Interview with Noah Otuteye
Head of Finance at ABii National Savings and Loans Limited (local partner of Lendahand in Ghana; see also this article -Nederlands)
Noah, could you tell a bit more about yourself?
I started my professional carrier with Ernst and Young Ghana, a firm of global Chartered Accountants. I have a wide range of experience across Assurance, Banking and Telecommunication. Currently, I’m Head of Finance and Treasury at ABii National. In the past, I graduated from the University of Ghana Business School and therefore I received a BSc Administration (Accounting Option). Furthermore, I’m a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) UK and the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) Ghana. Finally, I hold an MBA in Finance from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
Why did you decide to work for ABii National?
Having worked for global firms such as Ernst and Young, Amalgamated Bank Limited (now Bank of Africa), Eaton Towers Ghana Limited etc over the past decade, I realized the need to put my skills to better serve the needs of my country and community. Due to the fact that most businesses in Ghana are SMEs, I was on the lookout for a company that has a mission to support SMEs. ABii National’s top priority is to partner with SMEs to grow together. Realizing the link between ABii National’s vision and my personal aspirations, I opted to work for ABii, so I can help to improve the lives of many individuals and SMEs in Ghana.
What is ABii’s (social) mission? What is the core business?
Mission ABii National
ABii National aims to become a first class universal bank of choice by deploying the best personnel and technology to deliver excellent banking services to all customers especially SMEs and increasing shareholders value.
Core Business ABii National
Accept deposits from the general public and grant loans with particular emphasis on the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana and beyond.
Are there other areas where ABii differentiates from competitors in Accra?
ABii creates a partnership and a relationship with their clients for their mutual benefit of all parties. For ABii it is not enough to give out a loan and expect that it is repaid on expiration. We partner the client the best way possible so they pay back the loan and at the same time remain profitable.
In these partnerships with clients you mainly provide financing. Why is it important to finance SMEs in Ghana? What is the effect?
It is important because the SME sector contributes about 70% of Ghana’s GDP. The effect will be that Ghana’s GDP has a great growth potential with the growth of the SME sector. Additionally, financing SMEs helps to reduce the rising unemployment in Ghana.
Are there any alternatives for SMEs with regards to obtaining funding in Ghana?
Typically the SMEs do not meet the requirements of the banks to access loan facilities. Thus apart from personal savings, families and friends, they have to borrow from the Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). MFIs often charge 7-10% interest per month. This high cost of borrowings results in low profits by small business owners. Thus ABii National interest charges are very attractive to SMEs and we also give them free advisory services to help them grow their business.
Thanks so much for your answers. Our last question is with regards to the impact of your loans. How many jobs does an entrepreneur on average create with a loan?
The extra jobs information is obtained from the small business owners themselves. They tell us our loans enables them expand to meet customers’ demands. Thus they are able to employ extra hands in the region of around 10 people per loan (created and sustained jobs) to help with either distribution, manufacturing or administrative works.