Thursday, September 1, 2016

Default Management in CBFO

Microfinance means different things to different people. There is difference between working of regular MFI companies and Community-Based Financial Organizations (CBFO). Community based microfinance model, owned and governed by community members has always served cost-effectively and provided financial services to the end users. Too much scaling without proper assessment could drive CBFO to financial indiscipline at the SHG level, lead to over-borrowing and potential default. While working with few clients will be unsustainable for the CBFO itself.

Loans can benefit the poor and their community only if properly managed. In most of the default, the pressure on giving loans without proper risk assessment mounts on both supply and demand side. A debt becomes bad when it’s not paid for three consecutive months. Here are few pointers that are learnt with the experience -

How to avoid delinquency ?

• Peer monitoring and group pressure is the main influential factor in loan recovery performance of the SHGs. Even the family of loan applicant must be in the loop when loan is sanctioned.

• Due diligence must be carried out in loan appraisal to ensure the repayment capacity of the customer and assessing the customer's capacity to repay and avoid over-indebtedness. Educating clients on ill effects of over-borrowing will go a long way in reducing arrears and defaults.

• Recovery and repayments depend on the mutual trust between CBFO and its members. Agent dormancy, or inability to deliver service due to vacancy, has a corrosive effect on trust, which is the bedrock for any system of financial services.

• The clarity on installments, penalty & expected vs actual must be with agent as well as member for bringing clarity and smooth information flow.

• It is the responsibility of the staff to clear overdue and facilitate the grievances readdressal with the community. There must be refresher training for the staff and office bearers on risk management, sustainability, accountability and ownership.

• Knowledge dissemination of Panchasutra : Regular Meeting, Regular Saving, Inter Loaning, Timely Repayment, & Up to date Books of Accounts.

• Reminders or calls up the customer for recovery is common practice. Weekly SMS reminders before scheduled repayment date with detail of loan amount will serve as a nudge in the behavioral change of members.

• Documenting and communicating answers of questions like -What was the main single factor that motivated you to repay? Are they consistent or not? If not, why not?

Do’s of Overdue Recovery

• Try to motivate borrowers to repay and root cause analysis of the default must be filed. The default happens either due to fraud or real time emergency. The distinction between them makes easy for recovery down the road.

• Only one person must be Point of Contact (POC) for default/ delinquent group. Recovery for default must be done in the team of office bearers and members of SHG or cluster with the staff.

• There must be a notice served to members having defaulted loan before visit. Regular follow-ups with proper communication messages are the best way of ensuring recovery.

• The emotional factor must be utilized in recovery process by giving successful examples of other members in such position. There must be pressure exerted from two sides. One person must explain her social angle of the default while other person must focus on self interest and future options.

• The defaulted member must be invited in the meetings with respect. Staff must facilitate that positive environment is maintained in the meetings. There must be carefulness on the gender and caste issue.

• Recovery should normally be made only at a mutually agreed designated place. Field staff shall be allowed to make recovery at the place of residence or work of the borrower only if borrower fails to appear at the designated place on 2 or more successive occasions.

Don’t of Overdue Recovery

• Team especially consisting all men shouldn't go for recovery from women member and no abusive language should be used. The contact time is between 7am to 7pm excluding inappropriate occasions such as death. RBI norm must be followed with rigor in the recover process.

• Police complain is the last option to be used by the team. There should be strictly no mention of claiming Land/ Gold for recovery of default amount.

• Field staff shouldn't give any commitment of either rescheduling or restructuring of the loan without any consent to the superiors. To rework household budget and make provisions to accommodate changes in the repayment amount must be made in written agreement.

• A very high level of indebtedness and tough recovery techniques can led to many villagers seeking government intervention that will be political risk for the operations.

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