The microfinance sector in this country has had some challenges in recent times, which have greatly diminished public confidence in the sector.
A number of microfinance companies have been involved in scandals with some still struggling to reimburse their aggrieved customers.
Despite these occurrences, the importance of the sector cannot be overlooked as it provides vital assistance to small businesses and people who do not have access to credit and other forms of financial services from the conventional commercial banking system.
Such services, according to the Managing Director of Capital and More (C&M) Microfinance, Mrs Akosua Oduma Oppong-Tawiah, help bridge the gap between the served and the underserved.
“Being in this industry gives us the opportunity to deal directly with those who really need financial help but do not have any collateral or permanent jobs. Our clients include bread sellers, head porters, taxi drivers and several other small business owners who need very little financial support to transform their businesses.
Mrs Akosua Oduma Oppong-Tawiah
“People sometimes walk in here and have no idea about how to access credit from a bank. They have no identification cards, cannot tell you their addresses and do not even know their phone numbers. For such people, we help them get some sort of identification, follow them to their homes to get the right addresses before we start the process of helping them,” she noted.
Some of those people, she explained, sometimes did not even need credit facilities but rather appropriate advice and guidelines to help them save money. It is for reasons such as this and more that she believes the microfinance industry, despite its challenges, must be supported.
Capital and More Microfinance
C&M Microfinance is a wholly-owned Ghanaian savings and loans company, duly licensed by the Bank of Ghana (Licence Certificate No. 000170) to operate as a non-bank financial institution regulated under the Banking Act, 2004 (ACT 673).
Focusing mainly on the informal sector and the unbanked population, the company deals with businesses that have a quick turnover and “see money frequently”.
Over the last five years, the company has grown a clientele of over 7,000 with branches at Tema and Weija aside from its head office located at Ring Road Central in Accra.
According to Mrs Oppong-Tawiah, the company sees its customers as its lifeline as, without them, it would be out of business.
“I tell every staff member we employ that it is not the company that pays their salaries but rather the customers. So every customer, irrespective of how little his business or money is, must be treated with utmost respect and courtesy,” she explained.
Mrs Oppong-Tawiah (second right) with some award winners after the US-Africa International Gold Award of Excellence event held in the United States of America, recently
She believes the special attention given to customers is paying off as more of them keep coming by the day.
“We do not spend huge amounts of money on adverts or other forms of publicity; we depend mainly on referrals or word of mouth from our existing customers. To get good referrals from your customers, you must go beyond the normal and make a difference.”
She believes that excellent customer service, coupled with tailor-made services and products, can help rewrite the microfinance story and regain the trust of customers who may have had terrible experiences in the past.
Aside from providing credit facilities, the company also runs different tailor-made savings accounts such as the Capital Kids Account and the Capital Gold Box. These savings options are to enable customers to save little amounts of money.
The Capital Gold Box, for instance, takes the form of the traditional susu box where monies saved monthly are invested with competitive monthly interests, while the Kids Account is to enable parents and would-be ones to prepare for the future of their children.
The company also holds occasional financial literacy seminars for the general public to educate them on financial management.
The company believes in team work
Mrs Oppong-Tawiah has built an extensive experience in the financial industry spanning the areas of Banking, Finance and Advisory services, Micro and Inclusive Banking Strategy, Retail and Corporate Business Marketing and Customer Service Excellence.
Prior to joining C&M, she worked with Ecobank, Eisch Insurance and Access Bank.
Within two years of joining the company, the company’s customer base has moved from 2,000 to 5,000, an improvement she attributes to her focus on placing the customer first. She has also been able to increase the company’s assets value from $1,000,000 to $1,800,000.
Last year, she won the Female Personality of the year (Microfinance Category) award at the National Women in Banking and Financial Awards.
The company was also adjudged the Outstanding SME In Africa at the US-Africa International Gold Award of Excellence event held recently in the United States of America.
According to her, the recognition and achievements encourage her to work harder and attain greater heights.
“In the next three years, I want Capital and More to be a world-class microfinance institution with presence in all of Africa and beyond. I am hopeful that with hard work and a dedicated team of qualified people, we can only get better.”
Mrs Oppong-Tawiah holds an MBA in Finance from the Leicester Business School in the United Kingdom, BA Hons - Economics from the University of Ghana, Legon, Diploma in Financial Management- ICM (UK) and an Applied Insurance Diploma - Legal Environment from the Ghana National Insurance College.
She is married with two children.