The President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment or LBDI Mr. John Davis, says despite all of the challenges facing the purely Liberian-owned commercial bank, it still remains strong and robust in its service delivery to the Liberian public.
Mr. Davis made the statement when he hosted a press conference Thursday at the LBDI head office on 9th Street in the Sinkor Monrovia suburb to kick-off its 50th or Golden Anniversary. Celebrations continue for the rest of the weekend, including indoor activities, soccer game and thanks giving service, among others.
He recalled that during the outbreak of civil war here in 1990, the bank’s premises were broken into and looted, but thanked one of his predecessor James Spring Cooper, who was then Chief Executive Officer, arranged with City Banks of the United States and relocated to Randall Street in the heart of Monrovia.
The LBDI President indicated that other challenges the bank encountered was in 1996 “Where we experienced challenge from the April 6 War; we look back at these challenges, the lesson we learnt became sustainable and we started our operation. We today have the only mortgage scheme program in the country; we did that not because we wanted to build houses, but we saw it was an important need to the Liberian people.”
He the bank remains a critical partner of the Government of Liberia as the only financial institution in the country that is involved in promoting agriculture and other sectors, adding“So today when we look at those various challenges, we sit and appreciate the dynasty brought to the table by our staff thru their tireless efforts.”
The LBDI boss disclosed plan to introduce a card service that would create access to citizens across the country. “We believe the whole process of establishing branches across the country is a process called break mortal strategy where you have to take half a million dollars to build a big branch, before start struggling to recruit employees and then you suffer from negative returns; all we want to do is branchless banking although you may not have branch within the county, but the people should have banking services – that’s why we are embarking on giving Bank Cards, once you have your Bank Card, you can present your card at any area; you don’t need to go at the bank.
You can just swap it and get what you want; so do you need to have bank in every county? we say no, that’s why we want to give every county that kind of service, because we care about our customers, and citizens, so if we don’t have a bank in a county, the people should have access to banking facilities in the country”, Mr. Davis explained.
He stressed the need to give every citizen the benefit of having banking access, saying “We are networking to ensure effectiveness of the bank, and where we don’t have a bank, we are making sure that we establish a bank there.”
He said part of the bank’s responsibility is to alleviate and put measure on the table that would benefit the people and added that in the last three years, there were serious attempts on various branches, but those that were involved did not succeed.
Speaking also, the chairman of the LBDI Board, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh,said the bank is not just a trade financing bank where people go to deposit their money, but a truly Liberia-owned bank that is involved in supporting the agriculture sector with 80% of borrower.
Minister Konneh added the bank is also making sure Liberians own homes through a housing program. The Minister disclosed LBDI will invest in digitizing medical record at the JFK hospital, and also donate 250 KVA generator to Phebe Hospital in Bong County as part of its cooperate and social responsibility to the health sector.
He narrated that in the Education sector, LBDI will build computer lab at the University of Liberia, and provide financial support to the Ministry of Education for its Spelling Bee and Meet the Challenge competitions for students across the country.
“This time around, it will not be Monrovia alone, but every county will have the opportunity to part take in these events.” At the same time Konneh assured that LBDI will continue supporting children made orphans by the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia last year besides additional contribution to Islamic institutions in the country.
By Lewis S. Teh – Edited by Jonathan Browne