U.S. Banker Praises RCFI Initiative

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The operations manager of the U.S. Bank National Association has commended the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Dr. J. Mills Jones, for introducing the Rural Community Finance Institutions (RCFIs) in the country.

Mr. Momodu Kemokai observed that the RCFI, the first of its kind established in the country through the economic empowerment initiated by Dr. Jones have begun showing positive impacts on the lives of rural dwellers.

“I spent one week at each of the RCFIs in rural Liberia, interacting with the staff and people of those communities they serve. And in all honesty, all that I hear is commendations and praises for the establishment of the RCFI in some of the remotest parts of the country, Mr. Kemokai recounted.

He said some politicians and opponents of the RCFI concept link the noble initiative to politics, but due to its popularity and embracing of the idea, it has created political advantage for Governor Jones should he decide to run for the presidency as it has been rumored.

“From a public policy and social change perspective, I see it differently, because RCFIs now have created an economic impact on the rural communities in line with the government’s financial inclusion policy,”

According to Mr. Kemokai, since the communities are brazenly (openly) receptive to the idea of the RCFIs, “then we should take politics out of the idea, because it is obvious that Governor Jones has shown leadership here.”

“We all must do all we can to ensure that the existing RCFIs remain operational, and new ones must be established all over Liberia. We should all contribute and champion the survival of these rural financial establishments,” he urged.

Mr. Kemokai was hired by CBL Administration as consultant through the Agriculture Cooperative Development Initiative/Volunteers in Oversees Assistance (ACDI/VOCA) to provide technical support to rural financial institutions. He is assigned to supplement the effort of the CBL to train 30 recruits to manage and operate rural banks, work with bank staff to increase the number of persons in rural communities with access to financial services as well as help increase the number of rural loans and support savings mobilization.

ACDI/VOCA is a private, international development non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C, United States with the mission to promote economic opportunities for cooperatives, enterprises and communities through the innovative application of sound business practices.

As evidenced by what the RCFIs have accomplished, according to Mr. Kemokai, the entities are conveniently and efficiently serving the rural communities in many ways where public servants no longer have to wait for a pay team from the Ministry of Finance or other banking services.

In his final report, Mr. Kemokai commended the CBL management team and staff for embracing the venture by continuing to provide technical support and oversight to the RCFIs. He thanked Afriland Bank, which is providing training, operational, and technical support to them.

He expressed the belief that Dr. Jones has proven that he understands the plights of the poor rural communities and that the way to lift them out of poverty is to give them access to financial and banking services.

Currently, RCFIs receive government employees’ salary payments for disbursement through direct deposit from the Central Bank as well as provide international and local money transfers and even pay Liberia Electricity Bill.

The U.S. banker recommended that CBL computerizes all RCFIs to ensure that the entire system is monitored where customers should be educated on the savings and logistical need for the RCFIs.

As an additional empowerment tool, Mr. Kemokai said CBL should channel some of the microfinance loans through the RCFIs and develop a savings led approach to financial inclusion rather than giving loans.

Michael Ogun, Deputy Director for Banking Regulations and Supervision of the CBL lauded Mr. Kemokai for his efforts to provide basic training to RCFI staff.
He pledged that CBL will take into serious consideration recommendations put forth by Mr. Kemokai to ensure that RCFIs’ facilities are improved.

David Parker, Chief of Party, ACDI/VOCA, expressed gratitude to CBL and Mr. Kemokai, also pledging to continuously work with them as partners to improve the lives of Liberians and their economy.

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