1. Strengthening AMIR
SBFIC fulfills its mission of professionalizing the microfinance sector in Rwanda by working closely with AMIR, the largest umbrella organization for Rwandan MFIs. Over the past decade, we have provided consultancy services and capacity building measures to support AMIR’s growth, elevate its economic efficiency and increase its attractiveness to MFIs. In addition, SBFIC supports the development of AMIR Consult Ltd. to become a profitable consulting company in the microfinance industry.
2. Coaching for Entrepreneurs and The Management Game
With the aim of developing the capacity of MFI’s clients, SBFIC collaborated with AMIR and developed a 4-days management game for microentrepreneurs, to practice the basics of the entrepreneurial journey. This alternative approach to course-based training allows to integrate participants with various levels of education. The simulation game is followed by a group coaching to the beneficiaries to refresh the learning outcomes and further develop the acquired entrepreneurial skills.
Objective of the interactive training :
• Gain basic business skills and an understanding of the factors that influence business success.
• Understand the meaning of entrepreneurial thinking and acting.
• Understand basic accounting and controlling principles and apply simple financial tools.
• Develop a better understanding of customers and acquire basic marketing know-how.
Setup of the Micro Business Game :
In this haptic board game, the players are entrepreneurs who run a small fresh juice shop. In the course of training, they form teams that have to deal with various incidents and events. They encounter opportunities for business growth but also experience challenges in their role as employers. Furthermore, they have to handle business risks and seize development opportunities. The players literally take money into their hands and move it across the board over four rounds of the game. In the process, they encounter various topics such as financial education, business management as well as investment-driven market expansion and borrowing.
3. Coaching for big MFIs
The coaching for the big MFIs is a capacity development intervention aimed at supporting the staff members of MFIs to maximize their potential and improve their performance. Overall, this will lead to the general performance improvement of MFIs. The main implementors are the branch managers and human resource managers of the institutions.
4. IT Shared Services
To enhance the efficiency of the microfinance industry, SBFIC supports its partner AMIR in the computerization of the Rwandan MFIs. The idea is to offer them an affordable shared IT service for a better information management system (IMS). The IMS would hence lower the transaction costs of the MFIs who in turn would offer better prices to their end customers and free up their human resources from daily management tasks. Eventually, the IT Shared Services will become a service provided by AMIR Consult to AMIR’s MFIs members. It will provide a centralized and affordable banking software with a potential access to channel like digital payments, ATMs and mobile money.
5. Financial Education & Savings Mobilization
On a regular basis, SBFIC team members visit schools and villages in rural areas to sensitize the local populations on the importance of savings, regardless of their income levels. During these trips, SBFIC supports the local microfinance institutions with educational materials and the conduct of the meetings with the populations.
6. Mystery Shopping
Drawing on the German mystery shopping program, SBFIC has developed a similar activity in East Africa to help MFIs recognize their deficiencies in customer care and provide them with a training to enhance the quality of their services.
7. Dual Apprenticeship system
Based on the successful German apprenticeship model, SBFIC developed and implemented a similar pilot program in partnership with AMIR and RICEM. Over the course of 10 months, 10 MFI members of AMIR participate with one of their young employees in the program. With one day at school and four days at work, the 10 apprentices benefit from a theoretical training delivered by RICEM as well as a practical training supervised by a trainer at their respective MFI.
The content of the training is in line with the daily operations of the apprentices. They learn about account types and payment services, loan management, accounting, customer care, and legal conditions related to MFIs. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with MFI managers and various microfinance experts. The modules and the final certification are certified by WDA. This project supports the development of Technical and Vacational Education and Training (TVET) institutions in Rwanda, as envisioned by the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).
8. Restructuring the Umurenge sector and establishing a Cooperative Bank
There are almost 500 independent microfinance institutions operating in Rwanda today and most of them are savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs).
Consequently, people have relatively good access to financial services everywhere in the country. Nonetheless, the quality of services is frequently not up to standard. Small institutions in rural areas in particular lack the financial and human resources required.
As a result, there are plans to merge 416 of these very small SACCOs – one of which is located in each administrative sector (Umurenge) – to form 30 larger SACCOs at district level. The scheduled mergers can generate economies of scale and make the SACCOs more professional. They also have the capacity to improve the range of services, especially for the rural population and microenterprises. The second phase of the project is dedicated to establishing a central credit institution along the lines of a clearing house. This central facility will be tasked with providing the new district SACCOs and customers with a range of favorably priced financial services the SACCOs cannot provide on their own, such as access to the national payment transaction system and digital financial services.
SBFIC has been advising and supporting the project partners since 2015 on the planning, preparation and implementation of the mergers as well as on the follow-on phase. Activities include strategic and business planning, communications with customers/members, staff and management as well as local opinion leaders, the selection of key staff members and the definition of standard processes.