Survey to help improve MFI product packaging

The Association of Microfinance Institutions of Rwanda (AMIR) is set to conduct a national market survey aimed at improving the packaging of microfinance institutions’ products.This follows a recent call by the central bank urging MFIs to craft new products and services that suit the rural poor who are finically excluded.

The Association of Microfinance Institutions of Rwanda (AMIR) is set to conduct a national market survey aimed at improving the packaging of microfinance institutions’ products.

This follows a recent call by the central bank urging MFIs to craft new products and services that suit the rural poor who are finically excluded.

The Executive Secretary Amir, Rita Ngarambe, said that the survey will provide information that will help MFIs to develop tailored products to the rural poor.

“We will first train them on how to segment the market so as to find their niche and then we will do a market survey to see different needs of these niches,” she said, adding that MFIs are overwhelmed by differentiating customer needs in their groups (niches).

Ngarambe is optimistic that the survey will protect MFIs from losing their customers due to product duplication.

“The risk is they will lose their customers to forthcoming international institutions and local banks which have a variety of products similar to MFIs,” she said in an interview with Business Times yesterday.

Aloys Rusanganwa, an MFI consultant noted that the cost of administering small loans remains too high relative to expected income while heaviness and slowness of judicial procedures in recovering defaulted loans and enforcement of judgments relating to defaulters paints yet another gloomy picture for the sector.

Rusanganwa added that very expensive subscription services such as Rwandatel and SIMTEL for the "Online" computer network are affecting the MFIs in improving on service delivery.

On the current mobile banking that has swept the financial sector in Rwanda, Ngarambe said that two MFIs are currently doing pilot phasing and will later rollout to all other MFIs in the country.

“We have successfully included mobile money in our strategies especially the e-wallet and what we are looking at is our customers to use their phones to carry out these transactions,” Francis Ndayiziga, the Branch Banking Division leader at Urwego Opportunity said.

Financial institutions and utilities companies are currently encouraging their clients to use mobile banking to settle their bills and other related payments.

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