Bank celebrates 40th

Get down! is what these Bank of Marshall Islands ladies were doing while enjoying a dance on the main road in downtown Uliga outside the bank. The dance group was one of several to join the both 40th anniversary celebration. Photo: Eve Burns.

EVE BURNS

Bank of Marshall Islands proved at 40 they can party like a 16 year old. Rain and puddles did not stop BOMI from celebrating last Friday outside of the bank in Uliga.

BOMI was first established in 1982, after the Marshall Islands First Commercial Bank closed down. “40 years is not easy,” former bank President/CEO Patrick Chen told the Journal.

BOMI customers, families, friends and neighbors all came out to help BOMI celebrate despite the rain.

Leading the ceremony in an upbeat and entertaining atmosphere was Mathilda Johnson. Reverend Jeledrik Binejal of the United Church of Christ blessed the occasion.

CEO Velma Edwards welcomed all the guests who showed up at the anniversary. She also thanked all the customers who put their faith in BOMI.

“A couple of days ago I went to our vault because we keep our history there and I found one newspaper, it’s September 9, 1982 and it says Bank of Marshall Islands taking over previous bank called Marshall Islands First Commercial Bank.”

Chen said that banking in RMI was different than elsewhere, in part due to the small population.

“So many people think if you have a bank, you have a lot of deposits, because you have a lot of deposits you can make loans but here it’s not the case,” he said. “Here people make loans and make deposits,” he said.

He gave recognition to the shareholders.

“Right now Bank of Marshall has 40 years history,” Chen said. “We’re doing very well in finance banking, we are doing some other stuff through MISCo, especially the fish we purchase from the outer islands, fishermen from Laura and Laura farm,” he said. “Our goal is to help outer islands reduce poverty and increase self reliance.”

He also said that Bank of Marshall Islands is working to be a leader in the Pacific by their 50th anniversary.

After the program, numerous groups danced in the street that was blocked off to traffic. Guests enjoyed a feast of local foods that BOMI laid on for the special occasion.

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