Microfinance institutions in Tanzania apex body has opened a new chapter in Mwanza, upping the stakes in the sector, which is increasingly being recognised as vital for poverty reduction.

Tanzania Association of Microfinance Institutions (TAMFI) Executive Secretary, Ms Winnie Terry said in a press statement released yesterday, that  office bearers have already been elected for the chapter.

She said it was a new beginning for the Lake Zone microfinance Industry in developing a well-organised and responsible microfinance sector which was vital for greater and inclusive economic development.

“The birth of TAMFI- Mwanza Chapter is welcome news for micro finance institutions and consumers of their services in the Lake Zone,” she said, calling all the microfinance institutions across the zone to ensure they become members .

Representatives of xxxxx of micro finance institutions in the lake zone met last week and elected the following officials.

Joseph Kahungwa of Victoria Saccos was elected to chair  Mwanza Chapter while Patricia Mboya was voted the chapter’s secretary. Abel Mapunda from SIDO Saccos was named the treasurer.

The representatives from various microfinance institutions said they were happy with TAMFI’s objectives and services.  The Mwanza Chapter resolved that members will work in unity to collectively seek solutions to problems ailing the sector.

“TAMFI will help us sort out some of the major problems that hinder best services and progressive strategies,” noted Ms Anna Matete from Tujijenge Saccos.

She said defaulters were a major problems and TAMFI should help in identifying lasting solutions. Members agreed that  creation of a credit reference bureau would help to blacklist serial  defaulters.

Ms Matete noted microfinance industry  was still at infancy level compared to similar sector in the East African Community. “TAMFI’s endeavours to pushing the industry to higher  level within a short period,” she said.

Ms Terry informed the stakeholders that TAMFI will participate in the East African Microfinance Conference to be held next month in Kigali, Rwanda.

She said the association will continue to advocate the government of Tanzania to create and maintain an appropriate regulatory framework for microfinance institutions.

“So far we have done well in capacity building, networking that focus on sharing of the industry’s information, trends, knowledge, market and intelligence. Hopefully, the new chapter in the Lake Zone, will work to its capacity to ensure the industry makes a sky-high leap.

“It should be noted that Micro finance institutions offer great services to the citizens who commercial banks often ignore due to their little financial capabilities or remoteness,” said Ms Terry.

She further decried costly credits from commercial banks as the biggest challenge that impedes the provision of services by micro finance institutions in villages in particular. Most microfinance institutions borrow from the banks to lend to the poor and unbanked at a higher rate.

She also disclosed that  TAMFi has prepared a programme to offer financial education to customers and the general public as a practical move to improve services to customers.

Together with measures to establish financial education programme for customers, TAMFI has developed a code of conduct. “This is for the member organisation to be transparent about the cost of their services especially loans products, the premise being to allow customers understand costs before deciding to borrow and other best practise,” she said.

TAMFI has over 50 members including small and big micro finance institutions across the country.

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