When I reflect on our journey as a bank, it is the profound impact we make on people's lives that brings a genuine smile to my face. The reason we wake up every day with enthusiasm is to fulfill the needs of our customers, whether they are individuals, businesses, or organizations.
At the heart of banking lies the art of lending and borrowing, and for Absa Bank, our noble business purpose is clear – to contribute to real sector growth in Ghana. We recognise that our success is directly linked to the success of the individuals, organizations, and businesses we serve.
Recently, we hosted the Absa Inspire Me Conference in Accra, bringing influential women leaders and entrepreneurs from across Africa together. Witnessing the transformative power of our SME banking proposition, empowering women and entrepreneurs, has been truly inspiring. I was particularly touched by the impactful stories they shared.
Our SME Loan at 10% product, disbursed up to GHS1m without collateral, is a game-changing first for Ghana; revolutionizing the way banking is perceived by the businesses and individuals whose contribution drive the country’s growth. Since its launch in the second quarter of this year, I am thrilled that more than GHS60m has been disbursed and counting.
Our total lending to SMEs and individuals, for example, amounted to GHS1.4 billion last year alone – a figure that is expected to go up by the end of this financial year. Additionally, we have collaborated with the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), giving loans to its members up to GHS1m without collateral – testament to a commitment to real sector growth support. We have created close to 11,000 individual jobs under the Absa Young Africa Works programme, in partnership with Mastercard Foundation.
The impact of our efforts extends beyond financial services: we have embraced technology, making banking more accessible through digital channels. For example, our Absa QR Code product allows customers to withdraw money at ATMs using their phones (an industry-first), redefining banking as an accessible service.
Our commitment to social responsibility drives us to invest in education, environmental conservation, and skills development. Just last year, we made substantial contributions of GHS1.6m to STEM education, planted 10,000 trees in support of climate change initiatives, and impacted thousands of young minds through our ReadytoWork digital skills programme. It is the cumulative effect of all these partnerships that drive our shared success; making us a company that is driven by a commitment to our customers, clients and communities.
None of this would be possible without the dedication of our team and the support of our stakeholders, including our Employees, Board and Regulators. As we continue to be your partner of choice through the changing times, our central focus remains understanding each of our customers and delivering effective solutions. Our overall commitment is to empower Africa's tomorrow, together - one story at a time.
By embracing impact and purpose, we are not only partnering those who drive economic growth, but we are also creating positive change in the communities where we operate. Together, we have embarked on a journey to transform lives and businesses with passion and dedication in Ghana; and it’s a commitment to uphold.