Business News of Wednesday, 19 July 2017
Source: Patrick Paintsil & Anabella Arhin
Microfin Consult has held a four-day training programme for rural banks and microfinance companies on the use of the Microfin Budgeting and Planning Tool in Accra.
The practical training session was to familiarise participants on how they could effectively use the software to improve operational efficiency and enhance the delivery of microfinance services to their unbanked clients.
Managing Director of Microfin Consult, Ishmael Kwesi Otchere, told the B&FT in an interview: “There are a lot of inefficiencies that are transferred to the customers and it is very prudent for providers of microfinance services, especially rural banks, to adopt technology to help reduce their operational costs.
This training will improve the performance of rural banks and MFIs to provide microfinance services in a more convenient and affordable way that will help in achieving the sustainable development goals.”
The Microfin software is a spreadsheet which has been developed over the last twenty years for use by microfinance and rural banks worldwide to do effective projections of future revenues and financing needed to generate numbers.
As a planning and budgeting tool, the software enables rural banks and microfinance companies to cut down operational and technological costs, which will ultimately drive down interest rates and ensure access to cheap credit.
President and Chief Executive Officer of MFF Resources and facilitator of the four-day training, Howard Brady, shared how the software can help improve the delivery of microfinance services: “As organisations are effectively managed, Microfin can be used to help in reducing operational costs and interest rates thereby positioning microfinance firms to be more efficient in providing services to the unbanked.
It can also be used in controlling financial risks by setting estimates of expenses and looking at the actual results to see if they are in line with various projections.”
Mr. Brady added: “Microfinance is best practised when an appropriate outreach mechanism is developed and this involves taking the loans to the people who are generally unbanked.
So clients should be selected from the unbanked people and provided with services which include savings, business development, planning and other types of financial and non-financial services to allow them succeed in their businesses and lives.”
The four-day training programme hosted participants drawn from rural banks and microfinance in Ghana, Uganda, Swaziland and Cote d’Ivoire as officials of ARB Apex Bank, Vision Savings &Loans and Allied Savings & Loans—including one consultancy firm.
James Sicclo Manyatsi, a participant and Programmes Officer at the Microfinance Unit of Ministry of Finance in Swaziland, recommended and encouraged all microfinance firms to use the Microfin software to boost productivity.
He said it is quite essential and key that microfinance services providers embrace technology to achieve their core purpose.
Mr. Manyatsi told the B&FT: “Microfinance is all about making financial services accessible and affordable to people in rural communities; hence there is the need for them to leverage technology, especially the Microfin software which brings everything under one roof and makes microfinance services user-friendly.
He added: Technology costs are mostly related to MFIs but the Microfin tool can help cut cost which will then reduce the various costs that are transferred to the end-consumer.”