The First MicroFinanceBank (FMFB) just celebrated its tenth anniversary in Tajikistan.
It was formed with a strong social mandate.
A need was felt to provide financial access to the people and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) recognized that a bank would be better able to serve the people under proper regulatory supervision and with a professional approach to meeting the financial needs in this country.
– Yenten Lama, CEO of The First MicroFinanceBank, Tajiskistan
The World Folio interviews Yenten Lama, CEO of The First MicroFinanceBank, Tajiskistan
Published Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015
On South-South Knowledge Transfer
Our majority shareholder, the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM), had developed an SME portfolio and methodology in Afghanistan. We have taken over certain basic practices from this methodology and made various adaptations to suit the Tajik context as the way people and businesses function vary significantly from country to country. Amongst AKAM’s many microfinance organizations around the world we are now regarded as a leader in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) lending.
On Capability Development
Developing local talent is a major focus. Initially there was a requirement for expatriates here when we just started our bank and during the period when we introduced a more commercial orientation. Some of the skills we were looking for were not immediately available and we thus hired people from abroad. They have done a very good job but over the years we have been working on transferring skills and knowledge to develop a stronger local management. We are continuously looking at developing our staff and giving them opportunities to grow. Our trainings are considered as among the best in the country and have been appreciated by the National Bank of Tajikistan.
On People vs Profits
Our approach is long term. We feel deeply that we are not just here to make profits but we want to contribute to the economic and social well being of the country. We aim to bring the best financial products to the economy as a well respected and professionally run financial institution, a partner that helps to reach out to the people and contributes to the country’s growth.
… Of course, the availability of finance is an important aspect in any development approach in the world. But there are many other requirements to make development a success. AKDN is well placed to provide a number of those other components.
… We reach out with financial literacy workshops and other types of education for our customers. One interesting group we are working with is the Tajik diaspora in Russia. We help migrant workers there with opening accounts back in Tajikistan and support them to operate their accounts. It will take a few years for these services to contribute significantly to the bank but we believe that it is an important initiative and is very useful for the migrant workers.
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