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Avenor Rural Bank races against odds

BY: Arku Jasmine

Mr Temple Chris Tsifodze —General Manager, Avenor Rural BankThe Avenor Rural Bank (ARB) Limited, located at Akatsi, in the southern part of Volta Region, with its tentacles spreading to other parts of the region, may be seen today by a good number of people as a bank of a credible standing in view of the achievements they have chalked up so far.

Founded in 1981 and incorporated as a company limited by shares on May 11, 1981, Avenor Rural Bank commenced business on May 27, 1981. It started with activities such as credit creation, micro-finance, deposit and savings moblisation and investments in securities.

The ARB Ltd has come a long way, with a checkered history. But the worst fear came when the bank found its way into the woods following significant losses in 2004. But once again, the bank did not count it all a loss, but a moment for self-reflection and re-strategising.

Armed with those lessons, it was time the bank staged a come-back into full-scale rural banking in 2005 after a year of keeping a low profile. Since then, the bank has never looked back and has recorded appreciable performance year after year.

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Today, the rural bank has impacted positively on many lives and businesses not only in its operational zone, but stretching across parts of the South Tongu and Ketu North districts as well as the Ho municipality.

A 70-years old Lawrence Amaglo, a founder member of the bank who contributed to the initial capital of the bank, said not only did the bank provide services to workers in the formal and informal sectors of the rural economy, but it also reached out to the unemployed, using their micro deposits, ‘susu’ contributions, as guarantee for them to take loans to start a business.

“We enjoy every facility found in the banking sector, so this bank is our saviour in this area,” he said.

Mr Samuel Davor, who has been a client of Avenor Rural Bank for 30 years, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS “we are proud that this is a rural bank.”

The bank, he observed, treated its clients with courtesy and excellent customer care, saying “whenever we get handicapped, the bank was always prepared to assist with loans, and that those still repaying loans were even given overdrafts to ease their difficulties.”

But for Vincent Diaba, who has been a client since 1999, given the impact that the bank had made so far on the rural community, especially the farmers, there was the need for the injection of more capital from the government and other stakeholders into the capital base of the bank for enhanced impact.

At the 2013 annual general meeting of the bank at Akatsi at the week ending August 16, the annual report indicated that the bank, for the 2012 financial year recorded a profit before tax of GH¢141,573, representing a growth of 87.21 per cent as a result of a growth of 53.83 per cent in total income as against a growth of 44.22 per cent in operating expenses.

The report attributed the gains also to positive changes in the country’s economic indicators in 2012 with a GDP growth of 6.7 per cent as against 13 per cent in 2011.

Asked what may have changed the equation in their favour, the Akatsi Branch Manager of the bank, Mr Temple Chris Tsifodze, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that the bank had adhered to the guidelines and regulations by the ARB Apex Bank, the Bank of Ghana and the peer review mechanism adopted by the Association of Rural Banks.

“We have a flexible way of servicing our customers and the process does not delay. We counsel them on how to go about proper accounting and book-keeping.

With salaried workers, we give them a lengthier period of payment that makes things flexible for them,” he added.

Aside from fulfilling their social responsibility of assisting in the execution of educational projects and programmes in their catchment areas, they have also not failed in contributing towards the honouring of gallant farmers on their designated awards days.

Mr Tsifodze said that the future for them was bright as shareholders would have value for their shares and that “we will continue to expand our credit facilities to the farmers in the hinterlands and all other sectors at reduced rates to ensure that our innovations reach out to even those who may feel marginalised,” he assured.
Avenor Rural Bank plans to start the construction of its head office in the next 12 months.

By Victor Kwawukume/Graphic Business/Ghana