Bik Micro Finance Company Limited, a new micro finance company promising to revolutionarise the microfinance industry has marked its first anniversary with pump and pageantry.
The company held a first anniversary and awards dinner night Saturday with a renewed vigour to live up to its audacious ambition to introduce far reaching reforms in the industry.
Speaking at the dinner, the Chairman of Bik Micro Finance Company, Maxwell Addo, said the ability of the company to brave the turbulence in the industry, especially for beginners, was a clear demonstration of its resilience.
He said he was confident the company would, in the not-too-distant future, rub shoulders with the so-called big players in the industry.
The Chief Executive of the company, Mr Bright Mark Kelly, agreeing with Mr Addo on the turbulent micro finance environment, said one of the biggest challenges confronting the sector was sourcing funds for on-lending to borrowers at reasonable interest rates.
Because micro finance companies source funds from private sources which tend to carry extremely high interest rates, the companies, he said, were unable to give loans at low interest rates to businesses and individuals such that larger segments of the society can benefit.
To save the situation, Mr Kelly proposed the expansion of the operations of the Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) to make available to micro finance companies funds at low interest rates in order that they can in turn loan to the general public at lower interest rates.
That he said was the only way to manage credit facilities effectively and efficiently as well as grow the economy.
“The establishment of the Micro finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) by government is a step in the right direction since their assistance extends not only to individuals but also SMEs and the Micro finance sector. MASLCOC needs to be commended in the execution of its mandates over the years. However there is still more room for improvement. I therefore wish to call on MASLOC to step up its efforts in granting loans to MFIs, for on-lending to small and micro businesses at cheaper lending rates. This way, MFIs would be able to lend to more clients at moderate and reasonable interest rates to achieve maximum success. “This is crucial for the MFI sector to remain relevant and continue to compliment government’s effort especially in the area of reducing unemployment and poverty through empowering individuals and SMEs,” he stated.
The Chief Executive of Bik Micro Finance Company Limited, Bright Mark Kelly
Mr. Kelly also expressed frustrations at what he called the operations of illegal micro finance companies which are circumventing the rules and creating credibility problems for genuine and properly registered micro finance companies.
“It is rather unfortunate and appalling that some MFIs in the past have muddied the waters through illegal operations and unscrupulous means of defrauding clients. This has resulted in the erosion of public trust and confidence in the sector which is posing a major challenge to the operations of genuine MFIs today. Although the Bank of Ghana has taken steps to regulate, monitor and supervise the sector, there is still proliferation of Micro Finance institutions scattered all over the country with some still involved in illegal businesses. “It is against this backdrop that I appeal to the Bank of Ghana to intensify their supervision and monitoring of the sector and close down the unscrupulous and unlicensed MFIs who are still involved in illegal business and further eroding public trust in the sector. This, I believe will not only bring sanity into the sector but also make room for the smooth operation of the genuine ones,” he added.
He said Bik had invested heavily in doing the right things leading to the Bank of Ghana giving it a final license of operation in record time.
“Let me assure you, our present and prospective investors not to entertain any fears in dealing with us. Your investments are safe and secured with BIK. Those who have been with us will testify that we have never reneged on any of our promises or defaulted when it comes to fulfilling our part in payment of interests, which of course is one of the best on the market. We are a company with a long term vision, and we have come to stay. Our target is to grow into a fully fledged 21st century bank within the next 5 years,” Mr. Kelly maintained.
The Deputy Executive Secretary of the Ghana Association of Micro Finance Companies, Mr Paul Aheto commended Bik Micro Finance Company for remaining loyal to rules laid down by the association guiding the operations of micro finance institutions.
He reminded the company of the need to, at all times, keep in mind the three Cs which are key to the successful management of a micro finance business.
The first C, he said was clearly identifying the target market; “You must be able to identify the particular market you intend to serve.”
The second C, according to him, was “Capable and committed staff.” With capable and committed hands, Bik, Mr. Aheto said, could reach the highest heights.
Finally, he said, to succeed, the company must always show “Commitment to high standards and best practices and live by them to foster the confidence of the community you serve in your operations.”
Awards were given to deserving staff for their dedication to duty and commitment to the ideals of the company.