ENTREPRENEURS Financial Centre (EFC) Zambia was in the early years of its formation known as Pulse Holdings Limited, a company limited by guarantee. PFSL started as a CARE Zambia project in 1996 and later transformed into Pulse Holdings. In 2008, Pulse Financial Services Ltd (PFSL) was incorporated into a privately owned microfinance institution.
PFSL began to change its operations to set new standards that would ensure that its objective of building a viable and reliable microfinance institution would be realised. The official launch of PFSL into an MFI, took place in 2009 following the approval of the deposit taking license by the Bank of Zambia. This ceremony was officiated by the then minister of finance and national planning on July 22, 2009 at the PFSL headquarters.
With the transformation of PULSE into PFSL, from a social economic into a privately owned microfinance institution, the organisation is in a key strategic position of contribution towards the growth of the financial sector through enhancing financial inclusiveness of minority groups.
All this transformation may not have been possible minus Zambia's conducive investment climate and without the help of the cooperating partners namely, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), FMO, Africa Development Bank, DBZ as well as its investors namely, AfricInvest, Triple Jump, Bamboo Financial Inclusion Fund (previously known as Blue Orchard Private Investment Fund) and the Développement International Desjardins (DID), without whom this strategic transformation may not have taken place. DID is a subsidiary of the Desjardins group and the sixth largest bank in Canada.
In 2011, PFSL joined the network of Entrepreneurs Financial Centres (EFC) and has officially been trading under this name since January, 2012. EFC is currently operating in Tanzania, Uganda and Panama and there are plans of opening other EFCs in countries around Africa.
In Zambia, the EFC continues to expand its operations and is currently operational with one branch in Chipata in Eastern Province, one branch in Kitwe on the Copperbelt Province, four branch outlets spread out in Lusaka Province and five business loan centres situated in Ndola, Kafue and Lusaka specifically in Chilenje, Kalingalinga and Soweto market. The EFC Zambia head office is situated at the corner of Katunjila Road and Freedom Way in Lusaka.
Micro-finance institutions continue to face increasingly complex challenges. Not only are they called on to cater for the needs of an immense market, but they also have to respond to a variety of pressing needs. In an effort to keep abreast with industry practice, remain efficient, effective, reliable and maintain a strong performance so as to remain a going concern, EFC subscribes to PROXFIN an international network of thirty community finance institutions including the Développement international Desjardins (DID), whose members have made a commitment to work towards the dual objectives of financial performance and social impact which they consider inseparable. The 2013 Proxfin seminar will be held in September, 2013 here in Zambia.
As the fastest growing micro finance institution in Zambia, EFC continues to increase peri-urban and urban MSMEs access to specialised financial services on a sustainable basis while contributing to wealth creation, improvement of living conditions and development of the Zambian private sector.
EFC continues to be the preferred micro-finance solution for entrepreneurs in Zambia purely on merit of various products on offer, tailored to suit the individual needs of MSMEs. The MSMEs have access to various savings accounts, business loans and home Improvement loans.
The process of opening an EFC savings account is easy and the account fees are affordable for all. Both individuals and small businesses are able to save with us. The savings balance can also be used as security for loans.
In addition to the savings products, MSMEs can access business loans in the form of market women traders loans or commercial loans for MSMEs. These loan products are for revenue producing activities such as wholesale/ retail, poultry, stationery and hardware to mention but a few.
EFC's market women traders product is designed to provide financial opportunities for female clients with small businesses and limited finances. This product is used by market women as a means to acquiring stock. The product aims at improving the women's livelihood by empowering them financially.
The commercial loan MSME product is suitable for business individuals that want to invest or acquire fixed assets, stock etc. This loan product is recommended for entrepreneurs who wish to expand their business on a larger scale.
EFC Zambia also offers a housing product, because many entrepreneurs often use their homes as productive assets in generating income. Aside from being a place where a family spends its time, a house has also the potential to become a huge business project. For this purpose, the Home improvement loan enables those entrepreneurs with a housing project to either complete the house, which should have already reached window level, or to extend an already existing house for entrepreneurial activities or personal purposes. The loan could enable one to convert a house into a productive income generating asset such as adding a block of flats for purposes of letting or leasing out.
In addition, EFC is running an incentive scheme known as the Client Share Ownership Programme (CSOP) which allows borrowing clients to progressively become part owners of EFC. This is a first in the Zambian microfinance sector. To participate, a client must have a good repayment history. In other words, the clients must not have accumulated more than two late repayment periods, of not more than 10 days, each on the loan. The CSOP is a scheme only and exclusively fuelled by EFC borrowing clients' incentive mechanism. The eligible borrower may receive back a minimum of 10 per cent of the total interest paid, after which the client has an opportunity to choose between four different investment options. As an added incentive, EFC contributes an incremental bonus on the amount invested by the borrower into the CSOP. The more the borrowing client invests in the CSOP, the larger the total value of the incentive amount. The incentive is paid to the client upon full repayment of the loan and after validation of their credit record. The incentive is paid in accordance with the guidelines of EFC's Client Share Ownership Programme (CSOP).
In continued efforts to meet the needs of our customers, EFC recently launched its inter-branch connectivity programme; a web application that allows funds to be transferred between EFC branch outlets. The official launch was held at Eviva Restaurant and the event was graced by Nathan De Asis, the board Chairman for EFC.
More than ever before, EFC Zambia is committed to being the next step for all MSMEs business and the preferred institution for entrepreneurs in Zambia.
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