Sonzele Rural Bank makes strides

BY: Arku Jasmine

Thirty years ago some individuals from the Jirapa District of the Upper West Region conceived the idea of establishing a rural bank in the area in order to bring banking services to the door steps of the people. Hence in November, 1983 the name Sonzele Rural Bank was established as one of the rural banks in the country.

The inauguration of this bank has gone a long way to save customers particularly salaried workers, who without the bank would have had to travel to Wa and Lawra for their salaries at the end of each month and this no doubt would have resulted in the loss of man hours not to talk of the risk involved.

From a humble beginning the bank currently has five branches namely Jirapa, Nadowli, Lambussie, Wa and Hain with hardworking Mr. Kenneth K. Dassah as the General Manager.

Sonzele since its establishment has been offering financial inter – mediation to the people within its catchment area and beyond through effective fund mobilisation, fund management and the provision of sound credit. These activities are carried out in such a manner as to ensure a beneficial impact on the socio – economic lives of the people while at the same time generating sufficient profit to sustain operations.

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As a result of its efficiency and effectiveness and good corporate service, the bank was jointly rated with the Bosomtwi Rural Bank in the Ashanti Region in 2011 as the most efficient rural banks in the country by the 4th Business and Financial Services Excellent Awards organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and a silver award conferred on the bank out of a total of 132 rural and community banks at the time.

“The bank has brought services to the door steps of the people and continue to educate both existing and potential customers through her marketing and outreach programmes and forums”, Mr Dassah told the Graphic Business in an interview.

In addition to this, the bank has also participated in governmental interventions such as MASLOC, poverty alleviation fund disbursement and also helped in the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP) and the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

In the words of Mr Dassah, “without the bank the people no doubt would have been faced with problems of accessing their monthly allowances and salaries”.
Conscious of its social responsibilities, the bank has been driven by a philosophy to be a partner of communities in its catchment areas. Towards this, “we have contributed in diverse ways to the communities where we serve with contributions gone into sponsoring festivals which has helped to keep the culture of the people alive and preserved.

Apart from this, in 2012 the bank donated an X–Ray equipment worth GH¢30,000 to the Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church at Jirapa while in the same year GH¢20,000 was expended as scholarships for needy but brilliant students. The Jirapa Water Board also benefited from GH¢5,000 to increase water supply in the Jirapa township.

According to Mr Dassah the bank has also been helping in the organisation of the district agricultural festivals by donating cash to the respective district directorates within the banks catchment areas.

Inspite of this, according to Mr Dassah, the bank was facing challenges from the bigger banks as they were threats of more banks coming into the system to compete with the few customers.

He, however, said the bank would put in strategic measures in place to meet these challenges.

He urged shareholders of the bank to increase their shares in order to raise the capital base of the bank.

By George Folley/Graphic Business/Ghana