What does it mean to realize and promote the financial inclusion in the Eastern Neighbourhood Region during the COVID-19 times? What lessons the European Investment Bank (EIB) and AFC Agriculture and Finance Consultants (AFC) could share with the international financial community to strengthen the staff resilience and to ensure the business continuity during potential crisis circumstances?
These questions were discussed on the EIB stage during the 23rd MFC Annual Conference, “Social Finance Vibe: Pandemic Reboot” on 14-16 September 2021. The online event gathered development bankers and financial sector professionals from all over the world to network, share ideas and build the groundwork for successful future partnerships.
On September 14, the virtual roundtable discussion at the EIB stage was dedicated to lending an advisory support which EIB renders to micro-, small and mediums enterprises (MSMEs) beyond the EU, particularly the partnership with CREDO Bank and MFO Crystal in Georgia.
The speakers were Sonja Mohnen, Senior Investment Officer at the EIB, who discussed about the positive impact of dedicated consultancy on overcoming of COVID-19 challenges with Nana Tughushi, Head of Investor Relations and Funding at CREDO Bank, Salome Kvakhadze, Head of Talent Development and Management Department at Crystal MFO, and Mamuka Maisuradze, Deputy Team Leader of the ENTAFI Project, which AFC implements of behalf of the EIB in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Credo Bank is the leading bank in the Georgian microfinance market with 75 service centers and more than 335,000 customers. So far, its stability especially during COVID-19 times became crucial to provide sustainable financial services to micro, small and medium-sized businesses. At the beginning of 2021, Credo Bank, supported by ENTAFI programme, designed its specific Business Continuity Plan, which was approved for implementation by the National Bank of Georgia.
Nana Tughushi highlighted that the implementation of clearly defined measures helped to strengthen resilience and ensure stability of the bank during COVID-19 circumstances. “We completed all mandatory tests, identified state of emergency, activated relevant processes to respond on potential disruption events and finally redefined roles and responsibilities to address different issues as required. As a result, there were no significant disruptions neither at home office or service center levels and Credo Bank delivered uninterrupted service to our clients”, she added.
Meanwhile, the MFO Crystal is the largest non-banking financial institution in Georgia, with more than 1,000 staff operating through 48 branches and serving more than 100,000 unique customers across Georgia. AFC experts revised and significantly updated the Staff Resilience Strategy and the Remote Work Manual, which were tailored to the new reality of COVID-19. Experts provided specific recommendations on potential improvements of the Strategy and the Manual. In addition, the top and middle management benefitted from individual and group coaching. “Many techniques important for managers have been transferred to practice for further use, and coaching culture is underway to be implemented in Crystal”, stated Salome Kvakhadze, Crystal MFO’s Head of Talent Development and Management Department.