One cardinal rule that students of journalism are taught is that as a journalist, your emotions must always be detached from the subject of your story. In other words, if for instance you are sent to cover the Huruma disaster, duty demands that you should not project an iota of emotions despite being a witness to devastation, pain and death.
Being human, adhering to this rule has often proved futile for many journalists.
There are many cases when journalists have been caught on camera overwhelmed by emotions while on the line of duty. A case in point is during the post election violence, an unfortunate occurrence that left many journalists with emotional scars.
As a seasoned business scribe, feeling pity for businesses in distress has not been my style. To the contrary, and any good journalist will tell you, there is always a thrill in the spines of journalists when writing that story that borders on the negative, scandals, boardroom wars and official cover up. To put it plainly, it feels exhilarating to write the story that top execs and boards members do not want exposed.
Then the story of Chase Bank happened by. When in early April it emerged that Chase Bank was a house on fire, albeit self ignited, few took a moment to reflect on the impact of Chase Bank being put under receivership for thousands of depositors, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the staff and the entire banking industry.
In the frenzy of condemning those responsible for sinking the bank and praising Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) efforts of cleaning the mess in the banking industry, few remembered that Chase Bank was akin to a stained treasured house silverware. A silverware that cannot be thrown away under whatever circumstances.
I say this because in a span of 20 years, Chase Bank has managed to redefine the word ‘relationship’ and helped hundreds of SMEs achieve phenomenal growth. While other banks treat customers either as depositors or borrowers, Chase Bank brought about the human touch in banking though with a sense of bravado.
While we do not cordon the business practices that put the bank in the red, we acknowledge that CBK acted in the best interest of depositors and the industry. Indeed the swift efforts put in place to reopen the bank is a clear indication that CBK was determined to ensures depositors accessed their cash soon enough.
One thing is clear though, the putting of Chase Bank under receivership has ferociously shaken the foundation of the banking industry, particularly the foundation on which small banks and deposit taking micro finance institutions stand. Today, these banks and MFIs are even being denied the overnight credit by their big counterparts, something that is affecting their operations.
Despite its shortcomings, Chase Bank deserved a second chance and we believe this was the reason many suitors, both local and foreign, were scrambling to help it back on its footing. Probably with some emotions, welcome back, Chase Bank.
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