Mr Eric Osei-Bonsu, Managing Director, ARB Apex Bank Limited, yesterday said reduction and gradual eradication of poverty could be achieved not only through micro finance, but also through micro enterprise development.
He said the micro enterprise development should include efficient access to finance and infrastructure development to enable the micro enterprises to operate more efficiently.
Mr Osei-Bonsu was presenting a paper on the theme: 'Impact of Rural Banking Services on the Rural Economy of Ghana' at the on-going Africa Global Sister Cities Foundation Conference in Accra.
The forum was organised for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to explore other means of getting funds to complement national development agenda of the country.
He said the rural banks were the main vehicle for financial intermediation, capital formation and retention and growth in the rural areas. He announced that rural banks had mobilised a total deposit of 285.46 Ghana Cedis in 2007 as against 38.13 Ghana Cedis in 2001. Its depositors had also increased from 1,129,316 in 2001 to 2,493,004 in 2005.
'Apart from granting loans, rural banks devote part of their profits to meet social responsibilities such as donation to support education, health, traditional administration and the needy in their communities.
'Some of the rural banks have specific gender programmes focusing on women-in-development and credit-with-education activities on hygiene, nutrition and financial literacy for women,' he said.
That, he said, would improve the women's home management skills with regards to food and nutrition for the health of their families as well as basic financial management skills for the growth of their businesses.
On the way forward, Mr Osei-Bonsu called for collaboration between Sister Cities International, rural banks and District Assemblies to establish cottage industries in each district to provide jobs to accelerate rural development as well as stem the rural-urban migration.
'Sister Cities International could also make on-lending funds available to the productive and active poor, especially women, to empower them by offering credit with education for these women to improve their businesses.
'In addition, rural banks in the three northern regions could collaborate with the district assemblies and Sister Cities International to establish industries for the processing of shea nuts into shea butter for export,' he added.
Mrs Esther Yaa Apenwokin, Executive Director, National Population Council, Ghana, making a presentation on; 'Population Distribution, Urbanisation and Development' said programmes on urbanization have been implemented vertically or sectorally, which most often addressed only the challenges with limited attention to harnessing the opportunities of urbanisation.
She said population dynamics and consequences of population distribution and urbanisation had not been factored into some of those programmes and called on the government to develop a comprehensive Urban Policy to address the issues.
Prince Kwame Kludjeson, President-Chair, Africa Global Sister Cities Foundation, said he hoped that the conference would enable the Mayors to tap enough equity to develop their districts.