The Anglican Diocese of Sekondi in the Western Region has secured a grant of GH¢50,000 from the United Society Partners of the Gospel (USPG) of the United Kingdom (UK) to augment the church’s poverty alleviation project.
The poverty alleviation project is an initiative of the Church of the Province of West Africa to improve the livelihoods of its members.
So far, about 100 members of the diocese have received loans under the church's existing Micro and Loans Scheme.
The loan scheme was initially open to women only; however, the poverty alleviation project has been expanded to include men and the youth.
Beneficiaries of the loan scheme are required to pay an interest of 20 per cent on the amount received to recover cost of their training in skills acquisition.
The Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Sekondi, Rt. Rev. Alexander Kobina Asmah, who made these disclosures at the 1st Session of the 5th Diocesan Synod of the church, said skills training was a necessary condition for a loan.
The synod was attended by 200 delegates and spanned a four-day period on the theme: "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" (Ephesians 4:5).
Loan and grant application
He stated that because the diocese was starved of funds, the church leaders applied to the USPG for a loan of 10,000 Pound Sterling, which was agreed with a two per cent interest rate repayable in 10 years.
"We are also glad to announce to synod that Trinity Wall Street, New York, has awarded $350,000 as a grant following our application, defence of proposal and interview," he said.
Rev. Asmah added that Capital Bank had approved a loan of GH¢1,000,000 with a 32 per cent interest rate for the church, repayable in five years. The loan, he said, had a six month deferral of payment on the principal and interest.
He said as a fiscal policy of the diocese, it was contributing an amount of GH¢300,000 towards the poverty alleviation project for the year 2017 and 2018.
The Diocesan Bishop said the diocese was in consultations with the Wassa Amenfi Traditional Council for the release of a 30-acre piece of land at Wassa Akropong to be used for an educational complex, including a teacher training college in the future.
He expressed worry over the inability of the church to rehabilitate its school infrastructure, as well as offices of the Anglican Education Unit.
"My heart bleeds as we lose our schools to district assemblies, an example being the Bishop O'rorke Anglican School in Takoradi, now called the Kaku Korsah Complex," Rev. Asmah bemoaned.
He said many of the Anglican schools in the Sekondi Diocese were not being monitored because the regional manager of schools did not have a vehicle and also lacked logistics to work with.
Cold store venture
Rev. Asmah said the cold store enterprise which began in 2013 with five shareholders was doing well.
He said with an initial sales outlet at the All Saints Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Takoradi, the establishment now had 12 shareholders and other shops at Effiakuma and Tarkwa.
He indicated that the total equity of the business had grown from GH¢50,000.00 to GH¢551,676.88.
He added that a dividend of GH¢30,000.00 for last year was expected to be paid in March this year.
Rev. Asmah also stated that the church was putting up a four-storey 90-bedroom project at Effiakuma which was estimated at a cost of GH¢3,500,000. The project he said was scheduled to be completed and commissioned in 2021.