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Business News of Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Source: graphic.gh.com

Prof. Aryeetey prescribes antidote to microfinance challenges

A former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, has advised the Bank of Ghana to emulate countries such as Sri Lanka and Kenya in the regulation and supervision of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the country.

He said in those countries, the central bank regulated and supervised microfinance institutions through the commercial banks; something he said was worth emulating.

Prof. Aryeetey gave the advice at this year’s IFEJ-Flamingo Awards for Business and Finance Journalism in Accra at the weekend.

The award was organised by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), a grouping of journalists with interest in economics and financial reporting.

It was on the theme: “Strengthening Micro Finance Institutions to enhance the growth of rural and micro enterprises.”

Prof. Aryeetey, who was the guest speaker at the awards ceremony, observed that in countries such as Sri Lanka and Kenya, most microfinance entities were associated with a commercial bank.

“The commercial banks own them, have shares in them or have a formalised relationship with them.”

“So, the commercial banks are actively involved in the way the MFIs are governed. This means that most of the rules that the BoG introduces do not only apply to the commercial banks but translate into an innovative way to the microfinance sector as well,” he added.

He said that would make the microfinance sector more workable, since the focus of the central bank would be on the books of the commercial banks .

Should that happen, Prof. Aryeetey said any activity at the microfinance level would then reflect in the books of the commercial banks, making it easier for them to track and make the necessary changes before they degenerate into bigger challenges.

He observed that the microfinance business was a risky venture hence the need for partners, such as commercial banks, to share those risks.

"Microfinance can make a difference but it depends on how it is managed, structured and regulated,” he pointed out.

Awards

Mr Famous Kwesi Atitsogbe, formerly of Multimedia Media, was adjudged the Best Financial and Economic Journalist of the Year.

He also won the award for the Best in Tourism and Best in Microfinance/Rural Banking and SMEs reporting.

As part of his award for the overall best Financial and Economic Journalist of the Year, Mr Atitsogbe would have the opportunity to attend the World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC, USA, later in the year.

He will also receive an Ipad sponsored by the World Bank Group.

Mr Maxwell Akalaare Adombila, a journalist with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, also won the award for Best in Agribusiness reporting.

Other winners on the night included Kwabena Adu Koranteng of the New Crusading Guide - Best in Development and Extractive, Rebecca Adwoah Awuah of GBC 24 - Best Business/Manufacturing, and Adnan Adams Mohammed of Economic Times - Best in Finance.

Potential of SMEs

The President of IFEJ, Mr Lloyd Evans, urged media practitioners to highlight and promote the activities of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in order to harness their potential.

"SMEs, when well-developed, can fill the unemployment vacuum the country is currently saddled with," he added.

He announced that IFEJ would collaborate with the Africa Centre for Economic Transformation to hold a series of training programmes for its members.

The Managing Director of Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited, Mr Alhassan Andani, who chaired the event, urged journalists to be diligent in their work as a single mistake could create confusion.

He gave an assurance that banks in Ghana would be ready to partner serious microfinance institutions to help grow the sector.