Micro-finance, viable option to mop up unmet financial needs
Accra, April 14, GNA - forty four per cent of Ghanaian adults are said to be financially excluded, that is to say that they do not use any form of financial mechanisms to manage their lives.
A large percentage of people are deprived of the requisite banking services that would fulfill their needs.
The shortfall, according to the Financial Scope 2010 report, could be attributed to the weaknesses in the banking system, which includes high lending rates, negative real deposit rates for retail deposits and lack of access to banking credit especially by small and medium scales enterprises (SME) and the informal sector.
Mr Philip Buabeng, Principal of the National Banking College, who made these assessments, said the role of microfinance companies has become an important stop-gap to supplement the business of mainstream banks and also meet the unmet financial service needs of especially the informal sector.
Mr Buabeng was delivering a keynote address on Tuesday, at the opening of an ultra-modern Head office complex of the Best Microfinance Services limited, which is a non-banking institution located in the Eagle Heights Towers, close to the Sakumono Community Hospital in the Greater Accra Region.
The Company, which had earlier on been operating from an office in Kasoa in the Central Region for the past two years, would now operate a branch at its new Head office at Sakumono, to provide services to prospective customers in the catchment area.
Mr Buabeng urged the Company to provide strong governance structures and to ensure that robust risk management systems are in place for the continuous safety and soundness of the institution.
He encouraged management to pursue stringent prudential requirements for liquidity and exposure limits, making sure there is always a liquidity buffer and support and should not lend beyond capacity.
He called for transparency and responsible pricing as well as appropriate and ethical debt collection practices, among other things, and publish regular performance benchmarks and standards to aid in self-discipline and regulation.
Mr Buabeng said inspite of the huge opportunities available Microfinance institutions faces challenges, including weak institutional capacities, weak ownership and governance, as well as financial sustainability issues.
He, therefore, commended Best Microfinance, whose leadership is made up of experienced bankers, and the fact that the company has so far been compliant in key regulatory requirements.
Reverend Edward Randolph-Koranteng, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Best Microfinance Services Limited thanked all who have supported and contributed to the good cause, saying the company's name is synonymous with best, trust, ethics and sound advice.
He said the branch is staffed by experienced professionals with vast knowledge and understanding in banking, and have innovative services to meet the demands of a burgeoning local population.
He said the Company has signed a collaboration agreement with the Roraima Group, to facilitate the roll out of an innovative Branchless banking services throughout a 430 outlets in Ghana as it positions the company as a financial hub subject to the approval of the regulator to allow customers to access on-line banking services from other financial outlets.
Rev Randolph-Koranteng said the Company has also instituted a 100 per cent cash backed guarantee investment product to all its prospective clients to mitigate the risk of losing their funds as a way help boost client's confidence as they deposit their funds with Best Microfinance.