The First National Bank Ghana has unveiled a GHȼ200,000 rapid response fund to support efforts by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
The fund, which is dubbed, Accelerated Support for Pandemic Intervention and Relief Effort (ASPIRE), is expected to address the critical and immediate healthcare needs of Ghanaians amid the outbreak of the pandemic.
It is Ghana’s version of the special initiative rolled out by First National Bank’s parent company, the FirstRand Group in South Africa.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the First National Bank Ghana, Mr Richard Hudson, in a statement issued by the bank on May 10, explained that the fund would help increase COVID-19 critical test and trace capacity with focus on supporting local medical innovators and entrepreneurs.
“Through ASPIRE, we are collaborating with these proven local innovators to provide the needed apparatus for testing availability, ventilators and front-line protective cover,” he said.
With GHȼ200,000 ASPIRE anchor funding, he said the bank would procure test kits with support from the FirstRand Group for delivery to primary treatment centres.
He observed that the fund would also support the setup of a six-month insurance package for selected staff at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research and fund the production of home-made hand washing machines and ventilators.
For his part, the Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs of the First National Bank Ghana, Mr Delali Dzidzienyo, in the same statement observed that the financial institution was committed to assist the government to stop the spread of the virus.
“This is just the beginning of what we believe we can do to help combat the impact of COVID-19.
"Supporting the healthcare system is where it matters most and the ASPIRE fund has been launched to help curtail the spread of the pandemic across the country,” he said.
Before the launch of ASPIRE, the First National Bank Ghana launched relief packages to help both individual and corporate customers against the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the #RealHelp initiative, the bank offered at least a two per cent interest rate cut on loans to all existing customers from April 1 this year for the tenor of all Ghana-cedi denominated loan facilities.
Customers have also been given an option to apply for repayment holidays, where a temporary moratorium will be placed on the loan repayments for up to six months.
These initiatives are aimed to give customers some leeway to reorganise their finances which may have been negatively affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.