Catholic Church opens bank in Tanzania

The Catholic Church in Tanzania has opened the first Catholic Commercial Bank in Africa. The Mkombozi Bank will not only offer financial services but also business education to its customers. It was established using local resources from the Catholic community in this East African country.

The Catholic Church believes that if it has to serve the people well, these kinds of projects are inevitable,” said Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, in the opening ceremony for the bank in Dar es Salaam.

Cardinal Pengo highlighted that the bank was just one among many projects - universities, schools, hospitals, farms - that the church operates in the country and that are open to all Tanzanians, without religious discrimination.

Chief Guest at the ceremony Retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi challenged other religions in the country to emulate the Catholics, saying with many commercial banks coming up, people will have good services, get employment and the government will be able to collect more taxes.

"What has impressed me most is to hear that this bank has been established using resources of Tanzanians, without aids from foreigners," Mr. Mwinyi said, just prior to opening his own saving account with the bank.

Although the official opening ceremony of the bank has taken place only now, it had already begun its services in August 2009. Executive Director of the bank, Edwina Lupembe, highlighted the social role of Mkombozi Bank.

The bank finally intends to offer loans to small farmers, to support poverty reduction in rural areas launched by the government. Similarly, Catholic parishes in the US once formed credit unions as alternatives to traditional banks in order to ensure fair dealings in the offering of loans and interest rates.

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