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01.08.2005 Business & Finance

Let SMEs feel part of "Golden Age of Business"


Accra, GNA - Professor Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy, on Monday urged rural banks to evolve strategies and products that would make their services more attractive to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in order to rope them into the Golden Age of Business.

"Rural banks are established mainly to serve the smaller businesses and not the bigger companies so they must take good care of the SMEs and help them to nurture and manage their businesses well," he said. The Minister, who said this at the opening of a branch of the Abokobi Area Rural Bank Limited at Dome in Accra noted that government's golden age of business campaign called for the need to support the SMEs to grow.

Prof. Ocqyaue who is also the Member of Parliament for the area said the opening the bank formed part of the community's development programme.

"Save with rural banks, do business with them and let the bank carry your money for you for greater benefits," he said. Prof. Ocquaye urged the bank to let integrity guide it in giving loans to credit worthy clients according to its laid down regulation without any favour.

Mr Emmanuel K. Kwapong, Managing Director of the Apex Bank Limited, said the opening of the Abokobi Rural Bank branch had brought the total of rural banks to 510 nationwide.

He said it was an indication of the expansion of the rural banking network, which showed a corresponding growth in the deposit mobilization position of the rural banking system.

Mr Kwapong said the branch, which started operation on Monday, could now transfer or receive money through the Apex Link Funds Transfer System established in 2003. The system enables remittances to be sent to every part of the country.

He commended the bank for the short time within which it mobilised its initial seed money to open the branch.

The un-audited profit as at June 30, 2005 stood at 234.16 million cedis, the paid up capital was 129.15 million cedis, which is higher than the minimum of 100 million cedis prescribed for rural banks.

Mr Kwapong said, while the bank's total assets stood at 13.96 billion cedis, deposit mobilised amounted to 11.25 billion cedis whereas investment in treasury bills was 5.99 billion cedis.

He urged existing and prospective shareholders to acquire more shares to strengthen the capital base of the bank in order to cushion it against unexpected development.

"With the expansion in the scope of your operations...I would advise you to put in place effective internal control mechanisms to minimize the incidence of risk. This is the only way you can ensure sanity."

Mr Sam Clegg, Board Chairman of the Bank, said honesty and emphasis on human resource training had been the main principles for which the bank had chalked its successes, even though more room existed for improvement.

He said Abokobi Area Rural Bank since its inception 20 years ago had faithfully fulfilled its corporate responsibility mainly in the area of educational development and would continue to do so. Mr Henry Obeng, Managing Director of the Bank, said quality banking service, reliable credit system to rural dwellers to enhance their businesses to alleviate poverty were the core objectives of the Abokobi Rural bank.

He said the Dome branch was the second after the one at Madina, adding that market businessmen and women were its main targeted group.