Woke up this morning to the sound of chanting there is a prayer site close by and I heard them real clearly, it was interesting to listen to. After breakfast we walked down to Fincoop to start our day. We met with the General Manager Anthony Ngwira who has been with Fincoop almost since it started in 2004. He started as Manger under a contract from MUSCCO in 2006 and was hired full time as Manager in 2009. The Sacco has grown from 323 members as of December 2004 to 29,315 members as of December 2009. Their assets have grown from MK 7,189,000 in 2004 to MK 770,291,000, that is rapid growth and it has propelled them to the status of the largest SACCO in Malawi. Their best growth years were from 2006 to 2007 when their membership went from 5,217 to 11,028 and from 2007 to 2008 when their membership grew from 11,028 to 23,354.
Fincoop has a good mix of members with 17,723 being male, 10,180 being female and 1,412 being groups or businesses. They have made an effort to attract women members over the last two years and their efforts have paid off since the female members have grown from 3,531 in 2007 to 10,180 December 2009. They have adopted an innovative approach as they now have 4 mobile banking units that travel to the rural areas of the country to provide loan and deposit services. The units are crew cab trucks with secure caps on the truck bed; there is also a safe in the cap for the money. The truck travels with a Police escort and they have an arrangement with one of the banks to store the money overnight if they are staying out in the country. With this means of service they are reaching 95 mobile branch centres over and above their four branches.
The four branches are located in Mzuzu, Blantyre, in Lilongwe there are two branches one in Kawale Market and the head office on Mandala Road where we are spending the majority of our time.
We broke for lunch and walked to MacDouds where we found sanctuary from the rain yesterday and ordered a Hawaiian pizza which we had a choice of chicken of beef as a topping we chose chicken. The pizza was tasty though and since we split one between us it was the first meal since we got here that I didn't over eat. When we returned to the SACCO we met with Blessings Kam'mambala the Finance and Administration Manager for the afternoon.
Fincoop's Internal Auditor Andrew
When work was done we decided to brave the markets. If anyone has been reading the banking in Africa blog by my colleague Robert then you will know that it is a test of wills. This year when we got over there they seem to be a little more aggressive than last year I was not going to buy anything since we would be here until Sunday but I gave the merchant a low ball price on some items and he accepted the price. So the next merchant had the same item and I went down a little more than the last merchant and he accepted that price as well. Now I am out of Kwacha and everyone is after me to buy from them so I had to make a break for it and return to the hotel.
Bruce was already back there since he baled on the market as soon as he found the merchant who he bought from last year that brought his inventory to the hotel. When I got back Bruce and the merchant were sitting in the restaurant dealing on some items, so I dropped my stuff in my room, picked up some more Kwacha and joined them. It was fun to watch and in the end they made a deal, he still had some items left over so with the price already set it was easy to make a deal with him as well. This is a more productive way of doing business but does not give you the adrenaline rush the markets do.
For supper we went to the Chinese Place across the street from the hotel, Bruce ordered two dishes and I ordered two dishes one of mine was the pork spare ribs that looked good in the menu. Bruce warned me that the pork was not good here based on last year's experience; I thought they had a year to fix it they should get it right this time around. Sure enough the ribs were not good all gristle no meat, Bruce then said I told you so and I have to admit he did but nothing ventured nothing gained which in this case was more weight since we didn't eat the ribs.
After supper we met in the lounge for a game of crib first one this trip, last year we had the cards wore out by now having a computer and a blog to update must keep us busier this year.