Central bank governor Yinager Dessie (PhD) (centre) shares a lighthearted moment with the founding management team of Ahadu Bank S.C., the latest addition to the banking industry. Mekonnen Semu (left), vice board chairperson; Eshetu Fantaye (second from left), president; Anteneh Sebsebie (second from right), board chairperson; and Tigabu Haileyesus, board director, appeared to be in a good disposition coming out on the other end of a two-year journey since promoters began raising equity from the public.

Ahadu Bank joined the industry with three branches, distinguished for their deep black-and-red layouts, with a plan to open 47 more by October. It has a subscribed capital of 702 million Br, with 80pc paid from around 10,000 shareholders. It plans to reach the five billion Birr minimum paid-up capital threshold in three years, as required by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). The journey to opening its doors to the public has not been without challenges. COVID-19 and political instability have made mobilising equity demanding, according to Board Chairperson Anteneh. The future promises significant challenges to Ahadu, a Ge'ez word for "one". With a slowing economy and inflation pushing real savings rates into the negative, mobilising deposits is a task of the highest order.

A major obstacle will be the shortage of finance professionals as the number of banks grows. Poaching has become standard practice, particularly to fill up senior positions. The competition for limited talent is pushing up salaries and benefits as banks attempt to one-up each other. Given the heavy reliance on physical offices for savings mobilisation, charming the skilled workforce will keep Ahadu's founding management team's nose to the grindstone.

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PUBLISHED ON Jul 17,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1159]

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