By Providence Emmanuel

CHIEF executives of Microfinance banks (MFBs) have projected that the performance of the subsector in 2018 will follow the trend of macroeconomic indices during the year.

Speaking in different interviews with Financial Vanguard, they expressed optimism about improved performance notwithstanding the numerous challenges confronting the subsector.

Managing Director, Supreme Microfinance Bank, Mr. Jide Aremo, stated: “I believe that we have seen the government in power doing a lot of things, but these things are not coming out. I want to believe that as these things are coming out, more money would be pumped into the economy. It would reflate the economy because salary earners would earn more and small savers would be able to do some things. Our loan portfolio would grow and the bad loan portfolio would reduce and that would be better for the industry in the economy.”

Managing Director, NPF Microfinance Bank Mr. Akin Lawal, added: “Macroeconomic indices, generally, determine where we go. If the MPR is 14 percent, inflation rate is about 17 percent and we have poor power supply and a weak purchasing power, then, the next thing to do as an institution is to know how to study and see how you can operate successfully even with all those challenges in place. You are not an island to yourself, economic indices determine how you flow.”

Lawal stated further “One thing I must say is that this economy is throwing more people into the poverty level, which means the customer base of microfinance is expanding. But then, you don’t want to lend to indigent but to people who are economically active and are ready to do something. We have hope. The hope is that Nigeria has come out of recession where more people are going into export and the non-oil export is on the increase even though it is not up to the point we expected but it is growing. With that, there is hope that we can improve on what we have done in 2017. My take is that we need to study the economic indices and see how we can operate successfully in spite of the country and its challenges.”

On his part, Managing Director, Accion Microfinance Bank, Mr. Taiwo Joda, said: “For the microfinance, we are a very strong member of the Nigerian Association of Microfinance Banks, NAMB, and we have consistently been a strong advocate of financial inclusion. It would amaze you to know that over 80 percent of eligible Nigerians are excluded. What we have done is to look at ways of making it easier for these people to open account. We are also representing the NAMB to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and other regulatory authorities to ensure that this sector is not left out of things. When we talk about people who are financially excluded, we also look at those with physical disabilities.

“For us as a bank, in the New Year, we are setting out to serve our customers better. The first thing is to multiply available channels and access through which our customers can receive services through technology. We are going to deploy a lot of technological changes so that they can be able to use their USSD code, even though we have one but we are going to make the digit easier to recall by introducing a new USSD code. All our customers would be able to do business on their internet platform, transfer and receive money wherever they are in Nigeria and outside the country because we realize that we also serve a market that go as far as China to buy products to sell here in Nigeria.

We would be giving them platform that makes it easy for them to access their fund. They don’t need to go with plenty amount of cash to do business and fall prey of hoodlums and robbers on the road. We would be focusing on geographical expansion. This year alone we would be opening 80 more branches so as to reach those that have been financially excluded from access to loan and other financial services.



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