Two micro finance institutions, Grooming Centre and Fortis Microfinance bank, have been given the Smart Certification for client protection.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Smart certification provided an independent, objective seal of confidence that a financial institution is doing everything it could to treat its clients well and protect them from harm.
The Smart campaign began in 2008 when a group of microfinance industry leaders came together to launch a campaign that established the Client Protection Principles.
To put the principles into action, the Smart campaign was launched in October 2009.
In her welcome address at the occasion on Friday, Ms Isabelle Barres, Vice President, Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) and Director of the Smart campaign, noted that low financial literacy levels was one of the biggest client protection issues in Nigeria.
Barres said that the campaign focused on the microfinance industry and how to assist them to achieve global best practices in their operations.
According to her, the third phase of the campaign spans through 2017-2020 with a focus on Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Rwanda.
She explained that each convening of the campaign was aimed at bringing key stakeholders together to address consumer risks.
She also added that the knowledge of client protection and challenges were important in boosting the efficiency of the operations of microfinance.
While receiving the award, Dr Godwin Nwabunka, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Grooming Center, said that his experience working at the UN helped him and his team in achieving the Smart certification.
Nwabunka noted that client protection had been the goal of Grooming Center, adding that certification came naturally.
He said that the certification conferred greater trust and would help them attract foreign investors.
According to him, the virtue of respecting the rights of the individual, which he cultivated in is over 18 years experience working with the UN, helped him in the protection of the rights of the rural women his institution work with.
Tiko Okoye, CEO, Fortis Micro Finance Bank, said the Smart certification would , among others, boost the bank’s brand.
According to him, being the first set in Nigeria, second in Africa and the 16th in the world to receive the certification will only make them to be more effective in dealing with their customers.
While presenting the awards to the banks, Mrs Umma Aminu Dutse, Director Consumer Protection Department of the CBN, urged them to continue to strive to protect the interest of their clients.
NAN reports that the Smart Certification inspires institutions to improve their businesses.
It also helps investors, donors and regulators distinguish financial institutions that put their customers first. (NAN)