Business News of 2013-12-22

Damongo rural bank makes stride

Since its establishment six years ago, the only rural bank in the West Gonja District in the Northern Region, the Buuwuloso One Stop Bank, has continued to make strides in spite of the challenges it encounters in its operations.
For instance, following a growth in the total deposit liabilities of the bank last year, it increased loans and advances to its customers from GH¢199,000 in 2011 to GH¢332,000 last year.
Short-term investment also increased by over 52 per cent from GH¢80,000 in 2011 to about GH¢122,000 last year. Among the beneficiaries of the loans and advances were farmers, various women groups and other enterprises operating in the area.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the bank, Dr Abu Sakara Foster, who was speaking at the first annual general meeting of shareholders of the bank at Damongo, also indicated that the bank was able to meet the minimum capital requirement of GH¢150,000 as set out by the Bank of Ghana.
He, however, stated that the increase of the capital requirement to GH¢300,000 in 2015 by the BoG now posed a challenge to rural and community banks in the country.
Dr Sakara noted that, “for our bank to meet this target, we as a people must come on board to acquire shares and own the bank as our property to enable us to meet the required stated capital to serve the people.”
On the expansion of its operations, he said the bank had opened an agency at Buipe in the Central Gonja District and that plans were also advanced to establish mobilisation centres at Mpaha, Sawla, Tuna and Daboya by January next year.
Dr Sakara disclosed that as part of its social responsibility, the bank, over the years, had supported several communities in the district in accelerating their socio-economic development.
He mentioned the installation of solar lamps and the extension of electricity, donations to organised group activities in the area and other development projects for the benefit of the people.
The chairman, however, observed that the inadequate support from district assemblies in the area, coupled with technological challenges and the inability of the people to be part of the bank’s agenda, were some of the difficulties confronting the growth of the bank.
“I, however, want to assure you that, we will continue to pursue viable and beneficial programmes and initiatives that will boost public confidence in our activities for sustainable growth,” he stated.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank Limited, Mr Kwadwo Aye Kusi lauded the board, management and staff of the Buuwulonso One Stop Rural Bank for their efficient running of the facility.
Mr Kusi, however, noted that in spite of the successes chalked up, they could still build on the current performance by implementing deposit and share mobilisation strategies, risk management, audit and compliance functions including staff training and motivation.
According to him, the banking business had become competitive and risky and with the current pace of development in ICT, the banks were assuming additional risks.
“The ARB Apex Bank has, meanwhile instituted an ICT security policy that should ensure that risks associated with the implementation of ICT are reduced to the minimum,” he assured.
He announced that the ARB Bank was developing a new strategic plan for the period 2014-2018 that would focus on providing efficient services for the RCBs for improved customer satisfaction and the creation of a platform in which both the unbanked and underbanked may participate.