African MFIs explain how digitalisation made them more efficient

25 April 2022 Projects
Man and women using mobile banking

ADA seeks to deploy as many digital solutions in its projects as possible. However, certain partners need prior support to strengthen their Management Information System (MIS) before rolling out these digital solutions. 

The recently concluded DFI project* (Digital Finance Initiative) aimed to address this challenge by helping African microfinance institutions (MFIs) to digitalise. This enables them to increase operational efficiency, open additional distribution channels, extend their geographical reach and develop new products and services. In short, it enables them to improve their financial and social performance. Over five years, the Digital Finance Initiative supported 22 African MFIs in defining their digitalisation needs as well as in identifying and implementing appropriate solutions. 

Revenue growth in Togo despite the pandemic  

At COOPEC-SIFA in Togo, an integrated technical assistance programme co-funded with ADA not only enabled a digital but also an institutional transformation:  

Before the project, COOPEC-SIFA had a decentralised, paper-based system which required a manual consolidation of data.  

The first step was to interconnect all the databases, the second step was to consolidate data in real time, which makes it easier to follow the commercial activities of agents and to report to the central bank. A mobile collection solution for the agents was implemented as the third step. 

The fact that all customers now have their own account as part of a group, plus the greater mobility and efficiency of agents, enables COOPEC-SIFA to reach more clients. Savings jumped by 47% in 18 months following the digitalisation, which greatly reduced the refinancing needs. These impressive results were achieved despite the pandemic!  

The next steps are to connect the mobile terminals to the MIS, to digitise the credit process with tablets and to enable credit repayments via smartphone (wallet). 

Philippe Fori, General Manager of COOPEC-SIFA, explains that “Digitalisation increased our efficiency, helped us save time and improved our working conditions. Our customers now find machine-based transactions more secure, they don't want paper anymore. In the past, paper-based could last three hours per group, nowadays we are done in 45 minutes.” 

Satellite-based internet access boosts digitalisation in Burkina Faso 

Similarly, ADA helped Graine SARL in Burkina Faso to digitalise its services:  

Graine contacted ADA to change their MIS after an ADA training made them realise the weakness of their old systems.  

The new MIS enables staff to manage and supervise operations in real time, to respond to internal governance and supervisory demands and to improve the financial products. Today, operations are carried out by smartphone thanks to the direct link between the agents' phones and the new IT system. The main challenge is the lack of internet access in rural Burkina Faso so ADA helped install satellite receivers in Graine's branches.  

The next step is to equip all loan officers with a tablet to grant loans and collect repayments. At some point, Graine would also like to introduce a bank-to-wallet solution. 

Eléonore Céline Compaoré, Managing Director of Graine SARL, outlines that “The project took nine months from the selection of providers to the rollout. We now monitor activities and results in real time, which allows us to act very quickly, whereas it used to take us over 30 days to do the monthly accounting. Everyone is satisfied with the new solution. During the pandemic, we were able to telework and organised teleconferences to communicate with the branches.”