The Executive Director of Association of Rural Banks, Ghana, Mrs. Comfort Owusu has urged Ghanaians especially people living in the localities to patronize the services rural and community banks in their various communities.
She has emphasized that rural banks develop financial products and services to suit the financial needs of the people and also has the economic interest of the people.
“Don’t only do business with a rural bank buy shares, and own part of the business to enjoy attractive dividend” she stressed.
She further stressed that rural and community banks have the largest network in the country with with eight hundred branches born out of one hundred forty four rural banks with tailor made financial services and products.
According to her, rural and community banks have made very significant impact in their various communities in the area of corporate social responsibilities and supported individuals in diverse ways.
She further stressed that these supports will continue and be sustained if the people continue to patronize the services of rural and community banks because they give out these community supports through the profit they make.
The Executive Director of Association of Rural Banks, Mrs Comfort Owusu gave the advice in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the 37th Annual General Meeting of shareholders and the climax of Amenfiman Rural Bank’s 40th anniversary celebration.
In an address delivered on behalf of the President of the Association of Rural Bank, Mr DOK Owusu, she said the Association is very proud of Amenfiman Rural Bank for the immense contribution towards the growth and development of rural banking industry in general and provision of quality banking services to improving the standard of living of the people at its areas of operation in particular during its forty (40) years of existence.
The Association has however, admonished Amenfiman Rural Bank not to be complacent in its arduous and unparalleled accomplishments, but strive to maintain its cultural and ethical values, adopt measures to ever be abreast with emerging developments in banking business, embrace good corporate governance practice within the realms of existence of potent corporate strategic plan and eschew conflict of interest.
She further advised board to keep up the continuous training for both Directors and Staff, develop effective modalities for appointing key functional personnel, formation of Board Committees among others as well as far reaching credit management practices, effective deposit mobilisation strategies, compliance with prudential norms and adherence to supervisory concerns.
The ARB congratulates Amenfiman Rural Bank Limited and all stakeholders for attaining 40 years, in making remarkable impact in the Rural Banking Scene and has wished the bank a robust growth in the ensuing years.
Background to Rural Banking in Ghana
In the early 1960s, the government realized the need for a rural financial system in Ghana to tackle the needs of small-scale farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, market women and traders and all other micro-enterprises. The need for such a system was accentuated by the fact that the bigger commercial banks could not accommodate the financial intermediation problems of the rural poor, as they did not show any interest in dealing with these small-scale operators.
All attempts to encourage commercial banks to spread their rural network and provide credit to the agricultural sector failed to achieve any significant impact. In addition, their mode of operation did not favour the rural dwellers who were supposed to hold current accounts and had to sign signatures as opposed to operating savings accounts where they only needed to thumbprint.
Again, the rural branches of the commercial banks were only mobilizing deposits, thus depriving the rural dwellers of credits because they could not provide the kind of security the commercial banks were demanding.
These banks were rather interested in financing big manufacturing, commercial and industrial entities operating in cities and urbanised areas. There was, therefore, a gap in the provision of institutional finance to the rural economy made up predominantly of small-scale operators.
It was this realization that the then existing credit institutions did not favour rural development that led to the search for a credit institution devoid of the challenges of the existing banking institutions.
The focus of the government was to establish an institution whose operations will be tailored to suit the needs of the rural dwellers. This institution had to be owned by the local people and managed by the local people and above all, it had to be patronised by the local people. Hence, the establishment of the first rural bank in the Central Region in 1976 to provide essential banking services to small and medium-scale economic entities operating in the rural area.
Rural and Community Banks have become strategic partners and key allies supporting government to provide financial intermediation to the underserved rural areas of the country.