Other than research frameworks, cleaning ladies hiding in the kitchen, and French people making fun of me, what else happens at an MFI in Madagascar?
Below are some of the activities that have I have been able to take part in over the last 3.5 months besides my day to day product work.
In order to become a loan officer at PAMF, you have to go through a few weeks of training! At the end of each week, all applicants have to take a test and only those who pass make it to the next week. This training is called Agence Ecole.
During the last week of training (so only the cream of the crop remained), all the departments from the head office visited the branch where the training was being held (Andoharanofotsy) to do a short presentation on the role of each department.
All the ‘agents en formation’ (agents in training) introducing themselves with their name and why they want to become loan officers.
The Andoharanofotsy branch, also called Tana 2.
It was really neat to see some (most!) of the “agents en formation” arrive at the head office to meet with HR and sign their contracts to become Loan Officers a week later!
RPD, MFI, PAMF, AKAM, AKFC.. whats MSME now!? MSME stands for Micro Small Medium Enterprise. PAMF used to divide clients into two segments – micro and SME. Micro meant loans less than 7 million Ariary (around $3000) and SME clients had loans going up to 60 million Ariary (approx. $27,000). Each segment had loan officers specializing in loans for their segment.
There has recently been an effort to cater to the clients that fit in at the lower end of SME, but still higher than micro (up to around 20 million Ar). This new segment is called MSME and the first training for MSME loan officers was held recently. These are all previous micro or SME loan officers that were trained to target this new segment.
To celebrate the first batch of trained MSME loan officers, we had a little party!
Equipe MSME with their certificates.
Obviously, this is the project that I’ve been most excited about over the last few months. PAMF has started meeting with MNOs (mobile network operators) in Madagascar to study the possibility of using mobile money technology to offer a mobile banking option to clients.
Mr. Patate is a huge marketing success – check out this TV ad: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1905606635557
According to GSMA.. His purpose was to become a conduit to create awareness and educate customers on the benefits of mobile money. It worked. Like many beloved mascots, Mr. Patate has become practically a household name in Madagascar, so much so that you can buy a handmade Mr. Patate doll at the local market.
Meeting at Airtel – the bench is shaped like a mobile phone!!!!
As part of this project, we had a meeting at CECAM, another MFI in Madagascar that has already started a partnership with an MNO to pilot a mobile banking product. I thought it was really interesting that a competitor was open to discussing their experience with working with mobile operators and the challenges they faced. Maybe there is no Mr. Slugworth of Malagasy microfinance after all.
Lastly, the other exciting thing I was able to do this past month was leave the ivory tower and start spending time at the Antsahavola branch. It was really interesting to meet with the Branch Manager and learn more about operations. I’m going to be spending more time with her and the loan officers in the coming months, so I will definitely post more about this in the future, but for now, check out some of the posters they have up in the branch.
This one explains to clients that:
1) Repayments should be made at the cashier at the branch, not given to loan officers in the field
2) Loan officers should not be accepting chickens (bribes, repayments)
3) Client documentation during the application process must be brought directly to the branch and not given to a loan officer in the field
A guy named Monsieur Dude came into the office.
Eddy and Bertrand wore the same outfit.
Eddy and this lady wore the same outfit.
That’s all for now 🙂