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Business News of Thursday, 26 November 2015

Source: GNA

GHAMFIN holds general meeting

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The Ghana Microfinance Institution Network (GHAMFIN), on Tuesday held its 7th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and presentation of the 2014 annual report in Accra.

The AGM was on the theme: “The next step towards transparency: implementation and monitoring of the unified Code of Conduct”

Mr Ernest Senyo Dzandu, Owner CDC Consult, said microfinance worldwide thrives on some core values including integrity toward the low income clients, quality of service transparency, fair practices towards client, privacy of client information, feedback and grievances handling or redress mechanism.

He said implementing code of conducts and its role in transparency in the microfinance industry has become more critical in the face of the challenges that the industry has experienced in recent years.

He said a code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the social norms and responsibilities of, or proper practices for an individual, party or organization, and provides guidance and support to individuals for decision making and carrying out activities that are compatible with the associations’ values.

Mr Dzandu said it is important to note that Microfinance institutions irrespective of their legal firms and tiers exist to among other things create social benefits and promote financial inclusion irrespective of whether they are for profit or not.

“There are concerns that microfinance institutions are defrauding poor and vulnerable clients and many are asking of the action the regulator is taking to address them”

He said the challenges that the industry was experiencing goes beyond the regulators as they alone cannot provide support to address the issues, but self-regulations becomes a very relevant mechanism for addressing the challenges.

“The GHAMFIN, as the umbrella body, established code of conduct which makes provision for integrity and ethical behaviour, transparency, client protection, governance, client education, and financial literacy, data sharing, feedback and grievance redress mechanism and fair practices towards employees”, he noted.

He said the adoption of a wide code of conduct would help protect the reputation of all stakeholders in the sector, bring uniformity and consistency and ensure application of the guidelines.

Mr Dzandu said in implementing the industry wide code of conduct, communication and awareness campaign, structuring and funding, training and re-enforcement and monitoring and accountability are key things.

He said “authority and accountability, government support and recognition, sufficient funding, consistency, avoiding conflicts and interest are factors that have been identified as key to success in effective self-regulation and by extension implementation.”

He said in implementing and monitoring the industry wide code of conduct, there were some challenges such as resource intensiveness and objectivity of members that need to be addressed.

He said there was the need for donor support and continuous payment of dues by members to aid the implementation and monitoring. Members also need to be objective and adopt the industry code as well as implement it within their various associations.

GHAMFIN is a network of Apex Associations and their member institutions engage in the provision of microfinance services. GHAMFIN has associates and honorary members who provide support services to the industry.

The network comprises diverse range of microfinance sector actors including Microfinance Apex bodies such as the ARB/ARB Apex Bank Limited, Association of Financial NGO’s (ASSFIN), and Ghana Cooperative Credit Unions Associations (CUA).

Others include Ghana Cooperative Susu (Savings Collectors Association (GCSCA), Ghana Association of Savings and Loans (GHASALC), Ghana Association of Microfinance Companies (GAMC) and Money Lenders Association of Ghana (MLAG). The other actors are Business Development and Technical Service Providers.