Bank of Africa Ghana Limited (BOA), has been recognized among its peers as the lead Trade Finance Bank of the Year, at the just-ended Ghana Accountancy and Finance Awards, 2021.
The distinguished honour is in recognition of the bank’s outstanding innovative tools used in facilitating and deepening cross-border trade on the continent and beyond for local businesses especially small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) with export potential.
Touching on the bank’s cross border trade strategy, Deputy Managing Director, BOA Ghana, Youssef Benrhafiane, indicated that as businesses across the country seek to explore export opportunities and become major players in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market, the bank is also leveraging on its footprints in the over 18 African countries to facilitate seamless financial transactions.
According to him, BOA Ghana having in mind that majority of the country’s trade neighbors are French speaking nations, and as such, has leveraged on its large customer base and robust interconnected network platform in these countries to develop trade finance initiatives that can assist businesses to understand and explore the unique features of these markets.
This, coupled with other unique professional advisory added services at no extra cost to businesses made them stand out among their peers in the trade finance sector.
“So, for instance the ‘concept of avalisation of a Bill’ which is the act of having a third party (usually a bank or lending institution) guarantee the obligations of a buyer to a seller per the terms of a contract, such as a promissory note or purchase agreement, is something that is dominant in these French speaking countries, but we believe that local businesses as trade partners of these other countries should be able to benefit from this system and we are helping businesses to access this facility in their trans-border trade.
We have positioned ourselves as trade finance experts to help business with their due diligence processes, risk assessment, accessing trade opportunities and data analysis, among others,” he stated.
He further indicated that the bank is confident of raking in great chunk of its target revenue from trade fees and charges rather than interest on loans and exchange rates, contrary to other commercial banks.
Head, Cross Border Trade & Business Synergy, BOA-Ghana, Musah Abdul-Rahman, on his part indicated that the bank is very much aware of the challenges of SMEs in terms of limited resources and capacity hence top-class professionals of the bank from all its 18 operating countries are always available to offer value-addition service to clients who use their services to transact business at no extra cost.
“Let me emphasis that one thing we also do for clients beyond our core banking services is help validate products in other countries on behalf of clients and even advance payments when the need be to avert any demurrage or extra charges.
So, the fear of the unknown has been eliminated by our presence in these markets. Businesses want to know the market conditions, regulatory framework and macroeconomics status, which we offer to them through our professionals,” he said.
Adding that provision of fast-track transactions, easy repatriation of trade funds and providing alternatives to trade exchange in the most cost-efficient way are some core characteristics of the bank.
On his part, Executive Head, Corporate and Enterprise Banking, William Boateng, emphasized that excellence in service delivery is the hallmark of BOA. Adding that the bank is very conscious of trade financing and also aware of the significant role SMEs play in the Ghanaian economy and as such, has established SME desks in its offices with the duty of the SME manager to engage and offer advisory services to empower them engage in cross-border trade.
“Our value propositions for SMEs are very distinct, we have an SME relations officer in every branch, so there is a dedicated business line in every branch dedicated to that particular customer network with special products targeted at them,” he said.