February 25, 2015 By Hawa Amara
President Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday, February 20 officially opened the largest Union Trust Bank (UTB) branch office in Mile 91, Yoni Chiefdom in the Tonkolili District. The branch office will also serve as a regional specie depot and a training centre.
President Koroma applauded founder and Chief Executive Officer of Union Trust Bank, James Sanpha Koroma, for being consistent in his drive to take banking to the doorstep of people. He noted that such demonstrated that Sierra Leoneans can do it.
“This is a sign of achievement we should be proud of,” he said.
He noted that if Sierra Leoneans could work together, they would be successful, adding that while government continues to put money into banks owned by government across the country, Union Trust Bank remains to be a paragon of banking success.
He said the bank has created employment for many Sierra Leoneans, as it contributes to the economic development of the country.
In his statement, Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Momodu Kargbo, said there are 18 commercial banks in the country with 97 branches and out of which Union Trust Bank has 12 branches, which constitutes 12.7 percent, adding that only 14 percent of the country’s population has active bank accounts.
The Bank Governor noted that UTB has been in the forefront of supporting small and medium enterprises, providing 14.28 percent of total funds given to enterprises as loans by all commercial banks operating in the country.
He commended the board of directors, management and staff of Union Trust Bank for taking banking to the doorstep of people.
Chairperson, Board of Directors of UTB, Haja Hajaratu Musu Mahdi, noted that 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the full operation of UTB as the sole indigenous private commercial bank, and also the 20th anniversary of the operations of the Global Western Union money transfer services in Africa, with UTB being the first institutional partner.
“As we welcome you here today, let us all celebrate our achievements both as a provider of universal financial services and as a strong partner in the largest money transfer service in the world,” Haja Mahdi said. “Over these twenty years, we have extended our services far beyond our projections which have had huge impact on the quality and relevance of financial services country-wide.
“We have the largest network in terms of branches, outlets, points of sale, agencies and sub-agencies. It is the only bank in nine out of the 13 geographical districts, and we have the strongest and most extensive penetration in the small and medium scale enterprise development in the country,” the UTB board chair maintained.
She said the bank has survived quite fairly against intensive competition posed by foreign banks that now constitute the majority within the banking industry.
Founder and CEO of UTB, James Sanpha Koroma, assured that Union Trust Bank is fully committed to being a national business, serving all Sierra Leoneans fairly and diligently nationwide.
“I will fall short of my task if I do not seize the opportunity of this occasion to acknowledge and thank very profusely His Excellency the President, the international community and all Sierra Leoneans who have devoted tireless efforts in the fight against the Ebola virus epidemic,” Mr. Koroma said.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Matthew Teambo, who chaired the occasion, said the opening of the branch office in Mile 91 would facilitate the growth of businesses, contribute to social and economic development, create employment and offer college internship opportunity to residents.