WBS/BANKSETA Launch Groundbreaking Programme In Development Finance
The Banking Sector Education and Training Authority (BANKSETA) has partnered with Wits Business School (WBS) to launch an exciting first-of-its-kind international programme in development finance.
The main focus of the new IEDP in Development Finance is to promote financial inclusion through exploring new and innovative approaches to financial services and microfinance.
“We are so excited to be partnering with WBS, who was the successful bidder to implement the International Development Programme (IEDP) in the Development Finance sector, in this training initiative. Not only does it align perfectly with our skills development mandate within the South African microfinance sector but it looks toward financial inclusion and transformation on a broader scale with different developing nations sharing their insights,” says Shaun Starr, Manager of Alternative Banking at BANKSETA.
Apart from a series of contact sessions taking place at WBS, the inaugural cohort will have just returned from 10 days in Ghana and Tanzania, with Brazil on the itinerary later on in the year.
Starr explains that the delegates, twenty in total, will be exposed to various business models in microfinance through case studies drawn other emerging markets with a key focus on innovative product design, developmental credit products, consumer protection and policy and regulatory frameworks, among others.
“The programme will give delegates a forum to network with peers and share ideas and experiences with financial institutions and policy makers – it will be a great opportunity to deepen their understanding of the key drivers of innovation in this area,” Starr adds.
Jabulani Fakazi, from the Rural Housing Loan Fund (RHLF) and a delegate on the programme, recognises the high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment as major stumbling blocks to financial inclusion for many South Africans.
“We need, as a country, to do more in creating and implementing programmes that address the needs of informal entrepreneurs so that they can become fully fledged SMMEs that can contribute job creation and to the economy,” he comments.
“I am also concerned about the high levels of indebtedness, which for me is a clear indicator of poor consumer protection. Indebtedness levels are not only a function of reckless lending, but are the result of poorly protected consumers who do not fully appreciate the need for responsible borrowing.”
Fakazi is excited about the opportunity to learn from other countries about ways to enhance financial inclusion, even if those countries do not have a sophisticated financial services sector. “For example,” he says, “some developing countries are ahead of South Africa in financial technology and digital financial services for financial inclusion while we lag behind, especially as far as low income market segments are concerned.”
The programme is a mix of theory and practical, with immersive tours organised for the students to interact with entrepreneurs, business owners and community members ‘on the ground’. The combination of local and international engagement enriches the learning experience.
“I really like the fact that study tours will include two other African countries. I believe strongly that we can learn a lot from our fellow Africans before we look elsewhere. I also like the choice of Brazil as a third country for study tour. As a fellow BRICS member we can learn a lot from Brazil about measures to reduce poverty,” says Fakazi.
Magauta Mphahlele, CEO of Ithukeng Credit Solutions (ICS) and a fellow delegate, is looking forward to furthering her research on developmental lending through the programme.
“My concern is that there are no clear policies and guidelines to encourage developmental lending for housing and small business development in South Africa. There is also an evident gap between access and usage of financial products and services that are not meeting the unique needs of the financially excluded. The challenge is to balance the need to create an enabling environment for innovation while applying appropriate regulatory tools and interventions.”
“I am immensely grateful to be part of this programme and hope that I will influence positive changes in the credit and general financial inclusion space. I also wish to congratulate BANKSETA and WBS for focusing on developmental finance as it is one of the pillars to achieving financial inclusion and alleviating poverty,” concludes Mphahlele.
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