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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bolaji Ayodele: Chief Executive Officer of GTBank Gambia

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My name is Bolaji Ayodele. I am the Chief Executive Officer of GTBank Gambia. I have been in The Gambia for nearly a decade as Deputy Managing Director under three erstwhile MDs. My work experience as a banker spans over 22 years. 


What motivated you to have spent two decades working for GTBank and half of that time in The Gambia?  

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It is always a pride to work for GTBank. The bank’s culture of excellence and its values of professionalism, integrity and superior service delivery as well as the informal but competitive environment where people call each other by their first names from entry level through to the Managing Director- no “Sirs or Madams” has been quite motivating. I will also mention the work environment built on Total Quality Management, and a thirst for excellence in everything the bank does.

It’s no gain saying that The Gambia is one of the best places to live and do business in. The people, business environment, schools and the peace and tranquility that exist here will make anybody want to stay in this country for a long time. 


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Do you miss Nigeria?

Yes and no. Yes because my family, I mean my parents and siblings and other colleagues of GTBank still reside in Nigeria. No because the love and affection that we have received in The Gambia so far have made me and my family feel at home in The Gambia.


What do you make of the business and banking environment in The Gambia?

To start with I must thank our valued customers for their loyalty over the years and The Government of the day for creating the enabling environment for banking in the country.  

Peace and political stability are key reasons that make The Gambia a good environment for business especially banking and finance. The Gambia is located only under six hours away from Europe by flight and has a very good and internal port to ease freight services into and out of the country. The Gambia’s economy despite all adverse economic activities especially the Ebola outbreak in the sub-region and the low rain fall last summer is still expected to grow. Despite the size of the economy coupled with the keen competition, the banking industry is largely liquid which is attributable to a sound financial system under the supervision of the Central Bank of The Gambia.

Also the relatively liberal economy, the ongoing Oil exploration expected to be a major contributor to GDP when completed and the readily available trainable labour suggests a good future for banking and business in The Gambia. 


Make a summary of GTBank’s achievements in The Gambia for the 13 years it has existed in this economy. 

To summarise our achievements since 2002 when we came to The Gambia will certainly be difficult. However, I will start with the awards we have received which to me are public endorsement of our superior service delivery. 

Over this period we won in 2008 and 2011 The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bank of the Year and 2011 Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation Employer of the Year Award. When the Bank of The year Award was changed to “Service Provider of The Year Award” in 2013 now including all service providers in The Gambia, we also won it. 

We champion the introduction of IT driven products and services in this market. We just launched mobile banking service. With this service all our customers with an Africell SIM card can now use their mobile phones to perform basic transaction with ease. The service is user friendly and requires no internet, credit or application and works on all mobile phones. Our internet banking platform has been enhanced by the introduction of a security device called the token. We were the first bank to deploy an online real time banking software in The Gambia.

The development of our products and services starts from the perceived needs of our customers. This has led to the introduction of NAWEC Cash Power and mobile phone credit purchase on all our ATMs. 

Let me also mention that our Dalasi denominated Visa Card is accepted worldwide in all VISA ATMs and POS Terminals. We have also enabled our 26 ATMs and 76 POS Terminals to accept both Visa and MasterCard transactions. 

The bank has without doubt become a household name in the banking sector, ranking third in balance sheet size and second in profitability in the market. 


You mentioned earlier that the government has provided the enabling environment for baking in The Gambia. How has GTBank supported Government achieve its development aspirations? 

Our bank is actively involved in supporting The Gambia achieve its development goals. Aside from fulfilling our Corporate Social Responsibility, GTBank has given financial support to all sectors of the economy in the form of short, medium to longer term financing. You may be aware that we collect tax for GRA. This has increased tax collection efficiency. We championed the first successful D100 Million 5-year Medium Term Loan Syndicate Facility for Two local GSM Networks. In those deals GTBank acted as the Mandated Lead Arranger to provide the financing in a bid to ensure that the GSM Networks were able to meet their expansion aspiration. In our role as the Mandate Lead Arranger, we put together a consortium of four banks. 

We are a key partner in tourism development. Our investments in VISA Principal Membership which makes us the only merchant acquirer issuing Point of Sale Terminals and enabling our ATMs for MasterCard transaction is testimony to this. We also co-financed construction of Coco Ocean Resort and Spa. All of these go a long on boosting tourism development in The Gambia. 


Can you Share GTBank Strategic Position within the Market?

As at 31st December 2013, GTBank Gambia became the 3rd largest bank in size with total assets of D2.79MM and second largest bank in profitability terms with a PBT of D141.47MM. The bank currently is the joint largest in terms of branch network with 17 branches, one of which is an Electronic Branch which no other bank has. Mobile banking was recently launched to add on to the bouquet of the electronic banking services already available.

GTBank has always been noted for innovation and new product development in The Gambia banking industry which coupled with efficient customer service remains the bank’s competitive advantage. 


What has the bank done as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility?

GTBank considers itself as a corporate citizen. So in our CSR, we supported many sectors of society notably in the health, education, sports, environment and arts and culture sectors. The bank has spent over GMD 13 Million over the years. For us, supporting the society to which we belong is a way of contributing to development and the maintenance of peace and security in the country. 


What should your customers look forward to while you are CEO of GTBank Gambia?

Our customers can expect more innovation and IT driven products which would be tailor made for the various cadres of the economy. 


What is your concluding comment for this interview? 

I would thank God for everything he has done for me, my family and my able team at GTBank. I would also thank the government for creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive and for sustaining the peace and tranquility that is being enjoyed in The Gambia.


Interview by Dodou Bojang


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