The Amenfiman Rural Bank Limited at Wasa Akropong in the Wasa Amenfi East District in the Western Region has proven to be a market leader innovative and adapting to changing times to tailor its services to meet the needs of customers.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic with its attending issues, the Bank has put together some relief interventions to cushion clients to ease the financial difficulties in this era of COVID 19.
Amenfiman announced an interest rates cuts for new customers only, which will comprise commercial interest rate for MSMEs by 200 basis points which is 2% per annum and salaried loans with the exception of smart loans also reduced by 150 basis points also meaning 1.5% per annum.
According to the CEO of the Bank, Dr Alex Asmah, the board and management identified some business hold ups in the area of cash flow of their clients which has hit the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSME that are the Bank’s core clients.
By this, the Bank has had series of interactions with customers and assessed how the pandemic is negatively impacting on their businesses. The outcome of these engagements shaped the Bank’s realization to develop some relieving interventions to support them to cope with the challenges that the pandemic is bringing to their businesses.
“The basic difficulties these Micro and Small Medium Enterprises are going through are coming from cash flow challenges. Because of the lockdown, many of them could not get supplies from their suppliers to be able to sell,” Dr. Asmah said.
He added that a lot of the products are not selling now because everybody is focusing more on essential commodities around this time. The Bank has therefore designed interventions that will be able to support these affected clients to go through the difficult times and come back strongly keeping their businesses.
These interventions include three months’ deferment of monthly loan repayment instalment of both principal and interest up to three months to be able to generate cash flows to turn around their business and also re-scheduling of existing loan facilities to allow a reduced monthly payment in order to ease the pressures on the customers.
Other relieving interventions include Additional Funding Support to the Bank’s business customers at flexible terms to help them cope with the shocks of the pandemic.
These interventions put together, Amenfiman Rural Bank believes that the Bank can support business owners and also will be able to withstand the shocks and cope with the challenges that the COVID 19 pandemic has brought to the external business environment.
Rural banking plays a major role in the financial sector of Ghana’s economy, by ensuring financial inclusion for rural dwellers, and this remains the primary mission of Amenfiman Rural Bank. Its mission is to drive financial inclusion in communities by serving the unbanked and the underbanked population of the market with emphasis on MSME by offering easy, convenient and cost-effective access to financial products and services using appropriate technology and the best people while creating value for the owners, which is part of Bank of Ghana’s (BoG) main aim for establishing Rural Banking.
Amenfiman Rural Bank is a one-stop shop, where easy and convenient access to financial services are provided. The products are tailor made to suit the needs of customers, they include savings account, current account, investment accounts, ATM, mobile banking, funds transfer services both local and international and we have the best turnaround time for our loan products.
As a customer-centered bank, Amenfiman provide platforms for customers to express their dissatisfaction which gives them cues to delivering the best service experience, for customers.
“Our financial indicators demonstrate our growth over the years which solidifies the confidence and trust our customers have in us. Even in the phase of a global pandemic, we have grown in all our Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s),” Dr. Asmah stated.
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The public holds the perception that rural banks provide facilities at very expensive interest rates, which, rather than help businesses grow, tend to stymie their ability to expand and create greater value. But it is important for rural banks to address this perception by taking the leadership approach in educating and sensitizing clients on their credit facility needs.
First of all, Amenfiman has debunked the notion that rural banks provide facilities at very expensive interest rate and those who carry this perception do not seem to appreciate the factors which influence bank interest rate. Basically, the main factors considered in determining the interest rates are cost of funds and risk and then a little margin. Cost of funds and risk are the main determinants. Traditionally, rural banks serve the category of customers who are considered high risk – i.e. Micro, Small and Medium customers and peasant or small holder farmers. This is because almost all the players in this category are informal and businesses and activities are undocumented.
Also, most lending to this sector is unsecured. It is the very reason why commercial banks are only interested in mobilizing deposits from them but will not lend to them. It is therefore the rural banks which are filling that gap by providing the much-needed credit needs of these clients.
The type of facility and targets clients.
- The cost of various facility types and duration.
- The risk associated with the various facility and the use by various clients.
The reality is that rural banks normally deals with the informal sector both in mobilizing deposit and granting of facilities. These clients normally take facilities with or without collaterals which makes these credits unsecured and this is also a factor in credit facility pricing.
Again, because rural banks deal a lot with the informal sector and has to go the petty traders, farmers and highly dispersed communities to mobilize deposit, the associated cost is very high and this also become a factor to any investment decision.
Just as it has been part of the reasons behind its introduction, Rural banks continue to penetrate remote areas to ensure that there is financial inclusion while impacting the lives of rural dwellers, even in the face of the pandemic, offering service and support.
For example, beyond the fiscal intervention, Amenfiman Rural Bank has also offered some special support to the communities in which it operates, since the outbreak of the pandemic. These include the construction of two clinics for Dadieso and Wantram communities, and the provision of a laundry for Wasa Akropong Municipal Hospital
The others are supply of personal protective equipment (PPE’s) for district and municipal assemblies in the Wasa Akropong area, and construction of some eight borehole projects, all in Asankragwa, Abesewa Gyaman and Wasa Akropong.
Amenfiman Rural Bank Limited the leading Rural Banks in Ghana with its headquartered at Wassa Akropong in the Amenfi East Municipal. It was the first Rural Bank established in the Western Region, and the fourth in Ghana in 1980, to provide essential banking services to rural and peri-urban communities in which we operate.
It was incorporated under the Ghana companies code 1963 (Act 179) and received its certificate to commence business in May 1980 and also licensed under the banking Act 2004 (673) to engage in the ordinary business of banking.
The Bank started with one outlet as a local bank and now under a prudent management it has 18 outlets located in four regions in Ghana namely Western Region, Western North Region, Central and Ashanti Region.
It is the most trusted and preferred rural bank in Ghana with the largest deposit portfolio in the industry, a mark that it has built with consistency.
Amenfiman Rural Bank has made a strong mark under the exceptional leadership of the Board Chairman Dr. Toni Aubynn, the CEO Dr. Alexander Asmah and its entire management.
It is dedicated to mobilization of surplus funds from its catchment areas and channeling of such funds into viable and profitable economic ventures by lending to individuals and groups in all sectors and also to small and medium enterprises, thereby creating wealth and alleviating poverty.
“Our core mandate is to accept deposit, provide lending, and cash management services and related financial services and support for enterprise growth. The bank has successfully executed this mandate and provided the necessary catalyst for rural community development and also promoted growth by creating jobs and improving the lives of its clients.
We have become a household name for supporting micro, small and medium enterprises as well as agricultural business. Our strategy in supporting farmers especially cocoa, rubber and live stock has made farming very attractive in our catchment areas.”
Its vision is to consolidate and sustain leadership in rural banking in Ghana and to become a point of reference in the industry while aspiring to be the most tech-savvy and customer-friendliest rural bank in Ghana.