Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) has inaugurated a business incubation centre at Madina in the La Nkwantanang Municipality in the Greater Accra Region to support the government’s one district, one factory initiative.
Known as the UMB PPP Incubator Centre, the facility is expected to partner the government and private businesses as part of an initiative to support the government’s district industrialisation programme (DIP). The programme seeks to boost industrialisation through the creation of factories in all the 216 districts nationwide.
The bank also launched a new business centre to strengthen its service to small and medium-scale enterprises (SME) in the country.
This new business centre is located in the same building as the UMB PPP Incubator Centre and it is christened UMB Centre for Businesses. The UMB Centre for Businesses will set a new standard in the delivery of SME banking services by enhancing the competitiveness of UMB in the SME segment.
At the inauguration of the centre at Madina in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the bank, Mr John Awuah, recounted UMB’s long and proud history of developing businesses in the country.
He stated that the bank was poised to restore its leadership position as the pre-eminent financial partner for businesses in the country.
He said another centre would be opened at Kasoa in the Central Region before the end of the year, adding that in the next five years, the bank would open similar centres in other parts of the country.
“SMEs are unique and face peculiar challenges and that is why we have taken the bold step of setting up an operational infrastructure outside of our normal banking operations to cater exclusively for the needs of SMEs,” he said.
According to him, the UMB Centre for Businesses was not a UMB branch, but a cradle for developing all categories of businesses and entrepreneurs “from the woman who sells second-hand clothing to the young technology entrepreneur who has the next billion cedi idea.”
Speaking about the UMB PPP Incubator Centre, the Board Chairperson of UMB, Mrs Elizabeth Zormelo, noted that: “Although the centre was established to primarily support the one district, one factory initiative, it will also support other public private partnership (PPP) projects that are not necessarily linked to the government’s district industrialisation Initiative.”
Mrs Zormelo stated that while UMB would continue to develop and invest in its retail banking infrastructure, the bank will also build strategic partnerships that would help to deepen its position as the pre-eminent financial institution for corporates and SMEs in Ghana.
Call of duty
The Head of UMB PPP Incubator Centre, Mr Roland Akafia, said the launch of the UMB PPP Incubator Centre was a truly defining moment for the future of the Ghanaian private sector.
“We deem it a call of duty to be at the forefront of providing innovative solutions to support our entrepreneurs to start, build and sustain strong businesses that will contribute meaningfully to the development of the country,” he said.
According to him, the essence of the UMB PPP Incubator Centre is, therefore, not about advancing loans but rather to provide the resources needed to help make businesses more competent and to reduce the cost of early stage enterprise development.
Beyond that, he said, the bank wanted to strengthen the capacity and confidence of enterprises to ensure their sustainability outside of the incubator.
“As a true partner of your business, we at UMB believe in this, and we are fully committed to leveraging the services of the UMB PPP Incubator Centre to enhance the total well-being of businesses,” he added.
Lauding the PPP initiative, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, expressed the resolve of the government to create an enabling environment through various policies for the private sector to thrive.
“It is for this reason that the government has introduced programmes such as the stimulus package for distressed businesses and the ‘one district, one factory’ programme to accelerate momentum for the industrial revolution envisaged by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,” he said.
He urged all business owners and private sector organisations to visit the UMB Centre for Business and the UMB PPP Incubator Centre to develop their businesses.