Margaret Afari-Assan: 35 years of Dedication to the RCB Industry
After 35 years of dedicated service to the Rural and Community Banking fraternity, Ms Margaret Afari Assan has gracefully retired from active service. In a hearty chat with The Rural Banker, a happy Ms Assan narrated all her experiences.
Years with the Association of Rural Banks (ARB)
Ms Assan was employed as a Confidential Secretary at the ARB in November 1983 after having left the University of Ghana where she worked initially for three years. According to her, they were only three officers at the ARB at the time she joined, “the Administrator, Mr A.G.T. Ofori of blessed memory, the Office Assistant, Mr Isaac Adja Sodja and myself as the Confidential Secretary”.
The Secretariat started in 1984 and “as the Secretary, I had to do all the administrative work at the Association. I designed the original logo for the Association, introduced all the relevant stationery and started a newsletter as well”. She revealed that she was the only female officer employed by the Association until “1999 when Mrs Comfort Owusu also joined as the Manager for Corporate Affairs”. According to her, the staff strength of the Association at the time was 12, made up of four senior officers and eight junior officers.
Demands at the Association
Ms Assan revealed that work at the Association was very demanding at the initial stages because the Association
did not even have an official vehicle. Therefore, “the staff had to depend on Mr Ofori’s personal old Volvo Saloon car, which was nicknamed by officers at the Association as ‘tetanus car’ because of its rickety nature”.
“We managed to travel with the old Volvo car to the length and breadth of the country, organizing training programmes, Annual General Meetings (AGMs)”, she stated, adding that sometimes, they had to spend months in some regions because, they were organizing multiple training programmes for tellers, back office staff, and managers of the Rural and Community Banks (RCBs).
“This tedious routine was very challenging and demanded a lot of sacrifice because I had to stay away from home, working in the regions for several months. That was the routine for every year. But of course, it offered me the opportunity to know the locations of all the RCBs in the country and I deem that a rare privilege”, she added with a big smile.
Sojourn at the ARB Apex Bank
After 16 years of unblemished work at the Association, Auntie Margie, as she is affectionately called by her colleagues, resigned in the year 2000 and joined the ARB Apex Bank the same year.
Roles at the ARB Apex Bank
Ms Assan was employed as the Administrative Secretary to Mr Emmanuel K. Kwapong, the first Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank. After an initial stint at the then MD’s Secretariat and due to her knowledge in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), she was tasked by the MD to assume a temporary Team Lead for ICT before a permanent ICT Manager was appointed. She was transferred to the ICT Department in the year 2003, when the Banking Software (E-merge) for the ARB Apex Bank and the RCBs was about being introduced. Mr Assan revealed that, “I was part of the technical team, which travelled to India for the E-merge software training programme, which was later changed to T24 Software”.
During the implementation of the E-merge software “I was responsible for the data section. We started the implementation with Sekyere, Atwima Mponua and Odotobri Rural Banks. After a successful implementation, the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) introduced the Virtual All Site Banking and Data Centre. I progressed to the Data Centre – “Call Centre” when it was set up and was made the Data Centre Manager in charge of Help Desk, which is now Customer Service”.
Ms Assan was transferred to the Training Department as a Manager in 2013. She mentioned that the Department was formerly headed by Mr Richard Mettle-Addo of blessed memory.
Memorable Moments She disclosed that her most memorable moment was the time they referred to as the ‘all-inclusive days’, which meant that the salary they were paid was all inclusive and covered, lunch, medicals, transportation and everything one could think about. “You ate what you were given and slept where you were offered during visits to Margaret Afari Assan the RCBs”, she added. According to her, “my joyful moment was when we started the ARB Apex Bank. We had to sacrifice and work hard from
the scratch in order to improve the operations of the RCBs and satisfy them. In fact, there is always joy in seeing RCBs happy when the work done yields positive results and when you see that your sacrifice was for a good course”.
Advice to ARB Apex Bank and RCBs
She advised that, “One should be willing to sacrifice on the job. We should be dedicated and committed to the work we do and every member of staff should maintain the prevailing peace, which is essential for improving productivity in the work environment”. “Little did I know that
I would also one day retire from active service and remember or be remembered as someone who contributed to developing the original logo of the Association and also helped in the establishment of some of the legacy projects at the ARB Apex Bank”, she added, noting that every member of staff should just give of the best as posterity would reward every effort.
Ms Assan did a total of 19 years at the ARB Apex Bank together with 16 years at the Association of Rural Banks, making a total of 35 years, which makes her arguably one of the longest serving female officers of the Rural Banking fraternity in the country.