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SMART principles are real practices in the Microinvest team

If you want to learn more about a company, get to know the real people who work in it. Olga is the head of the Business Department at Microinvest, and she implements the international Client Protection Principles in lending daily at the team level, as well as in her work with clients

Olga, what do the international Client Protection Standards mean to you?

That’s a good question. The first association that comes to mind is “change” and “responsibility.” In 2016, when I joined Microinvest, I immediately realized that I had become part of a team striving for radical changes in non-bank lending and would implement them. In such a short period we managed to increase our portfolio from MDL 245 million to 2.8 billion and the number of active clients from 10,000.00 to over 42,000.00. Now that our influence on the market has become more significant, it is more important than ever to comply with the international Client Protection Standards, as more and more people seeking to achieve their goals choose our products with confidence. We set the standards for the market and set the pattern.

How did the history of international Smart certification for Microinvest begin?

Microinvest first received SMART Certification in 2015. To get it, the Company underwent due diligence to prove to the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) that it fully deserves the title of a responsible lender. I didn’t participate in the first certification, but I was part of the team that validated the certification in 2018. That process consisted of several stages: analysis of the Company’s internal regulations and procedures, its work processes and specific contracts with clients, visits, and discussions with colleagues and clients organized by the international team. We passed them all successfully. This year we confirmed this title for the third time, and we are proud to be the only Smart certified financial institution in Moldova.

Today more than 150 non-bank lending institutions are operating in Moldova. How does Microinvest differ from its competitors in the market?

By its attitude towards customers. Microinvest finances both entrepreneurs and individuals, striving to establish long-term relationships with everyone. We consider each loan as cooperation based on openness and respect. It can be difficult to comply with these principles, especially when competition in the market is not always fair. We deliberately chose the role of a reliable lender for our clients. That’s what makes us different.

The 7 principles are applied in day-to-day interaction with Microinvest clients. How did you manage to integrate them into the Company’s activities?

I can say more, SMART is not just principles, but the way we work every day, part of the Microinvest culture. The due diligence for the Smart certification showed us that we’ve followed the principles of customer protection before because we saw it as the right lending formula that we’ve adhered to. After receiving the certificate, we made some changes to become even better: we focused on training our team so that they clearly understood and could explain the terms of loan agreements to customers as plain as possible; we added new channels through which customers can apply with their recommendations and complaints. We have made sure that these principles were not complex rules but were followed “intuitively” as part of the Company’s culture.

In your opinion, what is the most important principle without which it is impossible to cooperate productively and reliably with clients?

It’s hard to choose one principle, they are all logically related to each other. Let’s look at the example of buying a car since many of us are faced with this experience in one way or another. To get real pleasure from the purchase, the car must meet several criteria at the same time. To suit you both technically and functionally, have no hidden defects, have optimum fuel consumption, and affordable maintenance. It is very difficult to understand all these parameters and find the best option. You need a real expert you can trust. It’s the same with loans. The company you apply to should be transparent, fair, provide you with an appropriate product format and objectively formed prices, and, in case of unclear situations, be open to resolving them. That’s how all our lending processes are built.

If you highlight a certain principle, then, in my opinion, one of the main ones is to prevent the over-indebtedness of the client. I still remember the story of a man who decided to sell his house because of a lot of debts. He was not our client, but his story made a deep impression on me. It is a difficult and unpleasant situation from which we want to protect our customers. When we, Microinvest employees, come to work, we want to help other people achieve their goals and experience only the benefits of lending.

What other practices are you planning to implement at Microinvest to maintain its position as a lender that cares about its customers?

Above all, we want to remain a lending institution that people can trust, regardless of current problems or competitive conditions. We take responsibility and care for our customers, and we try to contribute as much as possible to the financial education of the society in which we live. Every year we participate in the international financial education campaigns: Borrow Wisely (organized by MFC) and Global Money Week (organized by OECD), during which we hold a series of events and give useful recommendations to current and potential clients on how to turn credit into an advantage. We don’t stop there because responsible lending has become a lifestyle for Microinvest – a lender who cares about you.


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