Posted: Tuesday 29th July 2014 at 14:06 pm

Begin with the end in Mind – Edward Effah, MD of Cal Bank inspires young entrepreneurs


A can-do attitude and a big vision to build a world class financial institution some 16 years ago is what has led to the Fidelity Group, founder and Managing Director has disclosed.

The Fidelity Group comprises: Fidelity Bank, Fidelity Capital Partners, Fidelity Equity Fund, Fidelity Asset Management, and Fidelity Asia Bank in Malaysia, which serves as a bridge between Asia and West Africa.

Speaking at ServLed Friday where a group of young entrepreneurs come together every Friday to network and be inspired through lessons of an accomplished entrepreneur, Mr. Edward Effah founder and MD of Fidelity bank, believes that Africans have what it takes to build sustainable world class businesses. 

He emphasized the need for Ghanaians to become entrepreneurs believing in themselves and realizing that opportunities are abound in Africa. Prospects in Africa for Africans far exceed opportunities in the West. He said everything is possible in Ghana and the competition though daunting, can be overtaken.

He recalled how banks like Merchant Bank, NIB and others seemed so big when he started out but today do not compare to his bank in size. Fidelity bank which is the 6th largest bank in Ghana in terms of deposits has an asset base of close to US $1Billion and has several times been adjudged the best growing bank in Ghana.

He challenged the young entrepreneurs to create the foundation on which a big and clear vision can be achieved. While there are challenges, worrying about lack of money and other resources will only distract you. A compelling and clearly articulated and formulated vision will drive everything around you. He likened building a business to building a house – if you spend a great deal of time in the planning phase, the rest becomes flawless execution.

Mr. Effah narrated how prior to opening their doors for business, he spent time visiting financial institutions in other countries especially those in the emerging markets who had achieved what he was about- to build a world class bank. He carefully studied their businesses and after critical analysis concluded that Fidelity should be built on these three pillars: People, Technology and Service.

Mr. Effah talked about the unhealthy and sometimes selfish desire of entrepreneurs to hold on to 100% of their companies which many times stifles growth. He advised the young entrepreneurs to be cautious about their choice of partners, ‘ensure you’re on the same wavelength and you have a great bond at the top for the long haul’.  

“Don’t ever be afraid to dilute your shares and offer equity to attract senior management who you believe will help you to achieve the vision. Recruit the very best and brightest, equip them and create a meritocracy so everyone knows what will be rewarded”.

In an age where technology drives almost everything, businesses have to leverage on technology to out compete their competitors. “As an entrepreneur, you always need to ask yourself how you can use technology to make the use of your product/service more convenient and comfortable for your customer”.  

On Service, Mr. Effah talked about how a satisfied customer is your best advert; he remarked on how everyone in the bank has sales responsibilities and targets so they can better understand their customers and help to create products and the right service that will delight customers. 

“It is this approach to their service that has led Fidelity to be the only bank to have deployed agency banking in a bid to waive some KYC (know your customer) requirements for financial inclusion. This has made it possible for people to open bank accounts within 5 minutes- the initiative has recorded over 200,000 accounts being opened over the last 6 months. He used this to stress the point that understanding your customers is key and the more you empower your team to be involved in customer service, the easier you can innovate.

Contrary to the thought that faith has no place in business, Mr. Effah shared lessons of how resorting to his faith many times has helped him as an entrepreneur in a very competitive space. He entreated the young entrepreneurs to go as far as they can and once they get there, God will help them see even farther.  

He told the participants not to allow fear or anyone to kill their dreams. “If l had listened to 99% of the people l spoke to prior to starting, l would have abandoned my dream – believe in your dreams!”

Asked about what his greatest fear is, Mr. Effah mentioned the lack of good leadership in any institution and used it to encourage the young entrepreneurs to strive to become leaders who are people centered, have integrity, are fair and have a purpose that benefits all stakeholders.

For more on Mr. Effahs talk and others like it, visit servled.com. If you’re an entrepreneur and would like to be part of the ServLed Friday talks, (a new revolution of young business leaders poised to build sustainable African businesses), simply email your details to: [email protected] for an invitation. Entry is FREE!

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