Cititrust Savings & Loans Liberia, Limited Promises to Change the Narrative of the Financial Sector in Liberia
Monrovia — Efe Valentine Emerhana, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Cititrust Savings and Loans Liberia, Limited has promised that his institution will change the narrative of the financial sector in Liberia -similar to what they have done in other African Countries.
“Our major strength is the provision of financial services. Cititrust Saving and Loans Ltd is in Liberia to impact lives and change the narrative of the financial sector in Liberia. We have unique products that will make a difference in the lives of both the banked and unbanked segment of the population,” Mr. Emerhana said.
The bank was registered as a limited liability company in Liberia on November 2, 2020. The Central Bank of Liberia issued the institution provisional license on the 28th of January 2021 and on the 11th of June, 2021; the financial institution obtained its final license to operate in Liberia as a Microfinance Institution.
Cititrust Savings and Loans Liberia Ltd is owned by a larger group CITITRUST HOLDINGS PLC, a high-performing investment holding company with a solid track record shaped over a decade with its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.
It is structured as a non-operating Holding Company and carries out its services through its various subsidiaries across 13 African Countries. It operates along with six key Strategic Business Units – Commercial Banking, Investment Banking, Wealth Management & Private Banking, Pension Management, Insurance Management, and Alternative Investments.
Speaking to journalists at the Head Office on 20 Street in Sinkor, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Cititrust Savings and Loans Ltd said they operate Savings, Current, fixed deposit accounts, and what he terms as unique loan service for their clients.
The financial institution, he says will be opening four branches subject to CBL regulatory approval. He added that once the Central Bank of Liberia approved their request, they will begin to expand their activities –across four counties before the end of the year.
Operating Low Rate
Mr. Emerhana disclosed that the institution is operating “CITI Susu” Loans. Such loan he says will target petty traders and micro-businesses. Another loan to be offered is the microloan. Again, the microloan will target the Small Medium Enterprise (SME).
“The CITI Susu Product will be given as loan at a rate of four percent as interest. In Liberia, we understand that such loans are obtained at seven percent. We will be operating a flexible interest rate determined by the Central Bank of Liberia,” he said.
Filling Unbanked Gap
Mr. Emerhana further that there is a huge gap in the economic sector of the country. He says they are determined to fill the gap by putting new measures into place.
“In Liberia, the Board of Directors and the Management team of Cititrust savings and Loans Ltd have seen that there is a huge gap between the commercial banks and the retail end of the economy, which this institution is going to make everything possible to fill and bring a new dimension in the financial sector of the country. Statistics have shown that 84 percent of people in the country are unbanked, and with these unbanked people, this is where the opportunity is, this is where we need to impact lives and so, Cititrust Savings and Loans Ltd is coming to fill that gap,” Mr. Emerhana said.
He continues: “Unbanked people are those that do not have any bank account. They may have a mobile money account but not a bank account.”
Mr. Emerhana added: “For you to serve such people, they must have an account before you can serve them –especially now that CBL is doing a financial inclusion –everyone must be recognized in the financial system of the country.”
Establishing Agency Banking
The issue of financial services especially in the rural areas is on a very low scale. The bad roads even make it impossible for people to be served. Mr. Emerhana said the institution is aware of such nightmares adding that Cititrust Savings & Loans Ltd will do everything possible to have individuals in some of the far-to reach counties to offer financial services to the people there.
“There are some counties that do not have financial services. We are trying to go there in the future. We are doing it in phases,” Mr. Emerhana said.
He added: “So, what we are trying to do is to set up what we called agency banking. Those counties that don’t have accessible road network, we will place people there with POS (point of service) machine, it means people can open accounts, deposits money, transfer and pay bills. We intend to do this in no distance-time to restore the lost confidence in the financial sector – if we can capture at least 30 to 40 percent of those unbanked, this will be an added advantage to the banking industry and the economy.”
The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Cititrust Savings & Loans Liberia, Limited said that the institution is collaborating with Lonestar Cell, Orange, and other paperless money platforms to enable people who are unbanked to access the products they are offerings.