Rural bank board chairman explores investment opportunities abroad

Board chairman of Yaa Asantewaa Rural Bank, Mr. Otoo, middle, with the Executive Vice President of TRANSTAS Global Logistics, Ersel Topaloğlu, left, and a Turkish investor, right

While local banks scramble to reposition themselves amid the ‘perceived crisis’ in the banking sector, as well as eminent regulatory reforms in the rural banking sub-sector, the board chairman of Yaa Asantewaa Rural Bank – Mr. Samuel Addo Otoo – has been exploring opportunities in foreign markets to accelerate growth of the bank.

Incorporated in 2010, Mr. Otoo said, Yaa Asantewaa Rural Bank is focusing more on helping rural communities to identify their needs and resources, and how they can match the two to achieve financial and economic independence.

This quest, he noted, has moved management of the bank to look at other markets and tap into things that can be deployed locally to make their pursuit achievable.

In line with this, the board chairman – who was speaking in an interview at the backdrop of the 2nd Turkey Africa Economic and Business Forum in Istanbul, explained that their presence in Turkey was thus to identify new technologies, ideas, and products which can fit into the local market.

Additionally, he said, they are looking at also establishing “new partnerships to support the development of the local economy”.

The Yaa Asantewaa Rural Bank, according to Mr. Otoo, has already met the new Bank of Ghana minimum capital threshold set for rural banks.

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Ranked among the first-five strong rural banks in the Ashanti Region out of a total of 26 RCBs, and also listed among the first top-20 of the country’s 144 RCBs, he stated that the bank now has a 2021 vision to be seen among the three top-performing rural banks in the country.

This will be in all indicators, he explained, in terms of deposit mobilisation, capital, governance, and impact on the economy.

In 2015, the bank was ranked 2nd and 19th best-managed rural and community bank in Ashanti Region and Ghana respectively by the ARB Apex Bank, out of 26 and 141 RCBs in Ashanti Region and Ghana respectively.

The bank’s management is determined to instil good business practices in all facets of its operations, by embracing realistic ideas from all stakeholders including shareholders, supervisory authorities and customers among others, through a number of innovative mediums.

It is believed that by this methodology, the desired productivity will be achieved and sustained, while it continues to support development of local communities.

For example, the bank has partnered with some traders to finance the construction of over 1,000 stalls and shops at the Atonsu Agogo Market, in Asokwa Municipality of the Ashanti Region. It is also working on some other projects in collaboration with the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA).

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On the recent reforms seen in the banking sector, he conceded that “reforms are always necessary”. However, he said the “approach, timing and methodology” of the reforms ought to be ‘customerised’ in order that it does not adversely affect the banking sector.

Also touching on the call made by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on African countries to trade with their local currencies, Mr. Otoo noted that doing this would reduce the cost of doing business.

“If we were to be doing direct business using our own currencies with our trading partners and we don’t necessarily have to rely on a particular currency in order to trade, I don’t think there would be this level of depreciation in the local currency.”

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