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Business News of Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Source: B&FT

Union Savings MD inspires varsity students

Managing Director of Union Savings and Loans Limited, Philip Oti-Mensah, has urged students of Pentecost University College to combine entrepreneurial skills and academic pursuit.

He was speaking at the Informative Tertiary Train (ITT) summit, an annual programme organised by Vipz Consult to provide in-depth information to tertiary students and help bridge the tertiary-corporate institutions gap.

Mr. Oti-Mensah treated the broad topic of leadership skills: the requisites of a good leader and focus on strategic thinking skills; organising skills; critical thinking and innovation; and self-motivation skills.

He advised the students to undertake internships; start businesses in school; and explore other non-academic areas so that upon graduation they will be better-equipped for industry.

“I think young people should focus on academic work; but at the same time they should do their best to engage the world and build a great array of networks that will be beneficial to them as soon as they are out of school,” he said.

He also urged them to be determined and follow their passion in their future endeavours. “You can listen to different opinions, but always have a vision to drive your business because history tells us that only a few Ghanaian businesses are able to survive beyond two decades. This means, fundamentally, something is wrong. So if you want to change the system, then you should be ready to do things differently.”

He pointed out that what new entrepreneurs must do to stand out includes “being clear about your target group; supporting that target group; and serving them for long periods”.

Citing Union Savings and Loans as an example, he stated that many financial institutions started as SME-focused institutions -- but after a few years they were and are still enjoying corporate banking because that is very easy to do.

“At Union our main focus is SME banking, and that is what we are still doing after all these years. We have the best people in place to support our agenda. We constantly train SME executives at our monthly Union SME Clinic, and we have very simple products and services for them.”

Conceding that SME banking is a risky venture, Mr. Mensah nonetheless said these institutions account for more than 50 percent of this country’s GDP, therefore they need the support and Union is ready to support them. “Our purpose as an institution is to grow communities.”

He urged business leaders to bring the best out of their workers, especially those coming straight from school. “Focusing on their unique talents brings the best out of them, and giving them the tools they need will make these fresh graduates the best leaders of tomorrow.