The operations of Susu collectors in Ghana are increasingly becoming digitised following a partnership between the Ghana Co-operative Susu Collectors Association (GCSCA) and Savings at the Frontier.
Operators of the financial scheme say with proper data build up and management, they can now easily access the information of clients for speedy service and transparency.
Savings at the Frontier (SatF) is a joint programme by Mastercard Foundation and Oxford Policy Management (OPM) Limited, aimed at improving the financial inclusion of low-income individuals and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The partnership, thus, aims at equipping the GCSCA – the apex body of susu operators and unions – with the technical infrastructure required to digitise reporting and operations.
It is also ensuring that the necessary capacity is in place within the Association to manage the processes.
It would also create a framework to link up digital platform providers with Susu operators; organise stakeholder events involving practitioners, software developers and local and regional coordinators, to promote GCSCA’s digitisation agenda and create networking opportunities.
An official statement issued to the Ghana News Agency, on Tuesday, said this would complement the initial efforts by the German Development Cooperation (GiZ) to help the GCSCA transition from manual to digital record keeping.
It thus supported financial institutions and software developers to build and deploy technologies that enabled GCSCA members to digitise their business operations.
Edmund Benjamin-Addy, General Manager of GCSCA, said the digitisation agenda of the Association had resulted in a great transformation within the financial sub-sector, according to the statement.
“This has set the tone to make our work relevant to contribute to the digital space to support the national agenda,” it quoted him as saying.
He commended OPM and MasterCard Foundation for their support in ensuring that the Association achieved its digitisation agenda.
“As a result of this partnership, Susu operators’ bio data and other documentation are now stored and archived in solar-powered, secure servers, while Susu collectors on the ground are beginning to use Information Communication Technology to record their daily transactions, representing a clear step towards creating transparency and improving the customers’ trust in the sector,” it said.
It has also increased the capacity of GCSCA to enforce compliance by susu operators as well as quickened the reporting processes between the GCSCA National Secretariat and Regional Offices.
Ralph Menz, proprietor of Naa Sika Susu Enterprise said, “With a good management system, all clients’ data is accessible anytime; while the reconciliation of a customer’s account is instant, thereby avoiding trust issues.”
He added that digitisation had helped them to build a history for their customers who could use that data to access credit from partner financial services.
“It has allowed Naa Sika and other susu operators to aid in financial inclusion for the marginalized, an enabler in the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
Constantin Albot, Fund Manager for Savings at the Frontier, welcomed GCSCA’s commitment to the agenda of digitisation and transparency, saying that: “We were happy to contribute to some of the early steps in this journey.”
“We know that more work needs to be done but we are optimistic that the Association will build on these early steps and achieve the qualitative transformation that Susu operators and customers need and expect.”
Barakissa Tien-Wahser, GiZ Development Advisor, for her part, explained that, “Digitalisation starts with IT infrastructure and this is what, GCSCA needs to continue in their digitalisation journey.”
She, however, appealed for more support to enable the GCSCA to realise its digitisation agenda.
“The project came at the right moment with the right support for GCSCA to help them to achieve a large part of their objectives,” she said.
Edmund Benjamin-Addy, the General Manager of GCSCA, also said the digitisation agenda had resulted in a significant transformation in the financial sub-sector.
“This has set the tone to make our work relevant to contribute to the digital space to support the national agenda and we are so grateful to MasterCard Foundation and OPM,” he said.
GCSCA was established in 1994 as an umbrella organisation for all regional Susu collectors’ societies in Ghana.
The Association has affiliated societies in all the regions of Ghana and has its national headquarters in Accra.
GCSCA was established to self-regulate the activities of Susu collectors and instill best practices, which would build customer confidence in their operations.
Savings at the Frontier (SatF) is a six-and-a-half-year programme (2015-2022) that seeks to bridge the gap between the supply of formal financial services and informal savings mechanisms (ISMs) in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia.
It is to ensure that ISM users in these countries have a greater choice and use of financial services that best meet their needs.
SatF is a $17.6 million partnership between OPM and the Mastercard Foundation.