The Ghana Microfinance Institutions (GHAMFIN) and Speed Ghana have launched a consumer education and protection (CEP) campaign for clients and institutions in the micro-finance sub-sector in the country.
The CEP, designed for micro-finance clients, is to safeguard the interests of consumers of micro-finance services by equipping them with all means necessary to make wise and informed decisions.
It will also educate them about their rights and responsibilities as consumers.
The consumer education program will cover financial literacy and how to acquire right information from financial institutions at different stages of the borrowing and investment cycle so that clients can take appropriate actions on matters affecting their financial health and well-being.
Communication methods like, posters, stickers, drama, road shows and others would be used to disseminate information about the campaign.
According to Dr. David Andah, Executive Secretary of GHAMFIN, “The launch is a very significant achievement for the nation's microfinance industry and begins a process towards the actual realization of the campaign's goal.”
Underlying the consumer protection measures is the ethical commitment of financial institutions to pro-client principles which cover areas like quality of service, dignified treatment of clients, truthful and transparent easy-to-understand information, and appropriate pricing.
It would also provide protection from unethical, abusive and predatory practices, and privacy of clients' personal information.
Self-regulation by industry, with the microfinance institutions adhering voluntarily to codes that promote consumer-oriented culture, removes the need for government to over-regulate the sub-sector.
The campaign to protect microfinance clients, which is being launched for the first time in the country, is a global initiative for fair and respectable treatment of financial services by financial institutions.
In this vein, extensive work on it has been done by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Small Enterprise and Education Promotion Network (SEEP).
By Patrick Baidoo