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Thought Leaders in Ghana

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Q&A with Julian Kingsley Opuni, Deputy MD, Fidelity Bank


You are known for  excellence in creating  international partnerships, joint ventures and synergies within the international business community, how has this process evolved over the years?

Our vision is to create a world-class bank in Africa. In 10 years, we have become the largest Ghanaian, private sector bank in Ghana. This journey has not been achieved on our own. We are built on partnerships. When we needed technology as our operations expanded, we partnered with IBM, a global leader in technology, to stabilize our technology platform. We also bought Pro Credit in 2014 in our quest to expand our branch network and to strengthen our SME business.

Our core mission is how we impact the people and communities around us, and so we have partnered with several developmental organisations such as USAID, Financial Sector Deepening Africa, GIZ, Solidaridad and SNV to impact many lives in remote rural locations with financial services. As we advance into the digital era, we will continue to lead that charge through partnerships with various fintech and telcos. Products such our Yello Save,which is a partnership with MTN, will help us provide financial services quicker and faster to more people.

Looking back on the first decade or so with your firm, what have been the most significant developments in your bank?

Fidelity Bank’s strength in an arguably challenged banking environment is grounded firmly in the quality of our balance sheet and the adequacy of our capital. We were ranked 2nd among the top 10 banks (by balance sheet size) in terms of capital adequacy ratio in 2018. 

Over 75% of our balance sheet was in liquid and near liquid investments. We understand the trade-off between liquidity, risk and return,and our tactical strategy has been to make the necessary re-balancing adjustments to remain profitable and strong.

Fidelity Bank has embraced the digital landscape, offering a myriad of products and services for both Corporate and Personal Banking customers. Our most popular digital solutions for individual customers, is the Fidelity Mobile App which was built with the customer’s most important needs in mind. It is super easy to use, fast and very secure. You can generate eStatements, perform FX sale, make card limit requests, QR code to merchants,make internal transfer or transfer money to any mobile money wallet. 


 Julian Kingsley Opuni, Deputy MD, Fidelity Bank. Picture: Supplied

In our quest to make the society and the world at large a more sustainable place to live, we were awarded the Best CSR Bank for the second time at the 2015 Ghana Banking Awards. In 2016, we also won the best CSR Bank in the Sixth Ghana CSR Excellence Awards (GHACEA).

Ghana has one of the poorest sanitation records in Africa. To provide supply side solutions to sanitation, Fidelity Bank partnered with the Embassy for the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) and SNV Netherlands Development Organization to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). With the support of USAID, the SMART Agri finance project was actively implemented with our field partners, SNV. 

This was primarily to raise the awareness of a savings culture through the use of digitized payment systems among small holder farmers(especially women). We provided over 2,600 farmers financial education, about 65% of them were women.

How do you impart knowledge to the younger generation?

We believe that the best way in which we can support the younger generation is through financial empowerment. 

We do that by developing innovative financial products that allow younger people to access easily finance.  

Our Smart Account and Agency banking proposition has enabled many young people to receive their first bank accounts. These accounts go with financial education materials that allow them to understand how to use their accounts. 

Cocoa is the mainstay of our economy, yet the average age of a cocoa farmer is over 55 yrs. We are working with Solidaridad with support from the MasterCard Foundation to deliver financial education to many young people to encourage them to take up cocoa farming.

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Invest in Rwanda, A Country With Unconventional Vision And Leadership

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Advertorial by Rwanda Development Board

Since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Rwanda has risen from $752million to $9.5 billion in 2018, and the GDP per capita has grown from $125.5 to $787 during the same period. Due to Rwanda’s internationally recognized universal access to healthcare policy called ‘Mutelle de Sante’ life expectancy has risen from 29 years in 1994 to 67 years in 2016. Inflation has fallen from 101% in 1995 to 1.1% in 2018 and Rwanda has jumped over 100 places in the World Bank Doing Business Index, today ranking 38th globally and 2nd in Africa.

 Furthermore, with the 9 Year Basic Education policy, Rwanda has seen the average expected years of schooling rise from 6.2 years in 1995 to 11.2 years in 2017. These numbers, both the increases and decreases, are not merely statistics on paper, they reveal a people who have taken the reins of destiny into their own hands. Following the defeat of the genocidal forces by the Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels led by now president, Paul Kagame, many highly qualified development experts believed that the fabric of Rwandan society was irrevocably torn asunder. Over one million people had been killed in less than 100 days, over 3 million had fled the country to refugee camps in Tanzania, Burundi and the DRC (then Zaire), the national treasury was looted and there weren’t even pens and paper in government departments.

 Speaking to members of the Australian chapter of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) in May last year President Kagame was asked this question, “experts say that a turnaround from a cataclysmic event such as genocide is supposed to take a century or at least a generation, how was Rwanda able to do so in only twenty years”? President Kagame mentioned the main aspects of the Rwandan turnaround; thinking big, having a vision, refusing to get stuck in the status quo, believing in, and having faith in the vision and, lastly, making sure that the journey is inclusive by bringing people in and creating possibilities for them to make their contribution.

 Rwanda does not have the usual ingredients for economic transformation. It does not have a wealth of natural resources such as oil or diamonds, it is landlocked, it has one of the highest population densities in the world. However, Rwanda has a will to build a better, more prosperous nation.

 What Rwanda did was put together a development plan called ‘Vision 2020’. This plan envisioned a Rwanda that was middle-income and knowledge-based. With a GDP growth rate which was dominated by double digits over the last 10 years, we are reaping the fruits of the ambitious plan.

 One of the fruits is the emerging MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sector. Who could have imagined that 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda would become home to one of the most iconic and most expensive buildings in Africa, the KCC (Kigali Convention Center)? The KCC, a venue that includes a five-star hotel and conference facilities that can host over 5,000 delegates, will this year host, among other world class events, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). To date, KCC has hosted the African Union Heads of State summit, the Transform Africa summit as well as a myriad of regional and international events and conferences.

 The KCC has not been the only such ‘out of the box’ investment that the Government of Rwanda has made to create value where no one expected. A decade or so ago, the Government insisted on building the country’s very first five-star hotel, the present-day Kigali Serena hotel. Our development partners baulked at the investment, saying that there was no need for such a high-end facility. The Government, believing in its vision, went ahead and built the hotel thereby creating the anchor accommodation facility that opened Rwanda to the opportunity of becoming a regional destination for business travel and MICE. The country now has five 5-star hotels and more are opening up this year. Furthermore, high end accommodation establishments have opened their branches across different parts of Rwanda. To create the ecosystem that a vibrant MICE sector needed, the national carrier Rwandair was established, investments in skills and capacity building were made and the private sector was encouraged and supported to invest in the sector.

 Because the Government refused to take a laissez-faire attitude to the development of the MICE and the overall tourism sector, investments that we have registered in the sector as the Rwanda Development Board have totaled $1.5 billion since the year 2000. Hotel rooms have increased from 623 in 2003 to 14, 866 in 2018, tourism revenues have jumped from $131 million in 2006 to over $300 million with MICE tourism revenue numbers growing from inconsequential numbers in 2000 to $55 million in 2018. We expect that all the numbers will grow by at least 10% per year and projections show that the tourism sector will be worth $800 million by the end of 2024.

 This might seem ambitious, but we believe in our vision and we are actively working towards fulfilling it. That is why we partnered with different partners, including but not limited to Arsenal FC and Paris Saint Germain, English and French football teams respectively, to market Rwanda as a destination for tourism, MICE and investment. That is why Rwandair is increasing both its fleet as well as its destinations in Africa, North America, Europe and Asia and that is why we are currently building a new international airport in Bugesera, on the outskirts of Kigali, in partnership with Qatar. In addition, we have taken an active role in building an Africa that freely trades with itself through the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACTFA) and internally we have reformed both our business environment and visa regimes.

The business community has followed our lead. Last year, we registered over $2.4 billion in investments on the back of over 8% GDP growth. Leading global businesses such as Volkswagen, Motorola Solutions, Andela and Radisson today provide jobs to young Rwandans graduating from global institutions of learning that are based in Rwanda such as Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to the recent opening of the first smartphone factory by Mara Phones; companies including Volkswagen (in partnership with Siemens), Ampersand, and Safiride are also rolling out environment friendly transport solutions through electric vehicles and motorcycles on the street of Kigali and other parts of Rwanda.

 When we tell businesses that Rwanda is the right place to invest in, we are confident that they will find the right environment to thrive. Why? Because we built that environment.

Mr. Zephanie Niyonkuru is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the Rwanda Development Board. The Rwanda Development Board is a one stop shop for investors, bringing business registration, investment promotion, tourism, ICT development, SMEs, human capacity development, privatization and specialist agencies under one institution.

Zephanie Niyonkuru

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Africa’s Top Employers 2020

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Top Employers Institute is the global HR authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions. For over 28 years, our firm has been dedicated to accelerating the impact of people strategies to enrich the world of work through certification, benchmarking, and connecting Top Employers around the world.

Through our HR Best Practices Survey, we enable organisations to assess and improve their workplace environment. Recognition through our programme helps companies become elevated as an employer of choice. We certify organisations worldwide. We recognise Top Employers based on a global four-stage programme governed by a strict standardised process. The leading-edge international research we conduct each year determines whether an organisation meets the required standard of excellence for Top Employer certification.

Africa’s Top Employers for 2020 were officially announced in November last year at the annual Top Employer’s Certification Dinner. A record 230 organisations officially registered to participate in the 2020 programme, 210 organisations spanning 32 African countries and 23 industry sectors were certified throughout the evening. 96 organisations will now carry the South African certification, while 114 Top Employers from 31 other African territories will carry their country specific certification. Top Employers Institute also recognised 17 continental Top Employers who have achieved certification in 4 or more countries.

Billy Elliott, Top Employers Institute Regional Manager: Africa, says that the certification provides employers with an important quality metric that enables them to position their brands more effectively in the attraction, retention, and engagement of top talent. “The Top Employers Institute is not just about certifying Africa’s Top Employers. We have seen a progression of HR in Africa over the last few years, and it is our role to empower and advance people strategies across the world. We are driven not just to certify but to benchmark and connect outstanding employers around the world,” he said.

These are organisations of the highest calibre, continuously working hard to create, implement and advance their people practices. This group of Top Employers provide an outstanding workplace experience, empower employees, and make the working world a greater place.

Read more about Africa’s 2020 Top Employers in the Forbes Africa supplement [HERE]

Have you got what it takes to be a Top Employer?

Visit www.top-employers.com/en-ZA/get-certified for more information.

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BOSS X Meissen Capsule Collection Inspired by The Big Five

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Johannesburg, 6 December 2019. BOSS celebrated its holiday capsule with an exclusive event on the 4th of December in Johannesburg.

Two internationally recognized German brands BOSS and Meissen came together for the first time. Inspired by Meissen’s celebrated Big Five figurines, a groundbreaking new collaboration united the two brands’ shared passions for quality, design and creativity.

The Big Five collection, designed by sculptor Maximilian Hagstotz, features the African lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, each decorated with a monochrome pattern placed to emphasize the animal’s characteristic traits.

These majestic creatures, depicted in an angular style inspired by traditional African wooden sculptures, are the starting point for a unique capsule collection of BOSS Menswear and Womenswear.  The fashion capsule collection includes both casual and formal pieces for men and women, all in a monochrome palette of black and white.

To honor this special capsule and collaboration, BOSS and a local franchise partner SURTEE Group hosted an exclusive dinner just in time for the holiday season, with a special guest in attendance – the founder of Elephants for Africa organization Dr Kate Evans.

Guests, dressed in black and white, were greeted by a life-sized white Meissen elephant statue with elegant black and white canapés and black martinis awaiting them. The sophisticated evening had everything from the food, to the décor, drinks and dress code following the monochromatic theme. The charismatic Mark Bayley and former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss kept VIP guests entertained as co-hosts.

The evening culminated with a private performance by South Africa’s much loved Mi Casa. 

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