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Barclays interacts with SME clients in Takoradi on sound business practices



Clients doing business with Barclays Bank Ghana in Takoradi have benefitted from its Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) capacity building. The clients were taken through product education, technical support and business development opportunities.Head of SME Banking, Mrs Audrey Abakah, assured participants of the bank’s capacity and ability to support the growth of their businesses. ‘As we move into a highly digitised banking environment, we will lead and assist you make the right digital choices that will impact positively on your growth. We have a 102-year track record of being safe, trustworthy and profitable.

We are the trusted financial partner you can always rely on for the best products and services tailored to serve your best interest.’ She added ‘we are a company capable of creating opportunities, working together to help people rise- customers, clients, colleagues and society. This is a consistent expression of our brand to help signal the promise of our purpose and values to build an identity that is recognisable and clearly understood’. Mrs Grace Anim-Yeboah, Business Banking Director of Barclays noted, the Bank is committed to playing a major role in shaping the business community and helping them to grow.

This is the main reason for their continued focus on providing a platform that customers can take advantage of and access the right skills and resources to grow their businesses. ‘We are poised to meet your banking needs especially as we transition to become Absa – a strong pan African bank with deep local insights and global scale. We are ready to partner our SME clients and support them with capacity building programmes and financing, including unsecured business loans of up to GHS500,000’. Last year, the Barclays SME clinics supported more than 750 clients with various capacity building programmes. The Bank looks forward to engaging more SME clients this year.

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LN | Business

At 16, First Sky Group gives thanks to the Almighty God for tremendous Growth and Expansion …donates GH¢1m to road safety agenda



Sixteen years in the life of a company is a story worth telling. It is considered that at sixteen years old, one is now beginning life. A human being at 16 is still considered a child but getting ready for adulthood. Governments, political parties, royal families, multilateral organisations and even businesses at 16 are still seen as young and therefore still growing.

First Sky Group that officially commenced its operations in 2002 as a construction firm, First Sky Construction, today has lived to witness the birth of other subsidiaries that together form the First Sky Group.

In Ghana, the story is always different especially for a business to exist for 16 years and attain uninterrupted growth with a very bright future; such a business is seen as an icon and a trendsetter.

The reason is simple: research, globally, points that 20percent of small businesses fail in their first year, 30percent fail in their second year, 50percent fail after five years in business and 70percent fail in their 10th year in business. In Ghana, the statistics are far worse with more than 70percent of business collapsing within the first two years.

For the First Sky Group, an indigenous conglomerate that started off quietly in construction to venture into commodities, hospitality, finance, bitumen production and still counting to attain 16 years of growth and expansion into different sectors of the economy, the least it can do is appreciate God with all of its might and resources.

With a strong Christian foundation, the First Sky Group, which started humbly with First Sky Construction has over the past dozen and four years added First Sky Commodities, Volta Serene Hotel, Serene Insurance, and First Sky Bitumen Processing with others to follow in the coming years.

At a beautiful and well-coordinated thanksgiving ceremony at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), the company, led by its Executive Chairman, Eric Seddy Kutortse, and his staff of over 2,000 praised and worshiped God for the 16 years of growth and expansion and sought God’s protection and guidance for the decades ahead.

The event which was to show appreciation to God for His protection throughout the years was on the theme “For Thou oh Lord, Our Shield and Glory,” Psalm 3:3.

With song ministrations by Sax Borsah, Harmonious Chorale, Joe Mettle and the evergreen Daughters of Glorious Jesus, the gathering sang songs in praises to God and with men of God in attendance, the word of the Lord was shared with all.

The Assistant General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church Ghana, Reverend Dr Paul Dsane in a sermon titled “The troubles and triumphs of lives” stressed the need for Christians to be thankful to God for His mercies and blessings especially for Ghana.

Rev. Dr. Paul Dsane, Asst Gen. Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church Ghana

He said the safest way for one to be successful in life was to be in the will of God, adding “If God be on your side, nothing would be against you.” Rev. Dsane said God has the destiny of mankind in His hands, adding that “the Lord would make you prosper if you trust in him.”

The ceremony was in the company of the Chief of Staff, Frema Opare, who represented the President Nana Akufo-Addo; Okyehene, Osaagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II; former President Jerry John Rawlings; Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwesi Amoako-Atta; the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Ghana, Rev. Prof Paul Frimpong Manso, and several other dignitaries.

Eric’s generous heart and the zeal to please God

As a long-standing tradition of the company, Mr. Kutortse announced that the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and the Ministry of Roads and Highways will receive an amount of GH¢1million this year to significantly help curtail road accidents through education and road safety campaigns.

A year before that, at its 15th anniversary thanksgiving service, First Sky donated GH¢2million including building materials to the construction of the National Cathedral.

Frema Opare, the Chief of Staff, thanked the First Sky Group CEO for his numerous contributions to government especially the donation of GH¢2 million towards the construction of the National Cathedral. 

Ms. Frema Opare, Chief Of Staff at the FlagStaff House

“It has been a pleasure watching him work hard over the years and growing this company into what it has become today. A vibrant entity employing hundreds of young Ghanaians. Eric, I say a big ayeeko (Congratulations) to you and more grease to your shoulders.”

“You have shown that hard work and reliance on God pays. First Sky Group has been a good example of a wholly owned Ghanaian company giving back to society and contributing its widow’s mite to the well-being and growth of our nation,” Ms. Opare, said, on behalf of the President.

As though these donations are not enough, the company, which has over the years spent a total of GH¢10million to support the treatment of patients with kidney failure at the Renal Dialysis Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, plans to finance the establishment of a kidney transplant centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

“The First Sky Group is collaborating with the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to at all cost bring a team of specialists from Birmingham, UK to Ghana to carry out kidney transplants for a number of patients. These visits by the UK team will lead to the medical knowledge and skill transfer to our local surgeons in the short term.”

“In the medium term however, our goal is to finance the establishment of a kidney transplant centre at the hospital to help stem the tides of our countrymen suffering such ailment and thus spending thousands of our foreign exchange earnings to seek such health services outside the country,” Eric disclosed.

In Mr. Kutortse’s view, apart from these projects being in line with the company’s corporate social responsibilities, they are a critical component of First Sky’s objective of bringing relief to humanity, creating jobs and supporting government’s programmes and policies.

Contrary to general perception that private business men and women are only profit driven individuals who seek to enrich themselves, the Executive Chairman noted that his company is founded on sound Christian principles and operates within the laws of the country and therefore undertake projects that other companies will see as detrimental to the bottom-line.

“I say this with reverence to our Almighty God that First Sky Group, since its inception to date, has never been involved in any scandalous or corrupt practices that seek to short-change this nation. That is not to say we have not been exposed to such temptation but for the love of our nation, the fear of the Lord and our salvation has kept us away from such evil practices and we give all glory to God.”

“Four years ago, during such similar occasion I made the same statement that we have a stainless record on corruption; this attracted the attention of one of the anti-corruption agencies in Ghana, and the revenue agency which investigated my company’s activities for five years, and thanks be to God, nothing untoward was found about us. We will continue to uphold sound Christian principles in all our business ventures and operate within the laws of the Republic of Ghana,” he added.

The company, has also, in 2011, built a 50-seater well-equipped Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre for the Awate Schools in the North Dayi District of the Volta Region. Through the generosity of First Sky, many students have been offered full scholarships at various levels of education.

For instance, a full scholarship scheme is being run by the group for some underprivileged students annually at the Kpando Senior High School, the Group Executive Chairman’s alma mater.

Supporting the spread of the gospel

To assist in spreading the message of the gospel, First Sky Group, in 2011, donated a brand new Land Cruiser Prado and a pick-up truck to the Assemblies of God Church, Ghana, to facilitate its rural activities. Also, a 15-sets of musical instruments were delivered to various churches across the country.

The Group, in March, 2016, handed over 60 church buildings with a seating capacity of 450 to 650 to the Assemblies of God Church with 30 chapels each in the Eastern and Volta regions. The motive behind this CSR move was to alleviate the inconveniences of churches that held meetings under trees and in classrooms. A brand new Toyota pick-up was also presented to the Assemblies of God church to facilitate evangelism.

One will ask why the focus on the Assemblies of God church. The Executive Chairman, Eric Seddy Kutortse is a devoted Christian and the Board Chairman of the Evangelism Explosion-Ghana, a worldwide organisation that aims at spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ across nations. He is not only a deacon at the Trinity Assemblies of God Church in Tema but also a lay preacher.

The appreciations

Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong-Manso, Gen. Superintendent of the Assemblies of God- Ghana

Reverend Professor Paul Frimpong-Manso, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church couldn’t help but extend the felicitations of the General Council and the Executive Presbytery of the church to Mr. Kutortse and the entire First Sky Group for the support.

“Like many great organisations in the world, the First Sky Group had a humble beginning as a small construction outfit under the able leadership of Mr. Eric Seddy Kutortse. Today, it has grown in leaps and bounds to become a group.”

“As a high-flyer corporate entity, the First Sky Group has blazed the trail as one of the few indigenous companies in Ghana with the ability to combine industry, marketplace, and Christianity in a beautiful blend without compromising the tenets of her Christian values and convictions,” he averred.

Reverend Professor Frimpong-Manso, added that the company’s track record of hard work, dedication, attention to detail, timely completion of projects, faithfulness, and sterling performances, has brought great honour not only to the First Sky family and admirers, but also to the Assemblies of God fraternity, of which the Executive Chairman is a very committed member.

Former President Rawlings who was enthused about the company’s reverence to best practices said if all companies in Ghana could emulate First Sky Group’s example, the country would have been out of the woods. He queried the number of CEOs who could openly proclaim they were clean from corruption. “If we do away with corruption as a country, Ghana would be the best on the continent.”

“This man is truly under the protection of God. If we could go about our lives keeping it a little cleaner than we are doing and done so far, Ghana will truly be one of the finest places,” he added.

Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin

Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin commended Mr. Kutortse for his remarkable achievements over the years and urged him to keep on with the good work in the country and beyond. In a style reminiscent of a preacher man, the Okyehene noted that a man like Eric must be supported to serve as an example to the youth that it can be done and done cleanly.

“Eric said he has given his life to God and that everything he has done he has made God first. To Eric, success is working hard and providing opportunities and hope for more than 2,000 people. You do not hear that many times. He added that he had done that and done it clean and he has not engaged in any corrupt activity. He made that vow here and that is remarkable,” he noted.

The revered chief added that if as a businessman “you have made money through foul means, if you have made without working hard, in the name of God, you are not successful. If your bank account is wrapped up in the blood of the poor, you are not successful. If in going up, you have made others poorer, you are not successful.”

He noted that Denzel Washington, a celebrated Hollywood actor once said: “‘he had never seen a corpse going to its last place followed by the properties acquired.’ A lot more people are named successful and they died in dignity and their properties and toils are never remembered.”

President wants all to rally behind government’s vision

President Nana Akufo-Addo, through the Chief of Staff Frema Opare, appealed to Ghanaians to rally behind the government’s vision of building a nation free from aid. He said the dream of a Ghana Beyond Aid required the support of all Ghanaians and a change in mentality for all Ghanaians to believe that the dream is possible.

I came into office with the aim of improving the living standards of the Ghanaian people. My vision remains to build a Ghana beyond aid that is a Ghana that has dedicated itself to self-reliance, mentally to rid themselves of dependence on aid, charity and handouts.” 

“We can and we should be able to build a Ghana which looks to the use of her own resources and their proper management as a way to empower social and economic growth of our country. With the help of the church and private sector, I’m confident that we can realise this vision,” he added.

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