Skills gap hinders growth of micro-finance: Report

Lack of expertise is constraining performance of micro-finance service providers, according to the Association of Micro-finance Institutions in Rwanda (Amir) 2012 annual report.
A customer seeks service from a micro-finance institution. The New Times/ File.
A customer seeks service from a micro-finance institution. The New Times/ File.

Lack of expertise is constraining performance of micro-finance service providers, according to the Association of Micro-finance Institutions in Rwanda (Amir) 2012 annual report.

The micro-finance outlook report indicated that most of the MFIs have low capacity to operate professionally and sustainably, which is frustrating their ability to extend financial services to the rural people.

The report also singled out limited use of management information systems and other ICT tools, as well as insufficient MFI refinancing mechanisms as the other challenges hindering MFIs performance across country.

“The tremendous growth of the micro-finance sector calls for the right skills to deal with this robust expansion. Unfortunately, there is a huge skills gap and other institutions cannot afford to recruit personnel to man critical areas because they lack funds,” the report indicated.

It said most have an unfilfilled need for cashiers, clerks, and loan officers with basic financial training.

“Presently, there is also insufficient professionally trained management and lack of capacity at the governance level,” Peter Rwema, the director of research and development at Amir, said.

He also added that the challenges were not only for micro-finance sector but rather national challenges affecting the entire financial sector.

“Most of financial institutions are caught up between the realities of lack of capacity to support credit product development diversification and innovations because of limited technical knowhow,” he noted.

Alphonse Munyeshyaka, senior analyst at Amire, said though transparency, especially on reporting systems, has improved since 2012, it is still a challenge that must be addressed.

Saccos that were using outdated technology have since adopted the CGAP management tools, which is good news for the sector, he said.

Faustin Zihiga, the president of Amir, said MFIs were working with Ministry of Trade and Industry and Private Sector Federation to establish a core framework on how to deal with challenges in the sector.

The sector is working with INES University to come up with a master’s programme in micro-finance training to bridge the skills gap.

“We believe that working with some of the local universities to provide micro-finance management training will help bridge the gaps,” he said.

The 2012 annual report on micro-finance institutions’ economic performance also said the sector’s financial inclusion doubled from 21 per cent in 2011 to 42 per cent, while informal inclusion increased from 39 per cent to 58 per cent. The overall financial inclusion increased from 48 per cent in 2008 to 72 per cent in 2012.

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