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26.06.2005 Business & Finance

Entrepreneurs laud rural bank


Yeji (B/A) June 26, GNA - Small-scale entrepreneurs in and around the fishing town of Yeji in Brong Ahafo are full of praise for the management of the local Yapra Rural Bank Limited for lifting up their lifestyles through credit facilities granted them.

The entrepreneurs including bakers, petty traders, fishermen and women, storekeepers and a 54 year old visually-impaired poultry farmer told newsmen at Yeji at the weekend that but for the "lifeline" from the bank, they would not be enjoying a new lease of life.

They were interacting with the newsmen just before the opening of the 16th annual general meeting of shareholders of the bank at Prang in the new Pru district, recently carved out of Atebubu district. The excited women said they were now able to pay their children's school fees, take good care of their homes, especially those who had lost their husbands, but noted that new challenges had made it imperative for them to appeal to the bank to increase loans granted them as well as the four months for loan recovery.

Madam Christiana Adwoa Kuma, a fishmonger and leader of 'Mmaa Anidasuo Kuo', a group of beneficiary entrepreneurs expressed concern about the high prices of fish they bought for sale because of the influx of fishermen from the urban coastal areas, including Accra and Tema, who are using 'hi-tech' means to catch the fish in the Volta river and sending their catch "down south".

She appealed to the government through the Ministry of Fisheries to step in to regulate fishing in the area to save them from being deprived of their source of livelihood.

Mrs. Vera Asamoah, a baker with eight workers said through the assistance of the bank, she had been able to acquire a plot to build her own oven to establish herself after being in the bread-baking business with the mother for a long time.

She said she started dealing with the bank in 2002 and urged colleague females to deal with the bank to firmly establish themselves and expand their businesses due to the immense improvement she had noted in her life.

Fifty-four year old Jacob Addae Bruku, a native of Prang and a former veterinary officer in Sunyani has through the bank established a poultry farm with 200 birds and piggery.

He told newsmen the bank had engaged a veterinary officer to assist him in the administration of drugs to the birds and assisted him to put up the structures on part of a 50-acre land released to him by Nana Kwadwo Nyarko 1V, Omanhene of Prang Traditional Area.

Mr. Bruku said he intended to engage crop farming on part of the land to cultivate maize and cassava to feed the animals and appealed to individuals and NGOs to come to his aid so he could realize his dream.

He, however, sadly cited that some boys in the area sabotaged a piggery he earlier established in 2002 when one night they sneaked into the sty and heartlessly slaughtered 14 of them, including pregnant ones and stole the carcasses away.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Philip Oduro-Amoyaw, chairman of the Interim Management Committee of the bank noted that the bank performed creditably in 2004 due to the "remarkable improvement" in the national economy.

"The Ghanaian economy in 2004 showed a remarkable improvement as depicted in the key macroeconomic indicators largely as a result of the combined effect of the relative macroeconomic gains achieved in 2003 and the general stability in the world economy in spite of the oil crisis. "The Gross Domestic Product closed the year 2004 at 5.8 per cent exceeding its target by 0.6 percentage points", he said.

The IMC chairman said the bank traded successfully in 2004 with profit before tax increasing to 384.3 million cedis from the previous level of 244.6 million cedis representing a rise of 57.1 per cent. Similarly, net profit after tax was 344.7 million cedis, about 70.2 per cent over that of 2003, Mr. Oduro-Amoyaw added.

He told the shareholders: "The good performance of the national economy coupled with intense competition in the banking industry resulted in falling interest rates but your bank was able to weather the storm to improve on its bottom line."

The IMC Chairman said the bank's total assets grew by 13 per cent from 7.7 billion cedis in 2003 to 8.7 billion cedis in 2004 and attributed the increase to a rise in investments and quality loans and advances to customers.

"The bank continued to support all sectors of the economy, especially the cottage industry and trading sectors", he added.

Mr. Oduro-Amoyaw said through the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs and the Senior Minister's Office, the bank disbursed a total of 763.0 million cedis to women groups within the three district assemblies-- Atebubu, Sene and East Gonja-- under the Special Farmers Assistance Loan scheme.

He said, to wild cheers from the shareholders that for the first time since the inception of the bank in 1984 the IMC had agreed that shareholders should enjoy dividends.

"We are therefore, happy to declare a dividend of 40,000 cedis per share, representing a pay ratio of 12 per cent", he announced, adding that modalities for the payment of the dividends would be worked out as soon as practicable and beneficiaries would be advised accordingly.

Mr. Oduro-Amoyaw said the bank was currently drafting a social policy document to address the needs of brilliant but needy students within the bank's catchment area, who wished to pursue further studies, as well as issues of health, water, sanitation and electricity. The IMC Chairman said the bank, in 2004 made various donations amounting to 12.895 million cedis to individuals and institutions, in line with its social responsibility. Mr. Oduro-Amoyaw cautioned that the bank would soon advise itself on the fate of recalcitrant loan defaulters and appealed to borrowers to repay their loans to pave the way for others to benefit. June 26 05