Mr. Adetola Gbenga is the Chief Corporate Services Officer, Mutual Trust Microfinance Bank Limited. In this interview, he speaks on how the bank’s business has been able to keep up in an environment like Nigeria and other sundry issues.
Tell us about Mutual Trust Micro Finance Bank.
Mutual Trust microfinance bank Limited is a financial institution duly regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the NDIC. We set out in April 2016. We commenced business precisely on the 1st of April 2016.
Our mandate, in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s revised guidelines on microfinance banking in Nigeria, is to solve the problem of the needy through the advancement of loans and the provision of other financial services.
So far, we have been able to do well in line with meeting our mandates. Since commencing its business, the bank has grown its balance sheet size to about N16 billion Naira. Our specialty cannot be excluded from the mandate of CBN, which I already mentioned is to constantly find ways of banking the unbanked, meeting the needs of small businesses, and providing or extending microcredit to those that need it.
We have actualized the CBN mandate by expanding our reach of credit to not only the unbanked but also to personnel of the federal government civil service and personnel of the military and para-military formations of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
We offer a unique loan service that allows for convenient repayments through their salaries. We deliberately named the product Fast Cash, where we give out soft and fast credit to eligible customers as I mentioned earlier, and also to those in business. We allow them to repay conveniently through their salaries or proceeds from their business.
What is the magic that has seen the growth of the business?
First, I must say that we are very humbled. We received the news that we are ranked 4th out of 882 microfinance banks. We knew the result of hard work and commitment to our vision as a bank.
It is a milestone achievement but have we reached the target yet? Maybe not. We would continue to constantly review our strategies and ensure the entire goal in line with our vision to be the best and leading microfinance bank in Nigeria is achieved.
Tell us about the ranking.
The ranking is a welcomed development. We see it as something commendable through the hard work of our versatile management team. And the motivated human capital that we share in our establishment and our ever-supportive board of directors.
Will you consider being ranked 4th position a huge achievement?
Of course, we must recognize it. We should ask ourselves, is it where we want to be? Maybe not, but we should also know that we set out on this banking journey even when people suggested we should not do it. We started a bank in the thick of the recession. Without exaggeration, we grew from having an almost zero balance sheet to where we are now. It is an outstanding achievement, and it is something we will build on definitely to make sure we grow bigger or get better than this.
What is the bank’s target?
We will still not deviate from our vision to be the best and leading microfinance bank in any market we serve. We serve Federal civil servants, categorized private organizations, bankers, unbanked, and much more.
We aspire to be the role model microfinance bank in Nigeria. We will continue to deploy all types of machinery and resources towards achieving that.
How old is Mutual Trust Microfinance Bank?
Currently, Mutual Trust Microfinance Bank is six years old. We are happy that we are growing and this growth is something we want to keep enjoying.
The board, management, and staff are working hard to keep this organic growth, where we gradually keep pushing the balance sheet higher. In six years, we have achieved some milestones, and there is still lots of work to be done considering the vision we share as a ‘collective’ in the bank.
Where do you see Mutual Trust Microfinance Bank in 3 – 5 years?
In 3-5 years, we want to be able to grow beyond the essence of our licensing, which allows us, for now, to operate as a unit Microfinance bank.
We want to see ourselves being able to expand more towards obtaining a national license even though as we speak, we operate nationally by giving out loans to our customers in Nigeria.
The boundary existing only in Abuja does not limit us but is in line with regulations. We are allowed to operate only in Abuja for now, but in 3 years, we will be able to expand our license to a national level. We also expect to be able to continue the business of growing the balance sheet to another significant figure.
Is the bank actively involved in the financial inclusion process?
For Mutual Trust Microfinance bank, the mandate remains in line with the CBN guidelines that govern the operations of Microfinance banks in Nigeria. Part of what we are expected to do as a microfinance bank is to bridge the gap. And that is why financial inclusion is very important to us. We have taken a lot of stands in that regard. Part of that is what we are currently doing through some agency banking relationship which enables us to reach the unbanked to extend banking services to them. The use of alternative banking platforms in reaching some localities and servicing the unbanked must also be mentioned. Likewise, we’ve been able to extend loans to people to meet their financial needs. Mutual Trust Microfinance Bank would qualify to have done tremendously well in this part of our mandate by CBN. We’ve also been able to use our loans to assist certain categories of people in handling their economic needs, such as loans for agriculture/farming businesses.
Mutual Trust Microfinance bank is Known for its speed and agility in the financial industry. How were you able to achieve this and sustain it?
We don’t limit ourselves in terms of the name microfinance bank. We see our contemporaries as beyond other microfinance banks. Hence, the necessity to embed in our core values and service offerings; the attributes of speed, agility, and accuracy. These attributes form the bane of our achievements, such that whatever we set out to do in the banking space, we do it well.
What’s your take in regards to microcredit SME loans and AGRIC loans?
The stand is clear, we cannot deviate from what the regulators expect us to do with our license. And that requires we make available soft loans repayable conveniently, to people that qualify for them. If you take the time to study the revised guidelines of the CBN that govern microfinance banks’ operations in Nigeria. It requires you as a bank to extend your facilities in the direction of loans to qualified applicants for micro-businesses and as mentioned earlier, farming or agriculture businesses too. In fulfilment of this, the bank does well to disburse small-sized loans, about 2 billion Naira every month.
How have you been able to invent technology and internal grosses towards ensuring the pace of accessing loans?
If you take the time to read our vision and mission statements. I will say we pride ourselves relentlessly on seeking to exceed customer expectations through a highly motivated workforce and the use of cutting-edge technology. This would imply that we embrace all the technology platforms for rendering our banking services. We see ourselves as a full-fledged bank offering all forms of alternative banking options. An example would be the ability to receive loan applications without physical visits to the bank. Applicants around the country can have access to the approved loans in less than 10hours. And what has helped us gain a wider reach within the country cannot be anything but technology.
The investment, the time, and the commitment of the bank in ensuring that our technology is up to date is something we will not overlook.