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30.03.2007 General News

HFC To Give More Support To SMEs

HFC Bank has stepped out boldly to tackle head-on the financial problems of small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) with the introduction of the Business Loans Centre in Accra on Wednesday.

The centre which is a one-stop shop for loans and credit, particularly to SMEs, will combine professional management, marketing, auditing and accounting advisory support to administer credit to SMEs.

“The HFC approach to SME banking will focus on providing players in the sector financial and managerial skills, information on marketing and access to markets and acceptable corporate governance,” the Managing Director of HFC, Mr Asare Akuffo, said at the inauguration of the centre at the Central Business District of Accra yesterday.

He said the bank would draw on expertise of management, accounting, finance and marketing to work hand in hand with clients to expand their businesses and improve their earnings.

For a start, the centre will be looking forward to serving about 200 clients a quarter, translating into about 800 in a year, and improve on that to ensure that a wider segment of the small businesses sector, which account for more than 70 per cent of the country's industrial sector, was roped in.

HFC Bank said it would also open similar branches in Tema, Kumasi, Techiman and other SME endemic areas.

“By opening the first Business Loan Centre in the heart of the most vibrant business district in Ghana, HFC Bank is standing to be counted among the few banks in the country that want to and are committed to giving a helping hand to our fledgling small and medium enterprises,” he said.

Mr Akuffo said the banking sector had undergone a sharp transformation to the benefit of clients but the SME sector was yet to receive its fair share of the banking frenzy mostly due to their high risk problems, but said such a universal approach to helping the sector was the most essential.

The Managing Director of Fio Enterprise, Ms Adelaide Ahwireng, who commissioned the centre, said although the industry was beset with a lot of problems, there was still the need for the banks to partner with them to help them to overcome those challenges.

She called on financial institutions to re-strategise by supporting SMEs, since they were the real engine of the country's economic growth.

Ms Ahwireng commended HFC Bank for the initiative, which she said, would enable the bank to better understand the problems of the SMEs in order to device the most appropriate solutions to them.

Story by Samuel Doe Ablordeppey

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