A little over a decade ago, British philanthropist and investment professional, Paul Szkiler made a journey to Africa, the start of a journey that took him through the trade routes of the slavery era. This journey brought the challenge of making some tough choices, but resulted in creating something really great out of nothing, because he kept his eyes on the prize.
Shortly after the civil war, Paul travelled to Sierra Leone and met two business men. Investing the sum of $3,000, he planted two sets of seeds by offering loans of $1,500 to each of the men and left the country. He returned two years later to discover that one of these seeds, given to a pastor/business man had borne fruit. He had converted the $1,500 into micro loans that had helped some women who were involved in petty trading. They had utilized those resources and created more wealth that would ultimately result in personal transformation. The other seed however did not bear fruit, as the business man had mismanaged the resources put in his care and gone missing.
The good seed became the foundation of the establishment of A Call to Business Trading, a microfinance company set up by A Call to Business UK in 2008. The first office space at Babadorie, Lumley was a five-room structure housing simple furniture and decors.
“We were four in number, in the management team at the time,” Joe Abass, Chief Executive Officer reflected. “All of us crammed in one basic space. Now we have swivel chairs; back then we sat on wooden chairs.”
At the time Joe joined the company, Paul had marshaled resources to plant an increased investment into a vision that had no rational basis and made no business sense.
“This was an economy that was very promising but lacked the physical evidence to show for it. Apart from its rich natural endowments and resilient people, everything had crumbled from the war and the country was only just recovering all it had lost. So from an investment perspective, it made no sense to put money into this country,” Paul shared.
That investment has multiplied and today, what started with $3,000 has grown into over 3 million dollars.
“Looking at Paul and the ACTB vision, I have come to discover that one of the secrets of great people is their vision, their mental picture of their desired future. People are ultimately limited by the size and quality of their vision,” Joe expressed.
“People with vision conceive a mental picture of a desired goal and set their eyes and mind doggedly to ensure that this picture is brought to reality. That is who I have come to know Paul to be.”
“We began with US$3,000; there have been challenges, healing, restoration, discipleship and increase. Some have opposed, some have cheered, and today we are at US$3 million in assets,” noted David Kamara, Managing Director for newly rebranded ACTB Savings and Loans.
Recently, ACTB Savings and Loans received a license from the bank of Sierra Leone to function as a deposit taking financial services institution. This is the ticket to developing the set of financial services that would leave no-one, including the 75% of the population that have been labeled “un-bankable”, behind.
“Built on the ‘‘Rock’’ we are ready to fly higher. We now aim to hit $35,000,000 by July 2020. All glory to our amazing God!” exclaimed Paul Szkiler, Chairman of ACTB Group of Companies.