Absa Bank hits the road to engage SMEs

The image of Absa Bank’s Managing Director, Abena Osei-Poku, gliding along the busy and complex streets of Ghana’s capital city, in search of her customers, is not unfamiliar to many.

At the start of this year, it was MrsOsei-Poku who took to the streets of Kantamanto, sliding her way through thick crowds, and into the shops of her clients.

Next, according to a statement issued by the Bank, shesat and interacted with them; finding out their challenges and key needs.

These visits usually end with a message of acknowledgment and appreciation for their business and a pledge to resolve outstanding issues.

Earlier this week, she was a familiar sight once again. This time it was to the busy Makola shopping district where she got the chance to engage three SME clients involved in the sale of different goods.

It was vintage she; always interested in knowing what the key economic challenges are, how her clients are handling the pressure and what she can do to ease their pain points.

The conversations drifted towards familiar territory of access to funds at convenient rates and the flexibility of the bank’s services and product offerings.

 The Managing Director was pretty much upbeat about the customers and their enthusiasm. She also took the opportunity to highlight the bank’s strong focus on supporting local SME businesses across different sectors of Ghana’s economy.

SMEs, undoubtedly, are the backbone of economic transformation in Ghana. They contribute more than 80 per cent to socio-economic growth and Absa’s strong footing in that space is a key part of the bank’s success, after only two years of existence in the country. 

A lot of thinking has gone into the bank’s positioning in the eyes of SME businesses. For example, a recent partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has transformed access to finance for most of these SMEs, especially the ones owned by women in the country.

The Mastercard Foundation agreement has opened doors for Absa, leading to a relationship with the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), which now makes it possible for SMEs to access up to GH¢1m collateral-free loans from the bank.

What is significant about this offering is that it fits into the perfect circumstance of these businesses, many of whom are trying to find their feet amidst the pandemic and general macroeconomic challenges. If the pandemic taught us nothing, it highlighted a return to prudence by banks in terms of lending. This makes Absa Bank a desired destination for SMEs due to readily available funds.

The clients were encouraged by her presence and expressed gratitude for the relationship, most of whom have been with the bank for decades, during the erstwhile Barclays era. 

Sharing her thoughts after the visits, the Managing Director said:”Our clients and customers matter to us because they are the reason for our existence. We are a bank that is excited by the role SMEs play in economic growth and how we are positioned to support and empower them. It is a strong commitment for us, and we shall continue to look for new and dynamic ways to help them grow.”

“Staying in touch with our customers has become a part of our culture and I am happy to be leading by example,” she said.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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