Nzema Manle Rural Bank: The Hope Of Nzema
Despite some initial challenges, largely from members of the community, Nzema Manle Rural Bank has braved the storm and has been performing very well amongst the league of Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) in the Western Region.
The Western Region houses most of the strongest RCBs in the country. It, therefore, takes tact and ingenuity to stand out amongst the best. The Rural Banker visited the Aiyinasi Headquarters of the Bank to interact with the team and learn at first hand, how they have managed to cope for 38 years. We bring readers some rare insights below:
Branch network According to Thomas Quayson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bank, Nzema Manle Rural Bank has a total of ten branches, including the Head Office, which is located at Aiyinasi in the Ellembele District of the Western Region. The other branches are at, Awiebo, Asasetre and Eikwe all in the Ellembele District.
The others are Axim and Gwira Branches in the Nzema East Municipality, Elubo Branch in the Jomoro District, Jema and Boinso Branches in the Aowin District and the Takoradi Branch in the Sekondi – Takoradi Metropolis.
He stated that “some of the key innovations we brought on board include, strengthening of the Bank’s micro-finance proposition as a key focus area for deposit mobilization”.
“With my background and experience in micro-savings and credit, I decided to increase the number of mobile bankers and field monitors. I also decided to restructure the organogram of the Bank, which received overwhelming support from the Directors”, he said.
The main agenda, he noted, “was to motivate the staff and promote ingenuity among the management team, as I realized I could only succeed with well qualified and trained staff”.
He also challenged the staff to upgrade their knowledge and skills by enrolling in distance and professional education programmes. Some members of staff even took up graduate degree programmes, while most of them who were non-degree holders were encouraged to acquire first degrees through modular programmes.
Quayson revealed that more than 90 per cent of the staff at the Bank have therefore completed their first degrees.
He added that “working with staff with the required qualification and experience makes the implementation of strategies and plans very easy and I think my decision to increase the entry qualification for new entrants from the Secondary School Certificate to first degree had yielded a lot of dividends”, he added.
Some key achievements under his 11-year tenure include:
- Expansion of the branch network from five to ten.
- Gold Award as Rural Bank of the Year (Loan Disbursement) at the Western Regional Financial Services Excellence Awards organized by Top Brass Ghana under the auspices of the Western Regional Coordinating Council in November 2015.
- Gold Award for Best in Customer Service in Rural Banking at the Western Regional Financial Services Excellence Awards organized by Top Brass Ghana under the auspices of the Western Regional Coordinating Council in December 2018.
- Computerization of the Bank’s operations with technical support from MiDA and the ARB Apex Bank. The Bank relied on manual operations for 30 years.
- Installation of the Bank’s first automated teller machine (ATM) at the Aiyinasi Branch.
- Total assets grew from GH¢1.99m in December 2007 to GH¢34.20m in December 2018.
- Total deposits grew from GH¢1.74m in December 2017 to GH¢28.70m in December 2018.
Employees lend support
According to Quayson, “working with my management team has been amazing. I cherish the support, sacrifices and loyalty they have shown through my eleven years at the helm of affairs. I think I have earned their support based on my management style”.
There are mutual respect and trust between me and all the employees of the Bank. “I always encourage them to put in their best efforts and to strive to achieve more for the Bank,” he added. The Bank has a total permanent staff of 136 of which 70 are male and 66 are female.
Nzema Manle Rural Bank has three broad product offerings for individuals, small and medium enterprises and corporate institutions. The specific products which have contributed to the growth of the Bank include:
Personal Banking Propositions
- Nzema Manle Savings Account
- Nzema Manle Fixed Deposit Account
- Nzema Manle AutoSave and Loan Account
- Nzema Salaried Worker Loan and Advances
- Nzema Manle Smart Personal Loan
- Nzema Manle Account Guadivo Loan (Group Lending)
- Nzema Manle EduCare Account
- Nzema Cocoa Farmers Loan
SME Banking Propositions
- Nzema Manle Current Account
Corporate Banking Propositions
- Nzema Manle Current Account
- Nzema Manle Overdraft
- Nzema Manle Working Capital Loan
- Nzema Manle Fixed Asset Loan
- Fixed Deposit Account
- Nzema Manle Business Flexi Save Account
The Bank also has specialized products such as:
Nzema Manle Gh-Save Account
This is a Savings Account opened with remittance proceeds from abroad called Nzema Manle Gh-Save Account. It is a hybrid of current and savings account for individuals living abroad but need to cater for other obligations back home, such as monthly stipends for their aged relatives or parents or even to pay for their relations’ school fees or to save for some other projects. Customers just need to send monies directly into this dedicated account through Western Union, Vigo, or RIA money transfers.
Nzema Manle Guadivo Loan (Group Lending)
This is a specialized unsecured loan facility for petty traders who would ordinarily not be able to access traditional bank credit, due to their inability to keep proper records or to provide collateral. The petty traders must, however, form savings and credit associations to be able to access the facility.
To qualify for a facility under the scheme, group members should engage in non-farming income-generating ventures, should be traders or pretty traders, and should be resident in the same town.
Nzema Manle EduCare Account With this account, beneficiaries save towards the educational needs such as tuition, feeding fees, etc. Under the scheme, parents or guardians can save towards higher education and professional examination of their kids.
The Nzema Manle EduCare Account is designed for all income-earning individuals in both the formal and informal sectors.
A client who has a salaried or regular paying job can operate this account.
It is a risk-free savings plan that offers flexibility in savings towards education and also provides high interest rates.
Meet Thomas Quayson, Chief Executive Officer
Appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2008, Thomas Quayson was regarded at the time as the youngest CEO in the Rural and Community Banking (RCB) sub-sector. He has led Nzema Manle Rural Bank to chalk many firsts including being the recipient of its first ever Gold Award as the Rural Bank of the Year (Loan Disbursement) at the first Western Regional Financial Services Excellence Awards organized by Top Brass Ghana under the auspices of the Western Regional Coordinating Council in November 2015. He also led the Bank to win a Gold Award
for Best in Customer Service in Rural Banking in December 2018 also from Top Brass Ghana. Under his able watch, Nzema Manle Rural Bank was also ranked among the strongest RCBs
in the country in 2016. He has grown the branch network from five to ten branches within eleven years.
Work life and Education
Thomas joined Nzema Manle Rural Bank on January 2, 2002, as a Project Officer, responsible for the Bank’s micro-finance group savings and lending scheme until he was appointed CEO in 2008. He has therefore been with the Bank for 18 years, eleven of which has been at the helm.
Thomas holds a Bachelor’s Degree (Commerce) and an MBA in General Management both from the University of Cape Coast. He is also a product of Fijai Senior High School in the Western Region.
A member of the Institute of Directors, Ghana, and a training resource person at the Western Regional Chapter of the Association of Rural Banks, Ghana, Thomas is also a Council member at the Bonzo Kaku Senior High School in Awiebo.
In 2017, he was nominated for the prestigious Forty-Under-40 Award (Banking and Finance Category), an award that seeks to celebrate Forty Achievers and Emerging Leaders under the age of 40 years. The award was organised by Xo-Dus Communications and endorsed by the Ministry of Business Development.
Memorable moments at the Bank He recollects that one of his most memorable moments at the Bank was when the tenth branch of the Bank was opened in Takoradi. “ It was the day I will cherish for a very long time because the Takoradi Branch was so strategic to our operations so we put in so much energy to see to its fruition”, he said.
He added that the Takoradi Branch has changed the face of Nzema Manle Rural Bank and how we serve our valued customers across the region. “Another memorable moment
was the automation of the bank’s operations”, he revealed. He added that , “I happened to witness manual banking before the introduction of the T-24 banking software by the ARB Apex Bank, and I can tell you that we used weeks in balancing our ledgers in those days, and you could imagine how we would cope if we were to be doing same manual banking with an expanded branch network”.
He said the “expansion of our microfinance project led to an increase in the number of ledgers which we had to balance before the end of the month”.
He said he and his team were overjoyed when the Bank’s operations were automated.
Processes in the Bank have therefore been enhanced since the manual operations have been completely eliminated.
Mr Emmanuel Yankson Kwofie Chairs the Board
The current Directors include Mr Emmanuel Yankson Kwofie, Chairman, Mr N.Y. Akainyah, Vice Chairman, Dr Charles Godfred Ackah, Justice Henry Anthony Kwofie, Mr Thomas K. Tandoh, Rev Williams Sarpong, and Mr Wisdom Quaiku. Mr Kwofie has been Board Chair for the past seven years.
The Bank has more than 2,000 ordinary shareholders, spread across the length and breadth of the Western Region.
According to the Board Chairman his fellow Directors have always been punctual at meetings, they respond to directives from the chair and have been very effective during discussions at board meetings.
Nzema-Manle Rural Bank (Limited), originally known as the Nzema Evalue Awiebo Rural Bank (Limited) with registered offices at Aiyinasi in the Ellembele District of Ghana, was
incorporated on July 14, 1980, but commenced banking operations on April 3, 1981.
The Bank was originally founded by the following five indigenes namely: Nana Ehoma Kpanyinli and his wife, Nana Bonya Kofi (alias Capt. Kwofie), Hon Appiah Ndan Arthur (MP), Mr Amramah (Counselor), Mr J.B. Anaman (District Chief Executive of Nkroful at the time), and Mr J.N.Y Akainyah. The first chairman of the Board of Directors was Mr J.A. Quainoo (deceased), while Mary Eva Acquah and Mary Nkrumah were the first employees of the Bank.
The name of the Bank was changed from Nzema Evalue Awiebo Rural Bank (Limited) to Ellembelle Rural Bank
(Limited) on March 23, 1983, and then to the current name on October 7, 1983. Some initial challenges encountered by the Bank included attracting new people to buy shares, canvassing for customers, and stiff resistance from members of the community who did not want the Bank to succeed.
According to Mr Kwofie, “our main competitors include Ahantaman Rural Bank, Ankobrah West Rural Bank, Jomoro Rural Bank, CAL Bank, GN Savings and Micro-Finance Companies in the catchment area.
He revealed that the keen competition is the main reason why the Bank keeps diversifying its portfolios and also decided to establish a branch in Takoradi to take care of the needs of urban customers as well as “ensure efficient and timely transactions for our teeming customers”. “The competition also pushes us to go into the rural areas of the Region”, he added.
Due to the competition, “we have been providing internal training for our staff, while at the same time, organizing discussions with our customers”. He believes some of these strategies have contributed to the growth of the Bank.
Giving back to the communities Over the years, the Bank has been engaged in many corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects in the communities in which they operate. Some of these CSR programmes are: the construction of a market centre for the Awiebo community, support for the construction of a Science block at Bonso Kaku Senior High School, donation of furniture to Awiebo Bassake DC Junior High School as well as assistance for the rehabilitation of the Resident Doctor’s bungalow at the Aiyinasi Health Centre.
The Board Chairman also noted that “Nzema Manle Rural Bank offered assistance for the construction of the Aiyinasi Health Centre and the St. Martin de Porres Hospital at Eikwe”. Over the past three years, “we have contributed a total of GH¢154,500 towards some of these worthy causes”. Mr Kwofie stressed that “the construction of the Science block has improved Science education at the Bonsu Kaku Senior High School. Patrons at the two health facilities we have supported are also comfortable when they attend the hospitals. Health care delivery has therefore improved a lot”.
Caution against false alarms
Mr Kwofie advised members of the public to be cautious about creating needless panic in the financial system because such false news often leads to panic withdrawals from the RCBs. He stated that on June 6, 2019, for example, Nzema Manle Rural Bank was hit by panic withdrawals by customers totalling GH¢1,331, 668.00, which negatively affected the operations of the Bank.
Even the big banks with very large balance sheets cannot survive long periods of bank runs, “therefore we should all be mindful of the false news we circulate about our banks”, he added.
Mr Kwofie noted that Nzema Manle Rural Bank has survived for thirty-eight
(38) years by paying special attention to meeting the financial needs of the communities adding that, “we have not experienced any major setback in the many decades we have been operating. This is because we have been measured in assuming certain types of risks”.
He advised fellow directors to “campaign for more customers and support their banks because that is the very reason they have been put on the boards”.
It is evident from the statistics showed above that Nzema Manle Rural Bank has been doing some amazing work in the Nzema area. That is why The Rural Banker has decided to refer to the Bank as the hope of Nzema.