Gambia: Interview with Bolaji Ayodele

Bolaji Ayodele

MD/CEO (Guaranty Trust Bank Gambia)

Bolaji Ayodele

Given Africa is the next destination for investment, what’s your take on that and how do you see The Gambia within the region?

Guaranty Trust Bank strongly believes in the strength of the economy of The Gambia and that has been the main reason why we have been operating in the country for over 10 years. The Bank is constantly growing in terms of size, profitability and the rest. There is easy access to the destination (The Gambia); it is just six hours away from Europe. Speaking from experience, one of the advantages of The Gambia is its port system, which is very efficient. There is no problem for any investor bringing in goods, as it does not take too long to take delivery of it compared to other African countries. This is because the port is efficiently managed. This is a good reason why a large number of people from the neighboring countries clear their goods in The Gambia and re-export them to their countries or other neighboring countries.


In terms of peace and tranquility, the country is peaceful, lovely and politically stable. How does this contribute to the business environment in The Gambia?

What is also very important is the political stability that exists here, and this assures one that if you do business, you won’t have as any problems as you could have in an unstable environment. For the international investors, the fact that you can bring in money to invest and when you are ready to repatriate your money, you are allowed to do that. This is also an encouraging tool.

Overall, in spite of the challenges all over the world, we are expecting that the economy of The Gambia will still grow by 5.8% this year due to tourism and agriculture which are the backbones of the Economy of the country.


I would like to touch on the Vision 2020 set up by the government, which seeks propel greater economic growth for The Gambia in line with the “economic superpower” goal. How do you think the Banking sector, particularly GTBank can play a role in achieving this?

There is the need to commend the regulatory body of banks in the country. The GTBank plus other 12 commercial banks in the country, one of which is an Islamic Bank, are regulated by the Central Bank of The Gambia. There are certain parameters that are put in place to ensure that Banking Sector remain strong, these parameters are monitored by the Regulatory Body. GTBank is confident that it would continue to contribute to the Economic growth of the Country under the Supervision of the Central Bank of The Gambia.

GTBank became the 1st Bank that brought VISA International Services to The Gambia and we became the ONLY Principal member of VISA international in 2009. As the economy continues to thrive through tourism and given the burden the tourists face, the Bank invested about $500,000.00 to deploy Point of Sale Terminals that are VISA Enabled  to different hotels located across the Tourism Development Area (TDA). This operates 24-hours and Seven (7) days a week.

This was done some few years back, and this year (2014), we moved a step further and introduced Master Card Services because the Bank observed that tourists carry either the Visa or MasterCard.

These are parts of what the GTBank has done to help the tourism sector grow because it is safer to use the Cards. And these as encouraged more tourists to visit the country. Because they can now have access to their Funds via the use of their cards, therefore payments for Goods and Services have now been made easier with the POS and ATM facilities deployed by the Bank, which are all VISA and MasterCard Enabled.

Also important to mention is the Bank’s latest innovation that allow our Customers to buy ‘Cash Power,’ (an electricity coupon), Mobile phone recharge credits from all our ATMs.

Therefore, the Bank is actively contributing to the growth of Electronic Payments Products in The Gambian economy.


What is the main reason that there are so many Nigerian Banks here? Also, speaking about the sector, what are the advantages and disadvantages of having such a competitive environment?

GTBank is the 1st Nigerian bank to be established in The Gambia, in 2002. It was tough and difficult back then, but because the Bank is here to stay, this encouraged Gambians and Non Gambians to establish Banking relationships with us. And with the success story of GTBank, other Nigerian banks were also encouraged to come to The Gambia.

In addition to this, the Bank has since its inception assisted in improving the Culture of Marketing in the Banking Community in The Gambia, previously banks had to wait for customers to visit the Bank for their Services, but now it’s the other way round due to the influence of GTBank.

 GTBank Nigeria’s vision is to be a global player in Africa. This is the reason why the Bank continues to grow its Subsidiaries across Africa. About two years ago, the Bank extended its Services to Cote D’Ivoire and only this year also to the East Africa region, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda respectively.

The Conducive Business Environment in The Gambia has encouraged Other Banks and others Businesses to establish offices in The Gambia.


What marketing strategies do you follow in order to attract corporate clients?

The Marketing arm of the Bank, have been divided into various segments, for proper and efficient Management of our various customers, our Marketing Segments are Corporate, Commercial, Public Sector and Retail Banking Segments.

With our different innovative Banking services, the Bank remains the first choice for many people.


Can you please share with us some figures of the company such as your position in the market, your annual turnover and number of employees?

In terms of the size, the Bank’s total Asset is over D3BN. We are the 2nd Most Profitable Bank as at end of Last Year (2013), but we continue to strive to be the Most Profitable Bank by the End of our Five Year Strategic plan.

GTBank Gambia employs over 250 people, with 17 Locations.  From these 17 Locations, GTBank has its unique Branch at Senegambia, which is in the heart of the Tourism Development Area which we call “An Electronic Branch.” We are the ONLY Bank in the Country with such a facility to cater for our Customers and Tourist who reside in that Location.


Is your bank listed on a Stock Exchange market?

Yes, Our Parent (GTBank PLC) is listed on the stock exchange in Nigeria and the UK.

GTBank Gambia is still a private company, 78% owned by GTBank PLC Nigeria, while 22% is owned by Local investors.


What have you learnt so far in your career that you are implementing today as the Managing Director of the GTBank?

A lot! I joined GTBank in 1994. So far I have spent over 20 years working with the Bank. It is a Bank were staff are passionate about what they do, it’s an organization that encourages one to set up goals for himself and also help create the environment to achieve those goals. Everyone works together as a family to actualize the Goals we have set as an Organization. The Bank’s open-door-policy is a source of inspiration to everyone.


What is the thing that you are most proud of since you took up the management of GTBank in The Gambia?

I assumed responsibility as MD/CEO of this Great Institution about a Month ago, having served as deputy to three other CEO’s, I am proud that over the years tasks assigned to me have been carried out to the best of my ability ,two of those tasks are now a great pride to the Bank, they are the Electronic Branch located at Senegambia and the acceptance of VISA and MasterCard