Rokel Bank Managing Director  Bags Prestigious Award


Almost three years ago, the Rokel Commercial Bank, under the guiding of the innovative Managing Director, Dr. Gilpin, introduced a revolutionary SME scheme which has impacted hundreds of young people across the country and this has not gone unnoticed by the prestigious African Leadership Magazine based in the United Kingdom.  On Saturday, 25th February 2023, the Managing Director, Dr Walton Ekundayo Gilpin became a proud recipient of the ALM SME-Friendly Bank Commendation Award at the Magazine’s 11th Persons of Year Awards held at the Intercontinental Resort, Balaclava, Mauritius.   

Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) development is certainly not a new phenomenon but recognition does not always come for those involved in it as several SME schemes have either turned out to be unsustainable or have failed to make the desired impact on beneficiaries. The Rokel Commercial Bank SME Scheme has been a fantastic exception with an unprecedented growth trajectory.

43-year-old Abu Bakarr Suma deals in cultural artifacts at the Famous Big Market in Central Freetown. Early last year, he was one among a group of 30 traders at the Big Market who benefitted from loan from the Rokel Commercial Bank SME scheme. Suma who received Le10 million as part of his own share of the loan has had an incredible business turnover since he invested the loan into more artifacts, targeting mainly tourists visiting the country. 

“Before that loan, my business was very small and I could hardly expand. After I received the loan and some business advice from Rokel Commercial Bank, my profit has increased threefold and life generally is now better for me and my family” remarked the father of three who also expressed his desire to rent a bigger shop for his growing business.   

Consistent with the Government of Sierra Leone’s Medium – Term National Development Plan (2019 -2023), the RCBank loan scheme has been tailored to target clients with little collateral mostly backed by community schemes, low interest rate, a flexible repayment plan and business development training.

The loan risk elements are significantly minimal as Beneficiaries would have to coalesce or pass-through reputable businesses with high capital inflows. These businesses or “middle men” will ensure that the bank is yanked off the burden of running after defaulting loaners. So far, this has proven to be extremely effective. In the Southern Region for example, the first set of fifty beneficiaries (commercial motorbike riders) of an SME loan were able to repay a substantial amount of the loans in just under three months, thanks to an efficient loan recovery system set up by the bank and its business partner, KAM Enterprise. 

Rokel Commercial Bank’s Managing Director, Walton Ekundayo Gilpin insists that the SME loan scheme would address the impact of the COVID -19 pandemic on small scale businesses in Sierra Leone. Gilpin himself has been widely acclaimed for turning round the fortunes of a bank that nearly became insolvent if not for recapitalization efforts by the Government of Sierra Leone in 2013. This development apparently increased government’s shareholding from 51% to 65%.

“With the Rokel Bank SME loan scheme, we are not only trying to contribute to the overall wellbeing of our country’s economy, we are essentially amplifying our drive to promote financial inclusion which has been a core component of our policy objectives since the beginning of our transformation to become the biggest financial institution in Sierra Leone and beyond.”


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