Microfinance institutions challenged to be innovative

Micro-finance institutions have been challenged to ensure client protection and product innovation to foster sector growth and sustainability.
AMIR’s Rwema. The New Times / File
AMIR’s Rwema. The New Times / File

Micro-finance institutions have been challenged to ensure client protection and product innovation to foster sector growth and sustainability.

“As credit funders, we look forward to training and product innovation programmes that will enhance client protection and increase sector competitiveness,” Daniel Muhimuzi, the OIKO Credit country manager Rwanda, said.

OIKO Credit is a private global development financing organisation.  “This will help create potential future clients for the micro-finance industry and, hence, reduce poverty among the masses,” Muhimuzi added.

He said it is the responsibility of financial institutions to provide services that restore confidence among customers so that they can save and borrow money without any misgivings.

He noted that lack of demand-led products creates monotony and could affect the micro-finance sector negatively.


He challenged micro-finance institutions to come up with diverse products to enhance their brands.

Muhimuzi, who was speaking during the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR) annual general assembly last week, warned financial institutions against focusing on the rich at the cost of poor clients.

“Focusing on ‘healthier’ clients while neglecting the poor will not reduce poverty, which is the reason micro-finance institutions exist,” he said.   

Faustin Zihiga, the president of the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, said despite the sector’s outstanding performance, developing new strategies to cement their achievements remained a big challenge.

“We need to continue spearheading our core objectives, especially in financial education and social performance management. We also have to train our staff and board of directors to equip them with knowledge to serve clients efficiently,” Zihiga said.

According to Peter Rwema, the director of research and development at AMIR,  micro-finance institutions need  to be dynamic to thrive in the competitive financial industry.

“The bottom line is to promote best financial practices while promoting transparency in the sector,” he said.

According to the 2012 annual report on micro-finance institutions, the sector doubled its financial inclusion performance from 21 per cent in 2011 to 42 per cent in 2012. Informal inclusion increased from 39 per cent to 58 per cent with the overall financial inclusion increasing from 48 per cent in 2008 to 72 per cent in 2012.

The report also noted that the total outstanding portfolio, including Umurenge SACCOs, increased by 90 per cent from Rwf36.7b in 2010 to Rwf59.1b in 2011. Total deposits grew by 84 per cent in 2012 compared to 65 per cent in 2011.

The portfolio risk improved from 12 per cent down to 8.5 per cent.

The total number of regulated MFIs and SACCOs reduced from 502 in 2010 to 490 in 2012.

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