have always been in the bank’s focus. As of 2014, OBS processes majority of its agricultural loans through Tablet Application, which enables OBS Client Advisers to approve loans to clients at their locations.
MICRO AND SMALL BUSINESSES
OBS loans for micro and small businesses are targeting registered entrepreneurs and private companies in Serbia, including start-ups with a goal to stimulate the development of entrepreneurship thus contributing to creating new and sustaining existing jobs. In 2016, OBS has developed online Web Loan Application for micro and small businesses.
MICRO PERSONAL CLIENTS
Loans for the low-income pensioners and salary-receivers introduced in 2010 increase OBS outreach to clients with difficult or no access to financial services, especially women and rural clients.
Benefits of being part of the GABV
By joining the GABV, Opportunity Bank Serbia is hoping to communicate and exchange knowledge and experience with the organizations similar to itself who share similar missions and values and adhere by similar ethical principles, thereby increasing visibility as well as strategic partnership opportunities. OBS is excited to start with the knowledge sharing on innovative products and services, networking with global and regional values-based banking leaders and become one of the banks that lead a positive, viable alternative to current banking system under GABV guidance. Cross-learning opportunities, participation in regional meetings and collaborating with other members through the “Communities of Practice” will also help OBS develop the next generation of emerging leaders among its lines. OBS also hopes that GABV membership will help shape the bank’s positive image for the public, clients and staff and increase staff and client loyalty by differentiating OBS from other “commercial” banks in Serbia.