In a bid to promote a savings culture in the country, and to boost economic growth, a leading banking institution in the country, Ecobank Sierra Leone yesterday launched the Deposit Mobilization Campaign Promotion. The promotion will be climaxed by a draw for a star prize, which a brand new Rover car worth thousands of United State Dollars, plus other attractive prices.
In a statement at the launching ceremony at the bank's headquarters on Lightfoot Boston Street, acting head of Domestic Banking, Isha Sheriff, said they the Deposit Mobilization Campaign promotion was first launched four years ago to encourage their customers and Sierra Leoneans to save, having discovered that only two million out of a population of approximately six million save with banks and use services and products offered by banking institutions in the country.
She underscored that the reality is that majority of Sierra Leoneans are yet to discover services and projects local banks offer.
"In that regard, we at Ecobank believe is a sad state of affairs in the country which we have committed to change," she said. She added that the pan-African bank had commenced the campaign to encourage more Sierra Leoneans into the banking sector since 2010, which has seen their customers base grow tremendously, although they have had to entice some customers with cash prizes, and that the ultimate benefits that come with making use of the banking sector and its numerous products and services are immeasurable.
"It (the campaign) has given us the pleasure of making the difference in the lives of our savings campaign winners; we have had real life testimonies which everybody can testify," she said.
She recalled that previous promotion had a student winner who needed the exact three million Leones (Le3,000,000) he won to pay his college fees and enable him seat to his final examinations, while the bank left a smile on the face of one of their unemployed customers who won a cash prize which made a difference in not only his life but of his family.
"This year's savings campaign promotion will run for ten months climaxing our ground price draw in April 2015, and this time we have decided to raise the stakes and change from the cash prizes to something more tangible and the customer stand a chance of winning a brand new Rover saloon car," she announced adding that the star prize would be a great reward to the customer who consistently makes deposits and maintain a running balance of fifty million Leones in his account at the time of the draw in April 2015.
Delivering his keynote address, Country Representative of African Development Bank, Dr. Yeroh Baldeh, said the government has to develop incentives for savings and such could be in the form of tax-exemptions for specific savings products operated by banks and other financial intermediaries. He said government should also ensure strive to have a stable financial system in the country, because if there is instable in the financial system such would make it difficult to mobilize savings as agents of the economy would rather save somewhere else, including beneath mattresses.
Dr Baldeh said banks play a pivotal role in mobilizing savings to promote investment and that savings mobilization process by banks was a necessary precondition for a steady and balanced socio-economic development.
He urged the bank to focus its energy on its exiting valued clients by providing them with useful advisory services and favourable loan schemes, with current deposits as security, to help customers build up a good credit rating.
He said the bank should embark of analyses for the consumption of their customers, to make them aware of current happenings in the banking sector, including the standing of rival banks, branches, services and facilities they provide to their customers, plus the impact of their services to their customers. He said the bank should also review customers' credit balance base and get a target list of customers who appear to have surplus funds, as well as fully utilize Information, Communication and Technology and innovation.