Mohamed Bah the dynamic Executive Director of Ecobank in Sierra Leone, a Pan African bank that helps Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the country passed away this morning in Sierra Leone from a massive coronary attack and died while driving to the beach for his usual morning jog. He was pronounced dead at the Choitram's Hospital in Freetown.
Traditional commercial banking in Sierra Leone was long dominated by conventional banks which had always imposed significant hurdles to borrowing by small and medium businesses in Sierra Leone, as they preferred lending to established businesses and individuals with significant collateral to mitigate the risks of lending in the volatile region. Ecobank bucked this trend by starting to lend especially to SMEs.
Ecobank Sierra Leone is a member of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) which was established in 1985 with a view of loosening the stranglehold that foreign commercial banks had on commercial banking in Africa. It's mission was to encourage the financial integration and and development of the continent by facilitating lending to small and medium enterprises and encouraging savings among low income individuals.
Many small and medium businesses in Sierra Leone owe their success and survival to Ecobank under the exemplary leadership of Mohamed Bah. In recent times the bank engaged in promotions aimed at encouraging lending among various sectors of the Sierra Leone society, a country in which people are usually too strapped for cash to save any of their income. This poor savings culture means that most Sierra Leoneans are just a crisis away from financial disaster.
Last year, the stellar reputation of the bank was tainted by the activities of some employees of the bank who colluded with employees of the country's National Revenue Authority (NRA) to defraud the Sierra Leone government out of millions of leones of collected revenue. The bank acted very swiftly to hand the individuals to the authorities as soon as the discrepancies were discovered. Ecobank now ranks number 5 among commercial banks in Sierra Leone.
Mohamed Bah a practicing Muslim was scheduled to be buried later today in Freetown.