Ecobank Liberia Limited (ELL) has hosted the Ecobank-Chinese Business Forum (ECBF) in Monrovia with Management announcing that the Bank is working on a product exclusively for Chinese businesses operating in the country. The forum, the first of its kind ever in the banking industry, took place at the Chinese-own Golden Gate Hotel on July 11, with several Chinese business executives, special guests and Ecobank-Liberia staffs in attendance. It comes amid growing Chinese presence in the country.
The aim of the forum, the Management says, is to attract Chinese customers to save their monies with Ecobank. Ecobank-Liberia Managing Director Mr. Kola Adeleke, who introduced the forum, said the decision by Ecobank to pioneer the new relationship with the Chinese is intended to bolster the Bank’s relationship with Chinese businesses in the country.
Although Mr. Adeleke didn’t name the new product for his Chinese customers, he noted that if introduced, it will be exclusively for Chinese businesses to use as an instrument to transact with key business centers in the country.
He also disclosed that Ecobank Management is setting up a corporate desk exclusively for Chinese with a Chinese-Liberia local account officer in charge in Monrovia.
“I want to assure all our Chinese customers of our commitment to helping their businesses in Liberia and to ensure further strengthening of our business relationship,” said the Ecobank Managing Director.
He said the local Chinese-Liberia account officer will be a Liberian who is voiced enough in speaking Chinese.
“We are sure that this account officer will be able to deal with issues facing our Chinese customers in a special way,” he said. Mr. Adeleke’s remarks were relayed in Chinese to the Chinese audience by Mr. David Quame Appiah of Ecobank Ghana.
Mr. Appiah, according to Ecobank officials, studied how to read and write Chinese in China. “It is a great joy for us as managers of the Pan African Bank to establish we really care for the Chinese people in Liberia,” the Ecobank Managing Director stated.
He observed that Ecobank Bank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), parent company of Ecobank Group, sees China as a crucial partner for the development of Africa. According to the Ecobank Liberia Managing Director, ETI has been following China’s investment in Africa, which led the company to recognize it as a crucial partner for the development of the continent.
In 2013, China’s total investment in Africa is over US$210 billion dollars. Chinese at the Ecobank Chinese Business Forum made several inquiries from Management including the issue of visa and other debit cards.
They also requested Management to build an Ecobank Branch near the Chinese Embassy in Congo Town.
The Chinese also requested for multi-language automated teller machines mainly ones that have Chinese writings. In response, Mr. Adeleke assured the Chinese that he will take the issue of the Chinese language ATMs to ETI for discussion.
The Ecobank boss thanked the Chinese for bringing about the idea and declared that the current Ecobank ATMs are assigned for both English and French. On the issue of Chinese businesses who don’t have collateral accessing loan from Ecobank, Mr. Adeleke explained that since some of the Chinese don’t have assets for collateral, they can use the assets of their parent companies to acquire loan from the Bank.
On the issue of interest rate pricing as raised by the Chinese, Mr. Adeleke noted that the Bank will consider lowering pricing according to the case.
He told the Chinese that Ecobank Management is willing to sit and discuss the pricing. Meanwhile, the Chinese businesses have pledged to do business with Ecobank as they consider the Bank a partner.
One of the Chinese participating in the forum spoke of how Ecobank is making impact in the country. In her closing remarks, Ecobank Liberia Board Chair Mrs. Clavenda Bright-Parker said the Bank has seen the contribution of Chinese to the Liberian economy.
Mrs. Parker noted that as the Pan African Bank focusing on the development of Africa and Africans, Ecobank Liberia has decided to work with the Chinese who are also involved in developing Africa to support their businesses in Liberia.
“The Chinese have come a long way in becoming our strong partners and so we at Ecobank see them as our good friends,” she said.
“This is why we have decided to make available a special product exclusively for them (Chinese) which will be introduced soon. And this product will be accompanied by the setting up of a corporate at Ecobnak exclusively for them also,” said Mrs. Parker.