New programme to enhance efficiency of MFIs

The microfinance sector has embraced a dual apprenticeship training system to boost capacity and enhance efficiency.

The system is designed to foster professionalism and enhance the quality of human resources among microfinance sector players across the country.

The training programme is a joint collaboration between Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR) and the Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance (RICEM) in partnership with the Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC).

Jean Pierre Uwizeye, AMIR’s senior programmes manager and head of capacity building and financial education said this capacity development intervention targets new recruits within the sector (as well as junior members of staff) and aims at boosting expertise in financial management matters within the microfinance sector.

The Dual System will be piloted for the next 10 months with a specific number of pilot microfinance institutions (MFIs) and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs).

Uwizeye said the project will be conducted in phases for the next 10 months, adding that each pilot institution will select one apprentice per pilot phase to benefit from the combination of theoretical and practical skills.

The Microfinance specialist curriculum, which is currently being adjusted to the Rwandan context, serves as the foundation for the rotational scheme of theoretical and on-the-job training that the selected apprentices will be undergoing during the pilot period.

A new initiative to enhance consumer protection and promote responsible financing was last year launched to further boost microfinance sector.

The second phase of the responsible finance through Local Leadership and Learning programme also seeks to promote financial transparency in the microfinance industry.

John Peter Rwema, the AMIR executive director, said the $3.9 million programme will help enhance efforts geared at strengthening governance and transparency in the sector and targets to sensitize over two million microfinance institution customers and other stakeholders about consumer protection principles.

In 2014, government opened the Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance (RICEM), to help strengthen cooperatives, entrepreneurs and microfinance institutions through education, training and business advisory services.

The idea according to sector experts was to help make microfinance more dynamic and productive.

Rwanda’s microfinance annual growth rate and total assets rose to Rwf221 billion by September 2016 representing 13.5 per cent growth.

To further boost growth, sector players through their association AMIR have been trying to develop mechanisms that will help enhance performance and reduce bad loans which currently pose a serious challenge to the industry.

It is hoped that the new dual training programme will help achieve this objective.