ournalists were on Wednesday urged to
intensify their roles in consumer education and protection by providing
accurate information on financial borrowings, to enable small and
medium term borrowers to make wise and informed decisions.
Mr Ken Appenteng Mensah, a micro-finance expert from the
Support Programme for Enterprise Empowerment and Development
(SPEED Ghana), at a media orientation in Accra on consumer
education and protection, said micro financing had become a very
popular venture for most financial institutions in recent times, yet
consumers lacked basic information to help them make informed
He said since the target clients of microfinance were the poor in the
informal sector but not exclusively in the rural areas, they tended to be
transacted between unequal partners with the latter having very limited
access to information. Clients were sometimes disadvantaged, unfairly
treated and their rights abused.
He said as a result, moral arguments had been raised for
micro-finance consumer protection, which focused on the imbalance of
power between lenders and borrowers.
Mr Mensah urged the media to be instrumental in acquiring the right
kind information from financial institutions at different stages of the
borrowing and investment cycle and educate the public on such details
to prevent cheating and abuse.
The programme, which was organized by SPEED Ghana in
collaboration with Strategic Communications Africa Limited
(Stratcomm Africa), attracted journalists from both the print and
electronic as well as the wire service.
Mr Mensah said microfinance was becoming increasingly popular,
both locally and internationally, with some of the commercial banks in
Ghana getting into the business.
He said the extent of the social objectives of these businesses,
however, differed from institution to institution, adding that in some
cases the commercial objectives far more overrode the social concerns.
“Currently the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Association of
Bankers are promoting the promulgation of a Lenders and Borrowers
Act, whilst the Ministry of Trade and PSI is also looking at the
Consumers Protections Act to enhance protection measures in the
country,” he said.
In addition to these efforts, he said, SPEED Ghana had designed a
consumer protection and education campaign dubbed; the “Road
Show,” in which all stakeholders including the general public, through
the use of puppet shows, drummers, documentaries and other
education fliers and posters, provided basic financial literacy
information on micro-financing to consumers.
He said since the campaign was launched in 2007, the Road Show
had been conducted in seven of the 10 regions in Ghana-- Central,
Ashanti, Eastern, Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Brong Ahafo.
He said the next Road Show would be from February 17 to March
11 in nine rural towns and suburbs in the Greater Accra region including
Prampram, Afienya, Ashaiman, Ada, Madina, Dome, Mallam, Dodowa
and Old Ningo.
Mr Mensah said it was important that the media collaborated and
networked with financial institutions that operated micro-finance
schemes to enable them to follow their proceedings to be able to report
accurately and provide timely education to the consumers, using simple
language and terms that could be understood by all persons.