James Emejo in Abuja
Fortis Microfinance Bank Plc has been labeled the first Client Protection Certified organisation in Nigeria by Smart Campaign, a global initiative to incorporate strong client-protection and best practices into the microfinance industry.
By this recognition which is seen as big boost to the fortunes of the bank, Fortis joins 16 other companies from Latin America, Eastern Europe and South Asia which had been so certified since the programme was launched in January 2013. The award means that Fortis is currently the only institution to be so honoured in the continent.
The Fortis MFB, which has served the West African region for 8 years with over 400,000 clients currently has also advanced micro-credit facilities totaling N15 billion to 64 clients.
Director of the Smart Campaign, Isabelle Barrès, said: “We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Fortis Microfinance Plc. Their willingness to do the work it takes to prepare for and undergo the intensive process of evaluation is indicative of their deep commitment to their clients. They have shown that this bar is achievable in the area of client protection. Their example will catalyze a movement towards certification within the broader industry.”
Essentially, the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Certification programme publicly recognises those institutions providing financial services to low-income households whose standards of care uphold the Smart Campaign’s seven Client Protection Principles including pricing, transparency, fair and respectful treatment and prevention of over-indebtedness.
Speaking at a briefing in Abuja, Managing Director, Fortis Microfinance Bank, Mr. Tiko Okoye said: “We have always held a strong commitment to protecting our clients, but this independent validation lends credibility and demonstrates to our esteemed clients and our industry that we continue to work every day to improve our service and our commitment to best practices in microfinance.”
Also, Investment Officer of FMO-the Dutch Development Bank, which is a major creditor to the Fortis, Mr. Jeroen Harteveld expressed satisfaction over the development.
He said: “We congratulate Fortis on this milestone and encourage the management to continue on this path of placing the customers at the forefront of its activities.”
Furthermore, Managing Director, Fortis Mobile Money Limited, Mr. Jero Omare-Ogah added that “In the last eight years, we have touched the lives of thousands of families across Nigeria, have supported over 100,000 entrepreneurs and have financially and socially empowered over 100,000 Nigerian women through our savings, micro loans and business advisory services.”