When the Federal Government gave its nod for the establishment of the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), the reasons were legion, but most important of all was the tight conditions attached to getting credit facilities by the existing development Finance institutions, including the apex bank for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) who form the larger rung of the entire businesses in the country.
In the search for who will carry this task of piloting the affairs of this newest bank to bring respite, reprieve or breathing space to the sector, lot fell on Mr. Tony Okpanachi, who incidentally, is a professional banker and strategists with experiences in treasury operations, Retail Business development and Relationship Management amongst others.
It may interest you to know one or two things said about Mr. Okpanachi when he was appointed as the Deputy Managing Director of Ecobank. His erstwhile “Oga Kapata” Thierry Tanoh, Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank stated that the role of the Deputy Managing Director for Ecobank Nigeria is a “critical one for the organization, and will help support the acceleration of the transformation of the affiliate as we work towards a leadership position in the market”.
In addition to work towards making Ecobank one of the market leaders, Mr Tanoh indirectly told Okpanachi that his brief also included enhanced efficiency that will bring about customer satisfaction as well as creating improved shareholder value across all its markets in Africa.
As if that was not enough tall order, his immediate boss, Jibril Aku, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria said the decision to appoint a Deputy Managing Director for Ecobank Nigeria is part of the bank’s strategy to compete favorably and position it as one of top three banks in Nigeria. If the above traits and qualities were germane, then the federal government’s decision to appoint him in order to leverage on his former position to bring succor to the MSMEs was no doubt a welcome development.
Already there are apprehensions as to whether the $1.3 billion (N398.45billion) start-up capital would readily meet the yearnings of the sector, but during his presentation to the press recently, Mr. Okpanachi allayed the fears of stakeholders and other concerns to the effect that the bank will finance 20,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the first year of its operation, adding that part of the strategies of the bank was to de-risk the sector by making sure that loans were provided at a longer period of 10 years with a moratorium that would enable the loans to be repaid within 12 years. What an assurance!
Mr. Okpanachi has been Deputy Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria Limited since April 2013. He served as the Managing Director at Ecobank Kenya Limited until April 28, 2013. He also served as Regional Head for East Africa, comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi within the Ecobank Group. His banking career spans 25 years with 17 of those in senior management level.
He holds the Master’s Degree In Business Administration (MBA) from Manchester Business School, Master of Science Degree from the University of Lagos and Bachelor of Science Degree from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
It is hoped that with the kind of pedigree of Mr. Okpanachi, there would soon be a new dawn in the revival of MSMEs that had hitherto yearned for growth but limited by non-access to credit due to stifling conditionalities.