Marius Kokouvi is a loan officer at WAGES*, lendwithcare.org's partner microfinance institution (MFI) in Togo. Here he describes an average working day.
My name is Marius YAKOUTO Kokouvi. For 3 years, I have been responsible for saving and loans at WAGES at the Atakpamé branch, which is in central Togo. My job is to connect people living in the surrounding areas, often very remote areas, with WAGES. My day starts at 7:20 when I come into the office. After prayer, we open the agency at 7:30. The first thing I do is to check the previous day’s customer loan repayments gathered by the loan officers.
After this, I start seeing the customers that have made an appointment to talk to me. We are in a mountainous region so I travel by motorcycle.
They usually want to have information on our products, mainly savings and loans. Their questions usually refer to the criteria to establish a credit record. Between 9 and 12 am, I go out to meet customers with repayment difficulties, but I also visit potential new customers. It is important to check new customers do not have any existing loans. It is easy to know about the loans granted by the other branches of WAGES as we are interconnected but the situation is more difficult if the client has other loans with another MFI. In these cases it is important the loan officer asks sharp questions and does some investigations in collaboration with the loans officers of other MFIs.
In the afternoon, after lunch break, I am at the office working on the customers’ records, receiving and recording deposits, but also recording information from new applications, customers’ profiles and other data related to potential approval and release. I file all the information in the customers’ folders. All this information has to be ready for the board meetings chaired by the head of the agency. The most important points for us to decide whether or not a loan will be granted are the profitability analysis of the client’s business plans and the trustworthiness of the client.
From 16:00, I consult the daily log of repayments and loan officers to ensure that customers’ information is updated. If there are problems, I plan a data recovery for the following day.
At 17:00 I finalise my activities and go home. However, in order to optimise the quality of service offered to our customers, we often stay in the office working longer hours.
This is how I usually finish my workday.
Photo: One of Marius's clients – Kokou (centre), a rural farmer in the Atakpame region
CARE International provided the start-up funding for the Women and Associations for Gain both Economic and Social (WAGES) in Togo in 1994. It began as a solidarity group lending programme and a group of 20 women in the capital Lomé began a savings scheme and eventually made loans to each other out of their savings. It has steadily grown and has now become the second largest microfinance institution (MFI) in Togo and reaches more rural clients than any other microfinance provider. With 11 branches throughout the country it provides loans to more than 14,000 borrowers each year, most of them women. Typically, the loans WAGES provides are for small-scale commerce and agriculture, and livestock production. As well as offering different types of individual and group loans, WAGES also offers savings and money transfer facilities. Furthermore, it provides training to clients in areas such as business administration, credit management, marketing, accounting and even HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness. You can find out more about WAGES at http://wagestogo.org/
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