Five years ago, the Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation (Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation) started to set up a small “savings bank” in Bhutan. The project targets to promote the idea of savings and give access to small loans in particular in remote rural areas of Bhutan with the upshot to strengthen the local economy. The – exclusively female – executive officers of the still young microfinance institution RENEW MFI were given the opportunity to inform themselves at two German Sparkassen (savings banks), how this mandate has been successfully put into practice in Germany for more than 200 years now.
The delegation first visited the Sparkasse Germersheim-Kandel. This German savings bank is partnering the project and renders support by seconding its staff to advise the MFI on site in Bhutan. The delegation visit focused on the topics of credit risk management, customer consulting, internal audit and tapping the youth market. Notwithstanding the immense differences between the business activities and working conditions in Germany and Bhutan, the basic principles of corporate governance and the focus on the needs of the customers are the same.
At the Kreissparkasse Köln the delegation was informed about the dual vocational training within the German Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (Savings Banks Finance Group), the career opportunities for women within the Kreissparkasse Köln and possibilities of customer retention, for instance with the help of social media. The guests from Bhutan were particularly impressed by the mobile branch of Kreissparkasse Köln. Thanks to state-of-the-art technical devices, the customers can handle all important banking issues here. In Bhutan, too, the field officers drive to their customers. But due to the road conditions, this is only possible with off-road vehicles. Technical innovation is also part of the agenda: It is planned to record all cash receipts and disbursements with the help of convertible tablet PCs.
One of the Bhutanese delegation members summarized the visit to Germany as follows: “It is not possible to directly transfer all things 1:1, but many aspects of the things we have learned here will be incorporated in our daily routine to successfully develop and optimise our project work.”
More information about Sparkassenstiftung’s project to set up a microfinance institution in Bhutan can be accessed here
The film “Under the red umbrella” – a helpful tool of RENEW MFI to enhance the financial literacy of potential customers – can be accessed here
Dr. Ilonka Rühle / Carina Lau
Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation
Tel.: +49 228 9703 6624 / 6608
Fax: +49 228 9703 6613