A bitter fight over the ownership of the Anakazi brand name is almost getting nasty with a female focused organisation threatening to take to task Stanbic Bank Zambia over the use of the brand.
Over the last few years, Stanbic Bank has used the Anakazi banking platform as a vehicle towards targeting its financial support to women groups in Zambia but a row has broken out over the real owners of the brand.
It has emerged that an organisation called Anakazi Center for Women Empowerment and Development aka “Anakazi” has been branded as a business development organization supporting women in Zambia since December 2012.
The organisation has since approached Stanbic Bank requesting that the bank stops using the name or it partners with the organisation for its women support programmes.
However, Stanbic Bank has decided to add the letter to the Anakazi name and rebranded to Anakazdi which has now angered the Anakazi Center for Women Empowerment and Development who have called the move “deceptive” and “intellectual property theft”.
The organisation has since launched an online signature campaign to force Stanbic to drop the name and admit that it stole the name from an existing and legal entity.
“We support women through entrepreneurship training, mentorship, Access to finance and markets programs, and advocacy. Our online following has grown from 300 friends to over 200,000 women globally. While most Zambian NGOs rely on donor funding, Anakazi has worked from the ground up with no funding or corporate sponsorship. We are proud that we can support women with our own network resources,” it said.
“While we are absolutely flattered that Stanbic Bank chose to adopt the name “ANAKAZI” for its women empowerment program, “Anakazi Banking,” we were disappointed to learn that the bank’s empowerment program was very similar to ours. Our missions and activities are similar, the only difference being that we are not a bank,” it added.
“We also learnt that the Zambian Trademark laws do not protect descriptive words in both English and the 73 local languages. Understandably, a word like “woman” cannot be protected but when this restriction extends to all 73 Zambian dialects, we are left with a moral dilemma to do the right thing when faced with a decision to pick the same name as an existing brand empowering women through business development such as Anakazi (women).”
It says, “even though Stanbic Bank can legally claim use of the word “Anakazi,” it does not make it morally right when a known grassroot brand exists. A simple google search would have revealed that a similar development program named Anakazi exists. The Stanbic leadership chose to ignore this fact even after we formally communicated our concerns of confusion in the market.”
The orgnanisation stated that the thousands of women in its network believed we had partnered with the bank.
“We believe the bank is using corporate power to bully a grassroot organization for its goodwill in the Zambian market. The bank could have picked any other name which means women from the 72 other dialects, so why Anakazi? Again, we are flattered. In other countries such as India such matters have been settled in court and the law has favored those who can prove long term use of a name or phrase. In our case, Anakazi has been a household name for the past 5 years.”
“However, we do acknowledge that a few days ago, Stanbic Bank announced that the women empowerment program, is “evolving” from “ANAKAZI” to “ANAKADZI,” a good move but adding a “D” to Anakazi is not evolving but tweaking. It is deceptive,” it said.
The organisation is now asking Stanbic Bank to innovate by picking a befitting name for their program.
“Stanbic Bank has a moral obligation to practice what they preach. If the bank claims to empower women in business, they should walk the talk not just financially but ethically. Anakazi is a grassroot organization, using the same name for similar activities is promoting unfair competition,” it said.
“Many individuals have also complained about banks and other institutions unlawfully taking proposals/concepts and making them their own. This is not the type of business environment we should be promoting for the women we serve. We must protect innovation which we have learnt in the past 6 years to be lacking among our budding women entrepreneurs. As such, we hold the bank and its leadership to a much higher standard. As a highly established financial institution it is unacceptable to bully an indigenous Zambian organization that has worked from the ground up to build a brand,” it said.
“Anakazi strongly believes in collaboration not copying or thriving on existing intellectual property. We teach our women to innovate, own their ideas through hard work and integrity! That’s the kind of empowerment we are promoting.”
The organisation says it will soon present a collection of signature from an online petition it is undertaking to Stanbic Bank Chief Executive Officer Charles Mudiwa.
Stanbic Bank was not immediately available for a comment but a statement posted on its website describes Anakazi Banking as a tool for serving the unique and sadly often unrecognized financial needs of a modern women.
“Never before has the need for women to juggle so many roles been as pressing as it is today. Today’s woman is a strategist, a wife, a student, a Manager, a Mother, a professional and all the while handling, with grace, everything that life throws at her. Anakazi Banking acknowledges these facts and brings you the banking experience that every woman deserves,” the statement said.