I&P's quaterly newsletter, with an editorial signed by Mariam Djibo of Advans Côte d'IvoireSubmitted by Admin on Mon, 11/08/2021 - 18:20
The newsletter of the last quarter of 2021 is online! In this issue are notably included:
• An editorial signed by Mariam Djibo, Director of Advans Côte d'Ivoire (below)
• A review of the first regional workshop dedicated to train incubators in West Africa, organized by the program I&P Acceleration in Sahel
• Interview of Dr. Wisdom Amegbletor, Founder and Director of New Crystal Health Services in Ghana
Edito • Mariam Djibo
Director of Advans Côte d'Ivoire
Mariam Djibo is the director of Advans Côte d'Ivoire, the sixth African subsidiary of the international microfinance group Advans SA. Advans Côte d'Ivoire supports micro-entrepreneurs, artisans, SMEs and individuals with banking services adapted to their needs.
Prior to joining Advans, Mariam was the Vice-President of the ECP (Emerging Capital Partners) fund and led the Ivorian representation of Adenia Partners for six years.
"It is too early to speak of a "post-covid" world, but there is definitely a "post-first wave" world. Our collaboration modes, our communication tools, our business strategies, our risk assessment have been thoroughly revisited in the past few months. If the most resourceful of us could handle it in the short term, it is now about integrating these changes into our business models in a sustainable way.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, when the Ivorian government took the first health restrictions, Advans Côte d'Ivoire, as a microfinance institution, rapidly put in place mechanisms to relieve its impacted clients, which represented 80% of our customers. We implemented grace periods, restructured the loans, added capital when restarting the activity, provided free life insurance covering the Covid-19 risk, and offered 100% digital emergency loans at reduced rates for the most vulnerable clients, especially women.
18 months later, people are talking about economic recovery. But the most vulnerable have never been able to regain their pre-crisis level of activity, and some have even lost their business. Import logistics circuits are still badly disrupted (lack of containers, freight costs, transit times, etc.), the movement of people between bordering countries is prevented by the closure of land frontiers, the cost of imported raw materials needed for agricultural and industrial production has skyrocketed, and consumption is still limited by the low level of people's earnings... In this context, our role is to limit the impact of the "uncertainty of tomorrow". Beyond financial support, we are guiding entrepreneurs in the formalization of their organizations and in risk prevention through financial education, savings and insurance.
Our work has always been a field job. Our clients mainly operate in the informal sector, so they favor physical contact and have a strong cash culture. As a result, microfinance institutions, unlike banking institutions, rarely considered digital as a strategic level, until now. Microfinance institutions are now realizing that if we want to financially include as many people as possible, at a limited operational cost, we have to capitalize on digital.
Since 2014, Advans Côte d'Ivoire had developed a platform that allows clients to operate 24/7 by interfacing Advans accounts with telecom operators' e-wallets. In 2016, we had launched our first field account opening application and our first 100% digital loans for agricultural producers. The Covid crisis confirmed the accuracy of our choices and encouraged us to accelerate our digital transformation, without betraying a key value of our mission: proximity. We develop a mixed approach to optimized internal processes, efficient distribution channels and an improved customer experience: rapidity, accessibility, transparency.
The Covid crisis confirmed the accuracy of our choices and encouraged us to accelerate our digital transformation, without betraying a key value of our mission: proximity.
Financially including the most vulnerable by relying on digital requires several conditions. It means having a stable and secure IT infrastructure, it means driving change among employees and customers, it implies finding alternatives to many obstacles such as the non-interoperability between telecom networks or the lack of compliant IDs... There is still a long way to go.
In the context of the Covid-19 crisis, we've heard a lot about the resilience of African entrepreneurs. The term recurs every time there is a health or a political crisis... we celebrate the entrepreneurs’ ability to overcome difficulties and to find alternative systems. However, there is not yet a "post-Covid" world and Covid management seems to be taking hold in our lives. Entrepreneurs must therefore find models that will allow them to adapt in an agile and continuous way to external shocks: we no longer build to resist; we build to last.
Entrepreneurs must find models that will allow them to adapt in an agile and continuous way to external shocks: we no longer build to resist; we build to last.
Implementing good governance, strengthening skills, digitalizing processes, limiting environmental impact... these are all part of the "entrepreneurial revolution" ambition of the investment funds managed by I&P, which have financed more than 150 SMEs across the continent. I hope that these concrete examples will inspire even more institutions, private and public donors, to support this ongoing entrepreneurial transformation!"