Starting with just Le500,000 seed capital, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB), in celebration of its 40 years of banking in Sierra Leone, has revealed a whopping Le 72,000,000,000 (Seventy-Two Billion Leone) shareholders’ fund since its inception in 1973.
The 40-year was celebrated past weekend around major streets surrounding the bank; with Police and Prince of Wales School Bands giving melodious fanfare and panorama, as a way of entertaining guests who were invited for the occasion.
In a brief expose on the bank’s challenges and successes since its establishment by Late President Siaka Stevens, the Managing Director of the Bank, Crispin Bishop Deigh, said that the 40 years, which will be symbolized by the hoisting of a white flag on the roof of the 12-storey building, will garner inspiration for the bank’s endeavor to grow in strength and capacity.
He said that the Late Siaka Stevens, in his comment on the official opening that year, did insist that its establishment was geared towards promoting indigenous people and other banking institutions to compete with the then two British Banks in the country.
He further noted that due to the diligence of the first management team, the bank had, out of whom only two are alive today (the first MD, Christian Smith and Abdulai Kakay), their resilience promoted the bank so far, to the level the public sees it today.
Henry Yagbah Bangura, a representative of the Board of Directors, buttressed that the usefulness of the bank has been widely acknowledged, and with the figures released at present, he showed optimism that the bank will continue to break grounds, and subsequently continue to pay government its annual dividends.
While launching an essay competition that the bank has sponsored among secondary school pupils across the country, the Board representative said that the move is geared towards improving the minds of students to enhance advanced preparation for public exams as well as increase their performance when they would have entered universities.
Representative of the National Privatization Commission, Mrs. Josephine Ansumana, admonished the Bank’s management to be cautious of the Commission’s oversight role on their operation.
She however commended the bank for showing its expertise to have survived financial cracks, when other banks were on the brink of collapse.
However, at the occasion, representative of the President of Sierra Leone, Chief of Staff, Dr. Richard Conteh, hoisted the celebration flag.
He noted in the speech, of the President, that the banks should consider extending their working hours beyond 3:30pm, to allow access of the public to these institutions.
He also urged the management to improve on their level of flexibility in a bid to allow increase in the already 10% of Sierra Leoneans with accounts, to an appreciable percentage, thereby instilling the culture of account-opening among indigenous Sierra Leoneans, for whom the bank was established.
The Chief of Staff further noted that SLCB should actively think of establishing branches in areas their services are needed mostly. Such venture, he continued, will also improve on awareness-raising on the importance of opening bank accounts, as a safer means of handling finances.
However, the COS, in a strongly worded comment, revealed the poor services offered by banks in the country, and said that such poor services have the propensity of discouraging people from opening accounts.
With regards the essay competition organized by SLCB, a prize of Le 5,000,000 is set apart for the first prize winner, Le 3,000,000 for second, and consolation prizes of Le 1,000,000 each.
It is advised however that relatives of staff, should not participate in the competition.
By Poindexter Sama