By Amaka Agwuegbo
The Managing Director of Meridian Microfinance Bank, Mr. Innocent Ezema, has blamed lack of staff training for the poor performance of MFBs.
Pointing out that the management of microfinance banks (MFBs) must invest in training to ensure that their banks survive, Ezema noted that most fail to do so because they donâ€™t understand the microfinance concepts.
â€œFor any organisation, particularly MFBs, to survive, it must invest in training and retraining of its staff because microfinancing is a new concept in Nigeria which most of the key operators donâ€™t understand.
â€œMost of the management staff of MFBs were former staff of mega banks, so we thought that we would be doing basically the same things that we did, but we found out that both are not the same.â€
Ezema urged MFB operators to make training compulsory for all staff, stating that it is the key in turning around the sector.
â€œTraining of management and staff has no alternative and that is why the CBN is insisting that key officers in all MFBs must be certified.
â€œAt company level, we start our staff with training on the basics of microfinancing. Last year, we budgeted N500,000 for training, though we exceeded it. Personally, I went to Nnamdi Azikiwe University for a one-week course on microcredit and that has resulted in a paradigm shift in our operations because of what I learnt there.â€
Also stressing the importance of training to the development of the MFB sector, the training committee chairman, Lagos State chapter of the National Association of Microfinance Banks, Mr. Rufus Oluyole, recently pointed inadequate manpower as bane to the progress of the MFB.
Oluyole said the problems of inadequate manpower and low quality of staff in the MFB sector have made it difficult for the staff to keep their records straight.
â€œInadequate manpower in terms of quality staff affects staffâ€™s performance, making it difficult for them to keep proper records. Some of them donâ€™t know how to monitor loans, so we have situations where they give loans without proper appraisals.â€
Oluyole pointed out that in light of this, the association is organizing a capacity building workshop for directors, chairmen, managing directors and staffers of MFBs to train them on proper corporate governance, credit and marketing, bank operations, among other issues bordering on microfinancing.Oluyole emphasized that the training will be on capacity building so as to teach them manage their portfolios.
â€œThe training is not as a result of the liquidity crisis. There are so many factors that are responsible for the training, including the internal and external risk management. If people are able to comply with the regulations and they know how to monitor their bank positioning, it will go a long way in helping us. This training is hinged on capacity building so that people will know how to prepare proper returns, manage their portfolios, among others.â€