The program manager of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) said recently that the institution has provided technical support to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to train staff of Rural Community Finance Institutions (RCFIs).
Mr. Patrick Yattoh said the RCFIs model is based on the assumption that the best approach to provide rural communities’ financial service is for an institution to initiate the process by creating and helping them build their financial assets and skills through savings, rather than borrowing (debt) to sustain the institution.
He made the disclosure to the Daily Observer at his Agriculture Cooperative Development International/ Volunteer in Oversea Cooperative ACDI/VOCA offices in Sinkor, Old Road where he observed that a majority of Liberia’s rural communities do not have financial institutions to serve them.
“These institutions,” he said, “generally do not have the type of financial products and services that rural residents may qualify for.”
Based on these circumstances, in January 2014, the CBL requested F2F technical assistance to help train the staff of seven RCFIs that have already been established.
He said that since CBL began the creation of RCFIs to provide rural communities financial services to promote the country’s economic growth, the F2F brought in a consultant (Momodu Kemokai) from the United States on a voluntary basis to provide additional training.
Firstly, Mr. Yattoh said the consultant conducted needs assessments and SWOT analyses intended to provide direction for future assistance to these RCFIs.
The F2F program manager disclosed that the consultant covered five RCFIs and a micro finance institution during his three months assignment, which he trained 26 persons, including 22 employees at the RCFIs (11 females and 11 males) and then 4 employees (3 females and 1 male) at the Kendei Empowerment Foundation Microfinance in risk management, bank branch operations, lending guidelines, strategic planning and customer service.
He then made recommendations to ACDI/VOCA and CBL to computerize all RCFIs and create a position of a universal RCFI officer that will provide continuous support to them.
The consultant further suggested that that person should be a team comprising of Afriland and CBL and should have a permanent office in Monrovia.
As an additional empowerment tool, CBL should channel some microfinance loans through the RCFIs and develop a savings led approach to financial inclusion rather than giving loans.
He concluded by thanking Mr. Kemokai for his knowledge and expertise in the banking industry.
He said his assignment brings to three the number of experts the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Program has fielded to support CBL’s efforts and is implemented by ACDI/VOCA.