Human Capital Development
The Loan Officers are the engine of the ASA model for Microfinance Operations. They assess the repayment capacity of the borrower and ensure discipline in the group. All ASA International’s MFI’s adopt the strategy to transfer knowledge to local staff and thus develop future managerial capacity for its own benefit and the benefit of the country it works in. Training of loan officers is an on-going process. Loan officers may be promoted to Branch Manager, Area manager, Regional manager, Cluster Manager or develop into specialists over time. The human capital is the crucial feature of the operations, since it deals with a direct contact with the client in its own environment.
The specificities of the model demand that operational capacity must originate from an expert of ASA. On the other hand, generic technical skills such as accountancy, legal, and human resources management are readily available in the Tanzanian market. However, the ASA operations and the success of the Model can only be delivered and assured by the presence and skills of ASA expatriate staff. In this perspective, it is crucial that ASA staff initiates the operations and trains the local staff in order to transfer knowledge. Each ASA expert in the role of technical manager is able to train 10 loan officers for the branches. After a year, a well performing loan officer could be promoted to Branch Manager. The turnover of this process takes around one year or two loan cycles.
Some of the local loan officers will be promoted to Branch Managers after 9-12 months, and become trainers themselves, initially coached by experienced ASA International staff. Therefore, each additional expatriate trainer will be able to effectively establish and train the staff of 6-8 additional branches, reaching out to approximately 8,000 low-income clients per expatriate trainer. The technical assistance provided by ASA Bangladesh during the first 3-4 years is crucial for reaching the objectives as stated above. Thereafter, the institution is expected to have sufficient internal training capacity to continue its growth without strong dependency on expatriate trainers.
The selection of Loan Officers is done through a systematic process; they are selected among graduate students in Business Administration, Social Sciences, Computer Science and Accountancy. Relevance will be given to book keeping and communication skills. It is ASA’s global policy to recruit staff (and clients) from all walks of life, religion, ethnic and gender. The initial training consists of a theoretical part taking place in the Head Office and a subsequent hands-on practical training in the field. The selection and training are always undertaken by the ASA experts in cooperation with local administrative staff. Since loan officers are locally recruited, they are inherently well acquainted with the language and culture which is an important skill in selecting and vetting clients.