Empowering Entrepreneurs: Microfinance’s Role in African Development
In many developing countries, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) make up the greater percentage of the businesses, and employ most of the people in the economy; this results in a substantial contribution by SMEs to the GDP of the country. However, there remains a challenge, where many of these SMEs may be unable to access financial services given the nature and level of growth of their business, and the resources necessary to grow and scale may not be readily available from corporate commercial banks. Since the concept of Banking and access to financial services is very important to business growth, SME entrepreneurs rely on their microfinance institutions to offer services that can promote and support their businesses. The ADBanking system developed by ADFinance for Microfinance Institutions put these factors into consideration during the development phase and thus integrated tools that directly support the work of entrepreneurs by allowing them to access their banking services through mobile and web.
Initially, microfinance institutions came into the market targeting SMEs and brought solutions in which they provided loan services at more affordable rates and with less stringent requirements. As a result, many small-scale entrepreneurs have an opportunity to grow their businesses which in turn contributes to the development of the various sectors and the economy as a whole. Microfinance has established itself as a source of financial services for small-scale business owners who lack or have limited access to financial, banking, and other related services that can easily be accessed by bigger corporations that have cash flows or collateral where loans may be required. Considering the impact that microfinance institutions had on businesses, they eventually penetrated the market to the extent that the poor and socially marginalized people and households in society are now able to have access to affordable, high-quality financial products and services that include credit, loans, and fund transfers. This not only creates improved standards of living for the communities in which the microfinance institution operates but also creates an opportunity to have more people venture into small-scale income-generating activities that contribute to the development of the economy.
Offering microfinance services to these groups of people does not in any way justify poor service delivery simply because the entrepreneurs cannot access commercial local, regional, or international banking services; the poor communities that rely on microfinance do deserve quality and innovation so as to boost development further, not only at the local level but also nationally. Using the mobile banking solutions offered by the ADBanking system, customers of microfinance institutions are able to interact with their accounts and perform transactions directly from their mobile devices, this not only offers flexibility at a personal level but also facilitates the business communities to have access to their financial resources whenever needed.