I Love Banking. Every day, I remain fascinated by its models and assumptions. In fact, as I sit here on the third floor of our Head Office on the main Accra High Street, I drift into reflection mode. Banking has come a long way in Ghana since the days of colonialism.
Having undergone so many iterations and transformation, this ‘noble business’ is undoubtedly the bedrock of our economy. Thanks to the advent of digital technology, the drive for a higher level of thinking by practitioners has become even more prevalent. With every tick of the clock, we are caught in an interesting cycle of racing above and beyond to meet the needs of our customers. That kind of adrenaline is priceless.
I remember when I was joining Absa Bank (the erstwhile Barclays Bank) years back. I was filled with trepidation and uncertainty. Coming from an FMCG background, there was a bit of hesitation for me. The FMCG business has a way of growing on you and drawing you in. However, I wanted a new adventure and curiosity played a role in my finally switching to Absa. Today, when I look at the systemically important role played by Absa Bank in Ghana’s financial services sector, I feel proud to be a key contributor.
Overall, banks play a huge role in any economy. They enable people in their everyday lives to buy goods and services, to save and invest, to buy homes and grow their wealth. Banks help businesses to set up, to expand and trade locally and internationally. We help economies to prosper, to build infrastructure and to transform the lives of citizens. By doing these things in the right way, banks, like Absa have become an extraordinarily powerful force for good throughout the economy.
The fact is that Absa has only three years in Ghana as a transformative brand, and yet its impact is mammoth. While not discounting the contribution of the more than century-old heritage of the erstwhile Barclays brand, the other key contributor is the distinguishing values of commitment, dedication and responsiveness toward its customers. These traits have found expression in the word ‘Africanacity’, a term coined by the bank to reflect its true character and strength. Africanacity always raises eyebrows. “Is it a word?” “What does it mean?” you’ll usually hear people ask.
From a perspective of pure brand expression, Africanacity truly stands for the remarkable way in which the African (from all walks of life) always finds distinctly ingenious ways to overcome obstacles and get things done. Both in Ghana and across Africa, Absa has consistently existed to empower Africa’s tomorrow, together, through one story at a time. These stories are reflected in the experiences of our customers and clients in their engagements and transactions with us. It is supremely a powerful expression of the relationship a bank must consistently demonstrate to its key stakeholders.
We have recently once again revived our ‘Africanacity’ communications campaign, through videos and other communication materials across a multiplicity of channels – and the impact is astounding. We have a lot to be proud of as Africans, and as Ghanaian, for that matter, and this campaign is really highlighting the essence of our humanity.
Yes, we are not in a steady state as an economy in Ghana. The recent macroeconomic challenges – inflationary pressures, depreciation of the cedi, debt instability – are all clear and present issues, However, it is in times like these that the Ghanaian’s spirit is awakened to find unique ways of making things possible. It is this spirit of ingenuity that pushes a bank like ours to always find ways of elevating and empowering individuals and businesses to access the next level. The following stories illustrate in clear detail the kind of determination Absa Bank finds admirable:
Bernice Dapaah, a heroine in one of the Africanacity videos currently circulating on TV, had a rough upbringing. In the neighbourhood where she grew up, children had to trek long distances on foot going to school. Having experienced this at first hand, she was determined to do something about it. So, she used her wit and ingenuity to create the first bamboo-bicycle – a rare but crucial transportation tool for these children to use for school. What started very small and under an obscure shed in her community has now blossomed into a very large bamboo-bicycle business, employing many people including women.
Paul Coffie is another interesting entrepreneur whose exploits are also a strong feature in one of our Africanacity videos. Having come from an environment where waste management was a serious challenge, Paul devised a way to utilise plastic waste in building houses for people to live in. After years of fervent practice and study, Paul is now applying his creativity to solve Ghana’s age-long housing deficit and give people a place to lay their heads.
With a financial partner like Absa Bank standing beside these transformational entrepreneurs, Bernice and Paul can continue blazing the trail and lead by example on the African continent. It is really a true reflection of what Africanacity is all about. The stock in trade of banks is cash, but it is much more than that. Our customers are the reason we are in business; without them we have no business. Every day, when we come to work; when we respond to their needs; take decisions that make their engagements with us convenient and easy, we are incarnating the concept of Africanacity as a strong virtue of belief, change and progress on our continent.
>>>the writer is a Marketing and Corporate Relations Director at Absa Bank Ghana