Consistency and Attitude
I am Judith Ojwang. I am a loan officer for Premier Credit, a Kenyan microfinance institution. Premier Credit is a subsidiary of Platcorp Holdings. BIO and the SDG Frontier Fund have invested Ascent Rift Valley Fund II, which has invested in Platcorp Holdings.
Before joining Premier Credit, I worked in marketing for a company specialised in import and distribution. However, the limited prospects for growth and the sporadic nature of the work made me want to leave. Since it was not a full-time opportunity, I often found myself with a lot of time on my hands, not doing anything.
Seeing there was an opportunity to grow and expand my horizons, I joined Premier Credit’s Limuru Branch in 2015, with determination and an unwavering spirit. In 2017, I transferred to the Kangemi Branch, where I was promoted to the role of SupaKwik supervisor, leading a team of five people. SupaKwik loans are short-term loans to cater to the immediate needs for funds for unforeseen expenses, short term working capital requirements or family needs. Supakwik clients usually do not possess collateral, therefore we are the only ones willing to lend to them. Supakwik is interest free; only a processing fee is charged. As a team, we surpassed expectations by achieving a loan target of three million Kenyan shillings (around EUR 19,600) within three months.
Motivated and ambitious, I then transitioned to the role of a supervisor overseeing two teams.
The secret behind my success is consistency and the right attitude. You must avoid being lazy and you must get out of your comfort zone. This is done by setting your mind on what you are going to do and strive to achieve it. Keep pushing! Don’t give up!
Anthony is currently on his 3rd loan, of KES 90,000 (around EUR 590) from Premier Credit. Judith is his loan officer. Anthony has had his shop for 20 years and has no intention of stopping. He chose Premier Credit because its services are good and the turn-around time short.
He uses his loans to pay for the stock of his store, where he sells both electronics and shoes – because, as he says it, “some people like shoes, while others like electronics."
As supervisor, I am also tasked to ensure that we get new business consistently. However, it is important that my team members engage with new clients and build a rapport and guide them through the process.
Jiru is currently on her 9th loan from Premier Credit, the latest one KES 150,000 (around EUR 660). She owns a piece of land, on which she has built semi-permanent (wooden) and permanent (stone) rental houses. Funds from Premier Credit have enabled her to renovate and improve them.
She aims to have all her semi-permanent houses upgraded into permanent ones, as this will allow her to rent them out for KES 10,000 (around EUR 65) each. This will cost an additional KES 2M (around EUR 13,000). Luckily, Premier Credit is more than happy to continue its relationship with this entrepreneur.
My journey has not been without challenges, but I remain determined in my pursuit of success. Although with most clients we succeed in building long-lasting trustful support to their businesses, confrontational or even violent clients occasionally make the collection of outstanding loan amounts difficult. In such instances, tact and strategic manoeuvring are essential.
When I joined the Limuru office, there was a client who had defaulted on a loan of KES 200,000 (around EUR 1,300). As he did not have the money to repay, he mobilised the community and said we were thieves. Unfortunately, we did not have any badges or tags to identify ourselves. Premier Credit was only one year old, so people did not know us, and they believed the man. We were chased away, and those who were not able to run were taken to the police station.
Now that Premier Credit is well known in the market, we don’t have experiences like that very often any more. Once, in Kagiri, we went to see a client to follow up on a balance of KES 40,000 (around EUR 260). When the client became confrontational, however, the neighbours came out to defend us.
Despite these incidents, we never waver. Premier Credit’s referral system, based on exceptional customer care, helps build client loyalty and trust, contributing to their ability to navigate challenging situations.
Premier Credit is a responsible lender and aware that sometimes its clients lag behind on their scheduled loan repayments. That is why the company has introduced a number of measures to better guide the clients:
- Accept partial repayments until the full instalments are fully paid
- Reschedule loans to fit the client’s ability to pay
- Discourage aggressive selling and overfunding of clients amongst the workforce
Premier Credit also provides training to its employees on customer service, quality control, soft skills and work-life balance.
My team and I follow a six-day work week, with the seventh day designated for rest. Achieving a weekly target of loan disbursements to over a hundred clients requires strategic planning and a commitment to success. On top of this, I have to ensure that reports are done and sent to managers to track the performance record of the team.
Looking ahead, I see myself as a fully-fledged branch manager within the next two to three years, leading a team and meeting targets independently. Premier Credit’s growth trajectory, proven track record, and recommendations from my superiors create a favourable environment for advancement. It’s not enough to just meet targets and have the right academic qualifications, it’s important to have leadership qualities and be a team player.
I firmly believe in my abilities and work ethic. Perseverance and determination are crucial attributes for surmounting the challenges of the financial sector. By working tirelessly and engaging with the right businesses, I can overcome all challenges that are thrown on my path.
Ms. Judith Ojwang is a loan officer for Premier Credit, a Kenyan microfinance institution. Premier Credit is a subsidiary of Platcorp Holdings. BIO and the SDG Frontier Fund have invested Ascent Rift Valley Fund II, which has invested in Platcorp Holdings.
Ascent Rift Valley Fund II
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