Al Qalam Correspondent
Responding to exceptional growth in Islamic banking in the Gauteng region, Al Baraka Bank this week officially opened its Rosebank branch which previously was a dedicated foreign exchange bureau.
The move formed part of a bank-driven initiative to meaningfully boost Al Baraka’s presence in Gauteng in the face of the unprecedented growth of the region and unparalleled interest in Islamic banking there. In addition to the Rosebank conversion, the bank has also relocated its regional office from Killarney to Rosebank and undertaken the major upgrade of its increasingly popular Laudium Branch in Pretoria, all designed to meet appreciably increased demand for its services.
With its head office in Durban, the bank has rapidly grown its national presence by locating branches strategically across the country since inception in 1989.
Commenting on the growth in demand for Islamic banking and changes to the financial institution’s Gauteng footprint, bank Chief Executive, Shabir Chohan, said: “Gauteng has shown unmatched growth. In 2016, Econometrix estimated the country’s GDP growth rate to be 0,3%, or approximately R3,1 trillion, to which Gauteng contributed some 35%. This reflects the importance of the region to the country’s economy and the potential for its future growth. The population of Gauteng grew from 19% of the national average in 1994 to more than 24% in 2016 and, with it, interest in and heightened demand for Islamic banking, triggering the decision for us to substantially upscale our Gauteng infrastructure.”
The bank’s first branch in Gauteng opened in 1993 in Laudium, with another in Fordsburg in 1996 and one in Lenasia in 2003.
“In view of Gauteng’s economic growth, we have recognised the need for Al Baraka Bank services at the very heart of this economic hub; services designed for the professional sector. With this knowledge, in 2015 we opened our first concept outlet and dedicated foreign exchange facility in Rosebank and, pleasingly, our vision was confirmed, given that this bureau has proved exceptionally popular since inception. This was followed by establishing the Al Baraka Gauteng Regional Office, now home to both our Corporate and Professional office facilities,” said Chohan.
The bank’s former dedicated foreign exchange bureau, positioned at The Zone in the trendy Rosebank business area and home to a large number of professionals, now operates as a fully-resourced branch, offering the bank’s complete bouquet of products and services. In addition, this centralised footprint has been further enhanced with the relocation of the bank’s Killarney-based facility, creating the Gauteng Regional Office at Rosebank Mall. The move from Killarney has been met with instant acclaim.
In Pretoria, the bank’s busy Laudium Branch has undergone a major refurbishment, more than doubling the facility’s floor space and providing for dedicated teller and foreign exchange points, consultant business areas, meeting rooms, an internet station and a greatly improved customer seating area.
“The infrastructural developments we have undertaken in Gauteng are all geared to enable the better servicing of our rapidly growing number of business and private clients in Gauteng,” said Chohan.