The New Times (Kigali)

27 February 2013

Rwanda: Microfinance Workers Acquire Market Research Skills

Financial institutions staff are being trained in market personel research to enable them develop appropriate products that suits society needs. The move is aimed at creating a more proactive approach in responding to market needs, according to the organisers of the training.

"The training aims at developing trainers in market research who can use the skills acquired to make their institutions more client-responsive to, particularly, rural and low-income customers," said Waringa Kibe, the US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Ejo Heza programme rural finance and marketing officer.

The two-week training has attracted about 28 senior and middle managers from microfinance institutions, banks, SACCOs and financial consultants across the country.

It is supported by CHF International, the USAID Ejo Heza programme, and the participating financial institutions. The programme supports government efforts towards a more inclusive financial sector.

The training is being conducted by the MicroSave Consulting.

"We realised that there is a challenge among rural communities, where it is difficult for people to access products that meet their needs," she noted.

"We saw this gap and decided to train the practitioners in market research so that they acquire skills to develop products that are relevant to clients."

"The training will equip us with skills that will help bridge the existing gap between financial institutions and clients," said Marcel Ruhurambuga, one of the trainees from Mutanguha MFI in Nyamirambo.

Odera Mukayiranga, the micro-banking manager at Kenya Commercial Bank and one of the trainees, said, "While we are developing products for the rural market, we don't have a report on the market needs, which is a challenge to us."

"The training will enable us develop appropriate products for our clients."

Elizabeth Kariuki, an analyst with MicroSave and one of the trainers, said the exercise would equip with financial institutions' staff with skills to help develop a more inclusive and holistic financial service sector.

Rwanda has experienced continued growth in the financial sector, with the number of new financial institutions going up in the past few years.

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