The strategic role of rural banks you should know


The rural banking concept was introduced in 1976 with the launch of Nyakrom Rural Bank in the Central Region.

The rural banking model’s policy intent was to fill the financial inclusion gap in rural communities which were seen to have been left behind by the privilege enjoyed by urban dwellers who had access to the High Street banks.

The RCB sector currently has 147 banks with a network of about 900 branches spread across the 16 regions of Ghana.

It is important to note that some of the branches are located in the country’s remotest parts where no other financial service provider can be found.

Indeed, rural banks play strategics role in Ghana’s socio-economic development; and this article will therefore highlight 4 of them.

Strategic Role

  1. Deepening financial inclusion

Over the years, rural banks have been deepening financial inclusion by making financial services available to the MSMEs, informal sector, poor households, unserved and underserved in the country’s remotest part. Their intervention has helped scores of small businesses to grow and thrive.

Data from the Bank of Ghana show that the RCB sector has 8 million depositors and over 6 million loan customers.

The data affirm that the sector remains one of the key pillars for financial inclusion in Ghana.

It is noteworthy that some RCB customers make deposits as little as GH¢2, a situation that is alien to universal banks.

Ahantaman Rural Bank has been instrumental in promoting financial inclusion in the Western Region. The bank currently has 22 branch outlets and about 180,000 customers.

It closed the year 2021 with a loan portfolio and deposit portfolio of GH¢49.7million and GH¢143million respectively. Indeed, through aggressive financial inclusion Ahantaman Rural Bank has promoted economic empowerment for the poor and marginalised in its catchment area.

According to the CEO, Mr. Benjamin Afful-Eshun, his outfit is positioned to continue playing a key role in supporting economic recovery going forward; and deepening financial inclusion to support the National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy.

  1. Impacting on community development

Given the fact that rural banks are community-based financial institutions where there are local stakeholders in ownership and governance, over the years they have been impacting positively on community development through corporate social responsibility programmes.

For example, some rural banks have provided a lot of social intervention projects: such as building health centres, schools, community centres, libraries and state-of-the-art learning equipment, thereby bringing life and a semblance of modernity to our rural folk.

Furthermore, some RCBs have been providing scholarships to brilliant but needy students to aid them reach and ascend the academic ladder.

Consider the following RCBs and how they have impacted significantly on communities in their catchment areas.

Atwima Kwanwoma Rural Bank in Ashanti Region is a key player in shaping the destinies of communities in its catchment area through corporate social responsibility programmes. The bank’s board and management strongly believe that as a community based financial institution it is a necessity to give back to society.

The bank has therefore constructed a Senior High School (Atwima Kwanwoma Presby Senior High) for the people of Pakyi Number 2 and its immediate environs.

It has also constructed a three-unit classroom block for Semanhyiakrom DA Primary School in the Amansie West district.

Further, the bank has constructed staff bungalow for nurses at Domenase SDA Hospital in Domenase.

Amenfiman Rural Bank in the Western Region, headquartered at Wassa Akropong, remains resolute in its commitment to Community development. The bank delivers shared value for not only shareholders and employees, but also communities in its catchment areas. Every year, it makes significant socio-economic contributions within communities in its catchment areas. In 2021, it spent GH¢1million on Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.

The following are a few community development projects provided by the bank.

  • Renovation of Methodist and Adansi Schools at Wassa Akropong valued at GH¢58,000.
  • Donation of 14 mechanised and manual boreholes to various communities valued at GH¢443,000.
  • Provision of a CHPS compound at Wassa Dalteso valued at GH¢37,000.

Juaben Rural Bank in the Ashanti Region cannot be overlooked when it comes to CSR programmes. Among other things, it has constructed an X-ray department for the Juaben Government Hospital.

This kind gesture has no doubt improved the quality of healthcare delivery within the Juaben municipality. According to CEO, Mr. Augustine Damoah Awere, the bank is poised to support communities in its catchment areas through affordable and convenient lending, as well as provision of CSR projects in order to improve the standard of living of residents.

Odotobri Rural Bank in the Ashanti Region is a force to reckon with regarding Corporate Social Responsibility. The bank built the Nana Adu Darko Community Centre at Jakobu where events are held.

Moreover, it has constructed and furnished a science resource centre at Jakobu Senior High and Technical School.

  1. Supporting government’s social intervention programmes

The RCB sector has been playing a critical role by supporting government in the execution of various intervention programmes: such as poverty alleviation, women in Development, LEAP, One District-One Factory and the Stimulus package for Businesses under COVID-19 among others.

As already mentioned, some rural banks have some of their branch networks in the remotest part of Ghana where other financial service providers cannot be found; and this has made it possible for LEAP beneficiaries to access their funds. This is an amazing and remarkable intervention.

It is heartwarming to mention that Amenfiman Rural Bank in the Western Region, headquartered at Wassa Akropong, has partnered a local company to establish a commercial starch factory under government’s 1D1F with the potential to provide jobs to over 100 people in the community.

  1. Extension of lending support to the agricultural sector (Smallholder farmers)

The Agricultural sector plays a crucial role in Ghana’s economy, as it promotes food security, price stability and helps to stabilise our currency through reduced food imports and the generation of export revenues.

However, most financial institutions seem reluctant to lend to the sector because of perceived risk of default. Regarding smallholder farmers, they are unable to provide the collateral demanded by banks to secure a credit facility.

It is gratifying to say that a number of rural and community banks have been extending lending to smallholder farmers with a view to improving agricultural productivity.

Akim Bosome Rural Bank in the Eastern Region extended loans amounting to GH¢7.5million to farmers in 2021. According to CEO Godfred Asante Hanson, the bank by lending support has improved the income and yield of smallholder farmers in its catchment area.


The rural banking sector is playing a critical role in supporting rural economic development and growth – may we all do our utmost to support the sector to grow and thrive.

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