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29 June 2016

Ghanaian company invests $9 mil in Chicago black bank

Bronzeville black bankIn the Pan-African spirit, Chicago Ghanaians and African Americans have welcomed a $9 million investment by a Ghanaian company into a Bronzeville black bank to save it from collapsing.

Groupe Nduom of Ghana, which operates in West Africa and the United Kingdom, invested the money into the Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan Association following a series of meetings with bank leaders and federal government officials. The bank, now known as ISF Bank, had been seeking new capital to revitalize its operations.

“This is a major step for Africans, especially Ghanaians to start businesses here in the black community, and find our niche,” Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum, the company’s president/chairman, told a town hall meeting of Ghanaians and African Americans in Chicago recently.

Ndoum, who stayed in the U.S. for several years, said the successful efforts of other immigrants should inspire Africans to work with African Americans for their mutual benefit.

“In the Jewish community, they find a way to help each other, and they have moved on. The Chinese start with little and move on, and the Koreans also come here and move on,” he noted. “So, we have this idea: What is it about African Americans, Africans, specifically Ghanaians?…. The African has talent, the African American has talent, the Ghanaian has talent; the problem is a lack of opportunity.”

He observed that there are problems in black communities, and they need to find solutions to them. Amid cheers, Ndoum declared that with the new bank and other businesses, “we will begin to have influence and support our own.” The new bank will serve African Americans, Ghanaians, and the broader community, he said.

“The ISF Bank has a national license to do business anywhere in the U.S. It is like any other bank. If you put your money in the bank, it is ensured by the FDIC up to $100,000,” he stated. According to information distributed at the meeting, retirement accounts are also insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

Rev. Dr. Isaac Paintsil, the senior pastor of the Oasis Group of Churches, who was the first Ghanaian to open an account with the new bank, was presented with an award. In his absence, Rev. Dr. Kofi Noonoo, president of the Council of Ghanaian Churches, received the award on his behalf.

Pledging support for the new bank, Ebenezer Nsiah, president of the Ghana National Council, announced that the council will withdraw $10,000 from its current bank and deposit it with the ISF Bank. The announcement was greeted with wide applause with a corresponding pledge by Papa Ndoum that the new bank will support this year’s GhanaFest.

Urging all Ghanaians to open accounts with the new bank, Nsiah said, “Our mission is to support businesses in the community, and this bank is a Ghanaian business.

“If it is successful, it will have an impact on us. This is our opportunity to give support to Ghanaian businesses to be successful in Chicago.”

Rev. Dr. Al Sampson, a long-time pastor, and activist, who attended the meeting with a group of African Americans, also expressed support for the new bank.

Tracing the history of economic and political cooperation between Africans and African Americans, he hailed the 1957 meeting in Accra between U.S. Black Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King and Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as a milestone in this direction. He indicated that new bank is a fulfillment of a dream of the two leaders to forge greater cooperation and progress for black people.

Dr. Sampson, who is president of the Economic Blueprint for Liberation and the Metro Area Black Trade Council, also recalled past efforts in Chicago for this purpose, and he called for renewed efforts to build more businesses and organizations linking black people.

In the nineties, efforts to establish the Africa American Chamber of Commerce and the Pan-African Credit Union were spearheaded by this writer, when he was the Business Editor of the Chicago Defender.

Noting these efforts, Betty Milisap, owner of Sinclair Management, said she and other businesses in the African American community welcome the new bank. Her company is involved in construction, rehab, and maintenance, and she appealed to Africans and African Americans to patronize their businesses for their mutual benefit.

The new bank’s main office is located at 4619 S. King Drive, and its Chatham office is at 8700 S. King Drive.

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