“The clients know that they are in the center of AccessBanks thinking and doing.“: interview with Andrea Hagmann, Member of AccessBank Azerbaijan Supervisory Board

21 December 2022

Ms Hagmann, in your opinion, what social impact did AccessBank had during ist 20-years history on Azerbeijani economy?

The MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium enterprises) are the driving force of an economy and who make economies more resilient in crises situations. Therefore it is crucial to provide adequate financing services to this sector.

20 years ago AccessBank was created to help to MSMEs thus contributing to a more inclusive financial system in Azerbaijan. The Bank played a crucial role in developing a healthy and stable MSME sector by providing these companies with specialized financial products. Today it has a vast knowledge and a longstanding experience in serving small enterprises that need tailor made financial support. Bank staff constantly works to understand the changing needs and demands of their clients and to innovate banking products, which is especially important in fast changing times like we have been facing over the last years.

With its services, AccessBank contributes on the one hand to a more sustainable economy by including micro and small businesses into the financial system. On the other hand, it supports these enterprises in creating good quality jobs and stable income for the population.

AccessBank has been promoting certain UN Sustainable Development Goals for quite some time now, why do you think that is important and why should a financial institution be focused on that?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

If we want to reach these very ambitious goals - and we only have 8 years left- everybody and each institution has to contribute to it. AccessBank has been fully aware of its responsibility in this context and contributes in many ways.

The main goal of AccessBank is providing financing services to MSMEs and thus the Bank contributes to SDG 8 which is about promoting inclusive economic growth and about creating productive and decent jobs in these companies. Every job is a source of income and leads to better living conditions, therefore banking services indirectly also contribute to SDG 1 which is about ending poverty.

But there are numerous other banking services offered by AccessBank that support the achievements of the SDGs. With its banking products for agricultural clients SDGs referring to reducing Hunger and inequalities (SDG2 and SDG10) are supported.

Last but not least I would also like to mention that AccessBank is activly promoting women empowerment with its services and thus contributing to SDG 5 which is amongst others about the promotion of women empowerment. Just recently the Bank joined the UN Women Empowerment Principles as the first bank in Azerbaijan, clearly demonstrating its pioneering role in this field. The UN Global Compact and Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs), developed by the UN Women's Agency, inform companies about international labour and human rights’ standards as well as encourage businesses to promote gender equality and women empowerment.

What are your expectations of AccessBank in next 15 years?

It will be necessary for all sectors but especially for the banking sector to keep pace with the constatly changing environment and new demands and needs. That‘s also the reason why I think, that dynamic and agile institutions like AccessBank are more needed than ever for supporting the MSME sector and retail clients in Azerbaijan.

Already today AccessBank has the ideal infrastructur to play this role. First it has a well qualified staff and a most professional management team, all of them being enthusiastic about the banking business and committed to serving their clients in the best possible way. Second the Bank stands out with best practice standards of corporate governance and transparency.

The clients know that they are in the center of AccessBanks thinking and doing. So permanent product innovation and digitalisation will be part of the Banks activites, but at the same time ensuring secure systems and data protections will be crucial and taken care of by the Bank.