Micro Finance Case StudyCreditEase Micro Finance partners with Izwe Loans to support and grow
Micro Finance in Africa.
As a registered micro-financier, IZWE plays an important role within the financing community.
It provides much needed credit through electronic banking channels to salaried employees with stable monthly incomes, who would typically fit the South African Lifestyle Sector Measurements (LSM) of 5 to 10. These borrowers generally have monthly household incomes of less than ZAR 7 500 but can still significantly improve quality of life through access to non-mortgage home improvement and developmental loans.
Since its inception, the needs of the company have evolved along with the maturity of the business. Initially, IZWE sought a technology partner capable of providing much needed structure and automation along clearly defined business structures. The newly formed business was reliant on a number of proprietary processes, utilising Microsoft®-based tools such as Microsoft Excel® and Microsoft Access®, but lacked integration along the loan life cycle and was dependant on redundant manual inputs.
“As the business progressed, we needed to be able to effectively balance volumes against risk,” explains IZWE Loans Financial Director, Bruce Wolpe, “This meant we needed to enhance our methods of assessing and managing the high levels of risk associated with our business. Once a base of quality loans had been established and the business stabilised through clearly defined controls and processes, we turned our attention to growing the business firstly within South Africa and then up into Africa.”
Clearly, IZWE needed a partner that would be able and willing to go beyond just supplying a loan management system, but be able to grow along with the organisation and adapt its service offering accordingly to the changing needs of the business.
Ké Concepts, through its modular solution CreditEase, has proven to be the ideal business partner to guide IZWE along its journey. Commissioned in 2004 to deploy its CreditEase Micro Finance Edition, Ké Concepts has provided on-going consulting, integration, customisation and support services to the micro-financiers, and is currently aiding with IZWE’s expansion up into Africa.
The initial engagement involved implementation of the CreditEase Micro Finance Solution. Front Office, Back Office and Collection modules were deployed to introduce critical business processes and to standardise and regulate much of the business. Process specific workflows created a logical and easy to use system that was able to automate huge portions of the business for improved accuracy and speedy processing of transactions. A powerful rules-based design has enabled IZWE to control its risk management and comply with the numerous regulations currently governing the Financial Services Industry. The workhorse is the transaction engine, which allows IZWE to process around 100 000 transac- tions a month with high visibility and near faultless accuracy.
A data centre was also set up, on site at the IZWE Johan- nesburg branch to service the Gauteng area, and later other city centres, satellite branches and mobile units The site was scoped and designed to utilise enterprise-level virtualised technology, ensuring high availability and easy provisioning for new branches as they came on line.
Agility to better meet client needs: Since its inception in 2004, IZWE has faced a number of business challenges. These have included company-specific issues such as policy and strategy changes as well as other external, industry-related concerns, such as the introduction of the National Credit Act for example.
CreditEase MicroFinance has been instrumental in facilitating this growth: The solution has been specifically engineered for use in Africa, by a team that under- stands not only how the micro-lending market works, but also the technological limitations of the region. For example, the suite is designed to be extremely light on bandwidth, which assists with optimal operation across the South African network.
“Ké Concepts’ SaaS outsource model is currently supporting our Africa branches, which has been helpful in assisting us to keep capital investment in these experimental areas low and still maintain excellent service. We also have the flexibility to add users to the existing branches or open new branches altogether on a pay-per-user model that is low risk and extremely agile.”
A ‘cradle-to-grave’ solution: The solution provided to IZWE does not end with the loan management software. It includes a fully collaborative consulting service where knowledge and insights are shared – not just in terms of technology, but also with regards to the micro-lending environment as a whole. CreditEase draws on a wealth of expertise in these markets and is able to provide guidance on how best to react to prevailing trends.