This Japanese phrase translates to “go and see for yourself”; very applicable when one thinks that key financial services such as debt recovery would be a simple ‘Copy and Paste’ recipe, irrespective of geographical location. Although by and large that may be true, particularly in developed countries, it’s not quite that simple in the developing regions of the world.
Factors such as the availability of technology, local regulations and/or legislation, governing body presence and local culture significantly influence how the industry operates in developing countries. Africa is a great example of this, as we have seen in the Nimble Group.
Southern is not South
Nimble prides itself in being at the forefront of using technology to not only improve internal efficiencies, but to also improve the debtor experience by providing multiple ways to facilitate repayment engagement. These include online payment platforms, mobile apps, E-forms, etc. This works well in South Africa because of the level of comfort with online transactions. However, in our operations in Namibia and Botswana, the reality is quite different. Significant differences are seen, with greatly reduced confidence in online/digital transactions, increased preference for cash, and direct deposits driven by historical ‘face to face’ norms.
That said, Nimble remains an active and leading financial services provider and debt acquisition partner to many of the major credit grantors across our entire African footprint.
International Finance Corporation (IFC)
A major positive development within the group was the recent partnering and joint venture with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The core undertaking is to provide bespoke debt relief solutions across Africa, primarily through debt acquisition transaction models that ultimately allow debtors the opportunity to relieve the burden of long outstanding debt through monthly payment and/or settlement restructures, at a fraction of the original debt obligations. It’s an area that allows the IFC to support freeing up capital to the credit grantors, but it also provides much-needed debt rehabilitation & relief to debtors.
Sales of non-performing loans (NPL’S) are not widely understood in the developing markets. Firstly, there are very few pools of organised capital to address the potential needs. Secondly, there is an educational process for the credit providers to understand how to utilise these tools in order to better manage their balance sheets.
The IFC has a strong and well respected advisory network across Africa. It has worked extensively with the World Bank, bringing international best practices into sharp focus across Africa. In addition to the enormous presence that the IFC has in Africa, it is obviously enormously helpful to have meaningful amounts of capital committed to solving NPL challenges.
We are excited about the possibilities and opportunities associated with our new partnership with the IFC. We will surely look back at this particular time, as the World tackles the Covid-19 crisis, and be proud of the role that Nimble is now able to play in resolving NPL’s in a constructive and sensitive manner.
Written by: Marius Smith, Nimble Group Chief Operating Officer