A Pharaoh Who Knows Joseph: Diaspora Nimbaians Rally to the Cause

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The new Executive Governor, Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Mr. Milton Weeks, last weekend, inaugurated the Tappita Rural Community Finance Institution (TRCFI).

He announced that TRCFI is not just a financial institution, but actually a bank, which will offer the customers both savings and checking accounts as well as money transfers through MoneyGram and Western Union. Credit unions and village savings and loan associations (VSLAs), which are beneficiaries of the CBL’s credit facilities, may also make payments through the TRCFI.

The Executive Governor praised the Tappita people for raising more than the US$25,000 needed as their contribution to match CBL’s funding of US$25,000 to get the bank in rural Tappita started.

Nimbaians in the Diaspora had also rallied to the cause of creating Tappita’s first bank, Governor Weeks announced to the crowd gathered for the bank’s inauguration. They had, he said, transferred to Tappita a staggering amount of nearly US$38,000 as their contribution to start the bank! That investment from abroad alone, Weeks declared, was an incredible 66% of the amount needed from Tappita! Therefore the total amount raised by Nimbaians at home and abroad for the creation of this bank “was over ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the needed capital,” said Governor Weeks.

This means that thanks to the patriotism of Nimbaians, their commitment to the cause of their county’s development and the creation of a new bank, they did not really need the CBL’s US$25,000.

But Governor Weeks assured the Daily Observer that CBL’s US$25,000 was used to erect the building housing the bank.

There are some attributes of these Nimba people that all Liberians should emulate—Nimbaians’ seriousness, love for their county and commitment to foster its development. Only yesterday we devoted the Editorial to a Nimba lady who started as a very young woman selling pepper soup and rice on a Ganta sidewalk. Today she is erecting a two-story building! The ground floor will be for a 180-seat restaurant; the upper floor for weddings and other events. Little did we know that a day later we would be compelled to devote another Editorial to Nimba County.

The TRCFI, according to Governor Weeks, is the 11th such institution in eight counties. CBL rates the Tappita bank as the first of its kind in money transfer transactions.

It is particularly heartening to note that Liberia’s rural people, who first seriously felt the impact of financial inclusion several years ago through the initiative of former CBL Executive Governor, Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, are now finding renewed hope through the new CBL Executive Governor, Milton Weeks.

Remember that in our last February 25 Editorial published upon Dr. Jones’ retirement, we wondered whether there would come to rural Liberia another Pharaoh who may NOT know Joseph. There has come a new Pharaoh, Milton Weeks, who does indeed know Joseph—the rural poor, to whom he is determined to extend Governor Jones’ microfinance empowerment. The Tappita bank, the TRCFI, which was created a little over a year ago by Governor Jones, is the nation’s first people-owned financial institution capable of facilitating money transfers.

In a clear indication that he shares former Governor Jones’ commitment to rural finance empowerment, Governor Weeks told his audience last Friday that CBL was “committed to financial inclusion across the country.”

One of CBL’s goals, said Governor Weeks, “is to provide people the access to financial services in their communities at a reduced cost.”

The TRCFI, he insisted, is owned not by CBL or Afriland Bank, who are providing technical support, but by Nimbaians themselves, who have bought shares in the bank.

Nimba’s District Education Officer, Deepah Karneh, hailed the bank as “a relief to the teachers, who will no longer have to travel to Ganta – nearly five hours away – and endure weeks of waiting to receive their checks.”

Nimba Senator Thomas Grupee, speaking during the inauguration, urged Tappitaians to remain patriotic and take good care of their bank.

Nimbaians—and rural people throughout Liberia—MUST, for they now know they are in the hands of a new Pharaoh who most definitely knows Joseph.

Tappitaians are especially blessed because their bank’s Chairman, Sandei Cooper, is an experienced banker, former senior executive of Citibank, Monrovia. The blessing comes through his wife Amelia, a native of Tappita, where they now live permanently.

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