The CEO of First National Bank (FNB) Ghana, Dominic Adu, has reiterated the need to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to drive the country’s economic growth agenda.
SMES in Ghana are still recovering from negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. A COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) – in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank – revealed that thousands of SMEs collapsed as a result of the pandemic.
Speaking at the sixth edition of the B&FT-organised Ghana’s Most Respected CEOs Breakfast Series, Mr. Adu stated that there is need for financial institutions to develop specialised products which lift small businesses from the current challenges they face.
“We understand the challenges associated with the pandemic and appreciate some of the crippling effects on SMEs. That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to develop relevant propositions to help Ghanaian business owners optimise business sustainably,” he said.
He explained that the bank has designed a round-the-clock digital platform that is aimed at giving customers secure, controlled and real-time access to accounts so they can receive and make payments at a click – including FOREX payments abroad.
To make it easy for SMEs, Mr. Adu said the bank has out-doored automated deposit terminals (ADTs) in all branches, and POS machines which allow SMEs to receive deposits and give cash to customers.
This, he said, is to enable business owners monitor transactions in real-time and reduce internal fraud at no cost. “All customers on the First National Bank SME package are allowed to apply for an overdraft or business loan quickly and easily on our digital platform,” he said.
Highlighting the bank’s financial strength, Mr. Adu stated that with a robust local balance sheet of over GH¢2.1billion, the bank is primed to be a key player in supporting SMEs during and after the pandemic
“First National Bank was named ‘SME Bank of the Year’ at the Global SME Finance Forum Virtual awards ceremony held on 27 October 2020. This is in recognition of our digital innovation, exceptional products and services, as well as the unique and solution-focused manner in which we help with approaches to the challenges facing SMEs as they incubate, start, run and grow their businesses.”
FNB agenda for 2021
Mr. Adu announced that the main focus of the bank is to help government revive the economy.
He is optimistic Ghana’s economy activity will rebound in 2021 after it contracted in 2020 due to the global economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. “The resurgence in economic activity is very apparent in the 2021 budget presented to parliament,” he said.
Pointing out some of the factors that may propel the rebound, Mr. Adu said a combination of increased digital expectations, automation of low-value activities, improved integration of required systems, and high availability of potential customers and businesses all indicate emerging opportunities for the bank.
Technology to drive growth
Speaking on the importance of technology to economic growth, Mr. Adu maintained that one easy way to drive any cashless economy is on the back of technology.
“Businesses can now reach a wider market through the power of technology. Now more than ever, we see SMEs collaborating more than competing, because all businesses are deriving the benefits of digital platforms to deliver services and move products on demand.”
According to him, evolving technologically is at the heart of efforts to serve customers better with enhanced customer experience management. “Adopting new technology is therefore critical for service-providing organisations to thrive. There is opportunity to create shared value for both the banks and businesses on the back of technology. A holistic look into this will definitely be the key to driving sustainability.”