THE WAY FORWARD

Zambia 2015 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jeremy Chibuye, Executive Chairman of JMAAC International, on how financial services can aid socioeconomic development and regulatory changes.

Jeremy Chibuye

What needs in the market are you fulfilling that were previously unattended?

We have partnered with government, prime private sector companies, and SMEs. The company is headed towards attaining one million customers. We recently launched micro-lending to civil servants that enables them to access the facility within a processing timeframe of 24 hours. This is the first phase in our business plan followed by the private sector in the second phase.

How can you make a successful business from clients considered high risk?

This segment can be advantageous as an opportunity to make money and give people the chance to realize their ambitions. Competitive advantage lies in creating an opportunity from a threat the potential clients considered high risk. This advantage can be realized by introduction of structured financial solutions that are strategically customized for these clients to mitigate potential risk.

What role do financial services play in the socioeconomic development of the country?

Individuals and businesses need to be able to manage their finances in order to make changes in their lives or activities. The financial sector is critical to the market and the economy, because that is what drives enterprises and allows people to move up to the next level. We need to send a message to the government and remind them that financial institutions are the core of the economy.

What kind of changes in regulations are we likely to see in the financial sector?

Regulations related to interest rates will be crucial. The factors that contribute to the interest rates are related to political developments. It should be noted that Zambia is a safe destination for any investor, but on the other hand we have investors coming in that are high risk, so interest has to be high. If you borrow money at high rates you cannot make repayments.

What steps need to be taken for Zambia to improve its manufacturing industry?

The government is the key player in the economy, and must take the initiative to diversify industry. The industrial sectors of Germany, the US, and the UK, as well as other major economies, are all strong. With the backing of the agricultural sector, you need not worry about currency fluctuation, which is why our government needs to put most of its focus on bringing out the best in both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. As a financial institution we need to support the government and must make it simpler for people to access money and support their businesses.

Is the government sufficiently protective of local industry?

Zambian local manufacturing industry competes with continental and global imports. However, the country has witnessed potential growth and this could be improved by revisiting the Procurement and Manufacturing Act. This would regulate factors of protection, support and give more incentives to local businesses and encourage emergence of more local manufacturer.

How to you plan to help improve financial literacy?

We are in discussions with partners from various institutions, and are aiming to start some new programs in this area. We are in communication with the Lusaka Stock Exchange, and want to develop workshops for the general public. The public sector will undertake the education of citizens in the importance of sensibly investing borrowed money to better control their savings. We are hoping to start this program in September.

Is JMAAC partnering with ICT companies to improve the access to financial services through the use of technology?

We are working on an application with which you can access money on your mobile phone, and are partnering mobile companies for this scheme. We expect the project to be operational in August 2015. There is an IT company set to provide this service, and we are merely waiting to sign on the dotted line. We would like to develop mobile facilities in rural areas, and will promote these nationwide beginning in Lusaka province. We hope to expand the facility rapidly. By December I would like to be supporting at least 20 manufacturing companies.