24 March, 2011


New Year has started with novelties for Bank Constanta, one of the leading banking institutions of Georgia. Rural finance still stays one of the most inconvenient spheres for Georgian banks. Let’s see what the viewpoint of Constanta Bank is regarding this issue. 

Q. What can you say about your future plans?
A. It’s paramount for us to identify what kind of product our customers expect from us; what they need.

We would like to offer high quality, modern banking products and tools. Georgian consumers will see many new products soon. But let’s speak about it later.”
This is the closing part of our interview with Levan Lebanidze, General Director of Bank Constanta that took place on 20 September, 2010 (See Georgian Journal, issue No. 32(163). Mr. Lebanidze mentioned then that some changes and new products were expected. So, the time of new products has come and today the Bank is proud to offer new services to its clientele. For this purpose we visited Mr. George Gogua, Head of Marketing and PR Department of Bank Constanta.

Q.  Mr. Gogua, before you tell us about the novelties you intend to implement and new products you offer to your customers, let’s look back and remind our readers the history of Bank Constanta. I cannot recall any other microfinance institution on the Georgian financial market that later was transformed into a banking institution.
A. Bank Constanta appeared in Georgian banking space in July 2008, though it was established in 1997 as a microfinance company. Constanta was one of the pioneer microfinance institutions that started to credit small businesses at that time.
Appropriate strategic direction, efficient management and professional staff helped Constanta acquire a leading position on the microfinance market that contributed much to develop Georgia’s economy by supporting thousands of business projects.
Bank Constanta is a full-service bank providing easily accessible high quality financial services with special focus on small entrepreneurs. We believe that by offering adequately tailored banking services we support increasing living standards of our costumers, thus creating lasting social value for the communities in which we operate.
Constanta was the first microfinance company that later was transformed into a banking institution. And you are quite right – this is the first and the last case of such transformation on the market so far. Frankly, it was not so easy.  Transformation procedure was followed by very hard days and months for the whole country. Nevertheless, Bank Constanta quickly overcame difficult economical and financial situation and managed to offer its customers most of banking services.
Before transformation Constanta had a well prepared base for development of different retail products, be it a long-standing experience of credit business, efficient credit portfolio of loyal customers or countrywide developed, well organized branch network. Hence, in spite of existing difficulties, Bank Constanta managed to prepare new banking products and services to its existing and potential clients, and this tendency will continue this year.

Q.  Have you already introduced any new products or services this year or do you plan to do it in the near future?
A.  Both, I’d say – we already have done it and we intend to in future. We have already launched our new depository system with the highest interest rate – 17% p.a.. Currently all our branches invite the consumers to open Term, Cumulative, On-call and Child Deposits.
As the main idea of transformation from microfinance into banking institution was based upon the customers’ demands, that imply not only credit products but overall financial services, from time to time Bank Constanta conducts in-depth surveys of customers’ demands and every single product and service is introduced in compliance with the results of such surveys. Hence, it is not difficult to explain the achievements fixed by attraction of deposits in the first quarter; namely, in spite of decreasing tendency of overall deposits in banking sector of the country, in the beginning of the year, we managed to attract deposits exceeding our expectations by 456%. This is determined, on the one hand, by trust proved by many years and, on the other, by customer oriented services.  
Q. 456%! Really impressive figure! Mr. Gogua, what can you tell us about your regional activities?
A. We are rather active in the regions though we expect more in future as together with “Borun AgroChemistry Ltd.” we have launched a new rural project and are ready to assist farmers. The new project is aimed at development of rural sector and it enables farmers to buy by installment payments chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other products of vital importance for any farmer. Besides, we are flexible to offer our customers grace period up to 7 months, which means that a farmer will not pay for the above products before realization of his harvest.
It’s worth of mentioning that this banking product is brand new for Georgia’s banking sector and there is no analogue of installment payments of such a type. And this is one more proof that our strategy is to provide the market with customer oriented banking products.
By the way, Constanta (I mean microfinance) was one of the first financial institutions that started to finance agricultural sector and acquired huge experience in this direction. We acknowledge that agriculture is one of the most important fields for development of our country and that’s why this is one of our priorities.

Q. Well, rural finance is a risk-bearing product. How do you intend to cover such risks?
A. At present Bank Constanta does not have its own insurance company, though we have some other instruments to solve the issue. But I wouldn’t like to promulgate this right now.

Q. We are mostly talking about innovations and future plans. What happened in 2010 of which the Bank could  be proud of?
A. The year 2010 was very important for our institution. I’d say it was the year of the turning point in the post-crisis Georgia. The past year was positive for Constanta as the overall loan portfolio totaled GEL 83 million and exceeded the previous year’s data by 66%. Customer base was increased too by 36%. By 1 February our profit hit GEL 240000 and we were 7th in the list of the Georgian banks by net profit. 
As to our current year plans and strategy, we plan to become the bank of the first choice for micro, small and medium businesses, to  provide our customers with cost effective high quality and customer oriented banking services in order to support them  develop their businesses, create additional jobs, improve living standards and  provide their families with better future.
Our main goal is to approach our customers closer and offer them universal banking service. Out of our 21 branches 15 are in the regions. We intend to widen our branch network.
And one more news for our customers – in the first half of the year Constanta ATMs will be available for our cardholders that will save their expenditures. And till the year end we will offer a number of new products to our devoted and potential customers.

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