22 Aug Atlantic Bank plays key role in Belize’s economic recovery
Providing financial support across a variety of industries helped reignite the economy
Since restrictions were eased and a sense of normality has begun to return following the COVID-19 pandemic, Belize has made significant strides and is now positioned as the fastest-growing economy in the region. Much of this success has been down to the tourism industry and the emergence of the micro, medium and small enterprise (MSME) sector, two areas which have been suitably supported by the country’s stable and secure financial sector.
Atlantic Bank, which was established in 1971, has long been a key partner to numerous operators within the tourism industry and continued to provide support throughout the pandemic, ensuring that businesses were able to successfully navigate an extremely challenging period.
“Atlantic Bank has historically been the largest lender and supporter of the tourism industry and our unique suite of products continues to serve the sector well,” explains Atlantic Bank Managing Director, Sandra Bedran.
“We also realigned our internal infrastructure to cater to the unique needs of the MSME sector. This led to a brand new partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank to support the development of businesses within this industry. During the pandemic we recognized the role we had to play in financing the reignition of the economy. In order to achieve that, we ensured that companies had the working capital needed to keep their doors open, as well as access to capital to cover the costs associated with updating their businesses to operate in a post-pandemic society. This led to us working closely with retail borrowers and developing individual plans. We are glad to see that our collective efforts have driven growth in the economy.”
Atlantic Bank’s ability to evolve with the times should come as no surprise as the company has been leading the way in Belize when it comes to innovation and digitalization. For the last decade, it has been utilizing the latest technology from SAP, the leading enterprise application software company in the world.
“Atlantic Bank was the first financial institution in the region to adopt the SAP S/4HANA solution as its core banking platform. This underpinned our focus on efficiency and a willingness to leverage technology to deliver the best products and services to our customer base,” states Bedran.
“This has been pivotal in helping us become the first bank in the region to grow our asset base beyond the $1 billion mark, which was achieved in 2018. Then, three years later, we were the first financial institution with a lending portfolio that stretched beyond $1 billion.
Forming strong relationships
With a goal to become the bank of choice for the Belizean community, much of the success Atlantic Bank has achieved is down to the relationships that it has been able to build and sustain over long periods of time. It has also recognized the need to blend technology with a personal touch.
“We have always ensured that we have digital platforms that meet the needs of our customers, but creating personal relationships is what ensures that we fully understand exactly what they want,” says Bedran.
“We have a team of relationship officers who are well-trained and understand the requirements of the country’s most important sectors. That is why we work so closely with the main industries that drive the economy — tourism, agriculture and MSMEs.”
Atlantic Bank has also begun to work more recently with those in the business process outsourcing and agribusiness sectors, providing much-needed support across two industries that are enjoying rapid growth in Belize.
“We see great potential in these sectors and are working closely with those in agribusiness by supporting numerous projects,” adds Bedran. “There’s been a rebirth of commercial coconut farming in Belize and there may be room for expansion across other key crops so there is room to grow.
“We have also witnessed a significant surge in investment when it comes to business process outsourcing so we see great potential in these sectors and will continue to support them.”