Competence of SME vital in creditworthiness — Rosabon CEO
How would you describe the operations of Rosabon in Nigeria so far?
I have been with the organization for close to 10 years, and in the capacity of the chief executive for about 6 to 7 years. We are a financial services advisory and intermediation firm, which started operation in 1993.
We are approaching our 25th year which is quite significant in the financial industry because it means that we have been through a lot and still remain rock sold. It is a testament to the guidance, directions and input of all those involved.
We have gone through an evolution and currently where we are is in line with our vision, which is to create the excellent, best boutique finance mediation organization in Africa. We are marching towards that and we are confident that would be the case.
How describe industry currently? would you the financial landscape
I came in from the United Kingdom about 10 years ago and that is the only time I can speak about. We have gone through the evolution of the universal banking that was put through by Professor Charles Soludo at that time with the recapitalization exercise.
Unfortunately, the technical side of that did not match with the financial capital strength that they had, so we had a situation where some of the banks had to go under, which led to the Sanusi Lamido’s intervention at that point in time.
What we are now seeing is that, there is maturity and more professionalism, and I am not just speaking about the commercial banking sector. There had been things that had been done on the Primary Mortgage Institution (PMI) side and the Micro finance bank, as well as other financial institutions of which we fall part of.
With the advancement in technology, there is greater financial inclusion. There is more that needs to be done in the aspect of Chukwuma Ochonogor, the Chief Executive Officer of Rosabon Financial Services Limited met with our reporter on the Nigerian financial sector, where he discussed how his firm has managed to keep advancing low interest loans to Small and Medium Enterprises and its planned expansion into other African countries. Excerpts: mobile money, which should bring more of the unbanked closer and hopefully be able to replicate the success that they have in places like Kenya.
All in all, I would say the financial services sector is fairly strong. I will view it as one of the rather few success stories that we have in Nigeria.
How do you manage to advance low interest rates, especially considering where the MPR is pegged?
That is where we are different from our competitors. When I say I am confident in the future of Rosabon, that is where it lies. It lies with the caliber of our team and the innovativeness of our organization.
Lending is typically an odious situation and that is because nobody likes non-performing loans (NPLs). But with the sophistication of our risk management system, we are able to really place these clients into different categories. Rather than a one size fits all, we are able to reward low risk, low repeat client with low interest rate. We are working on something that will make it even cheaper for our clients.
We are always about customer delight and customer experience, always continuously working on our processes and documentations, to make the application process as painless as possible. Leveraging on technology, data, customer feedback, on what they think, like and don’t like.
There isn’t enough credit history about people in Nigeria, what is that critical lesson for the financial space in the way Rosabon has managed to deal with the SMEs?
How I would answer this is that, imagine you are a lender, and you have given money out and it has not come back. First of all, there is that psychological trauma that sets in that makes you say ‘I am done’. However, we look at it as a challenge to be overcome. Competitive advantage comes from you being able to do what your competitors cannot do. That is where we focus ourselves and our IP (Intellectual Property).
There are still a lot of supporting that needs to be done around the credit bureaux. But unless you give people the loans, they will not have the data to put through. It is almost like how graduates go for employment and they say we want experience and they say if you don’t give me employment, how would I get experience.
You recently got into the Abuja market, how would you evaluate your reception and the prospect for the market?
We have been received very well in the Abuja market. We went into this market after calls, emails and website requests for our products and solutions. Due to that, we sent in our research team to conduct a feasibility study and they came back positive with the different target market segments that were available and viable. We took the decision to go in and so far, it has been good.
We are telling Abuja market that they now have a reliable partner. A partner that listens and wants to make life easier in terms of the services we provide, a partner that is fanatical about excellence.
We also launched our lifestyle treasury product that caters for different target markets and target segments and all the details are available on our website. We are always looking for financial solution that will match what you are and what you can, given your situation.