By Charles K Mark
Chairperson of the Association of Microfinance Institutions in South Sudan (AMISS) said small business entrepreneurs require serious financial literacy for them to learn financial discipline.
Yengi Lokule was speaking during the launch of the association in Juba, on Thursday.
He urged the need to educate progressing businessmen and women in order for them to make informed financial decisions.
“What do I mean by informed financial decisions? Somebody gets financial discipline and is able to decide how much to spend,” Mr. Yengi said.
He added that they discovered in many uninformed societies that people, after selling their produce, rush to nearby towns to spend the money.
“We recently finished a project that was running for agricultural finance, and when we did finance literacy, a lot of the clients said we thank you for this course because, usually, when we get the money after selling our maize, we end up in the towns, and when the money is finished, we come back,” the Chair quoted
Yengi also testified that the habit of spending is for all South Sudanese, who are known throughout the region, especially in the East African Community, as rich people.
“The truth is, we are not. The truth is, we are very good spenders. We have a high propensity to consume whatever we get. So I believe all of us just need a bit of financial literacy because, outside there, we are thought of as rich,” he noted.
The AMISS chair explained that a lack of financial discipline and literacy is the reason countrymates spend all that they earn.
The head of AMISS reiterated the need to extend help to change the mindset of the people from relief to development.
“When you make sure these people get money at the right time to do whatever they want, find them being able to change their mindset and start thinking developmental,” he advised.
Meanwhile, the national minister of finance and economic planning, Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol, pledged government support to boost the operations of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The minister, however, called for a conducive atmosphere for operations, citing that, in addition to financial support, there is a need for capacity building to move forward.
He also touched on financial literacy, saying there are a number of people who have businesses but are unable to produce financial statements.
The Minister of Finance added that such entrepreneurs hardly differentiate between assets and liabilities.
“It is your role as microfinance to educate them, to tell them how to record their assets, how to record their liabilities, how to keep their financial statements, and how to monitor their financial books and accounts,” Bak directed.
“I know you have a very challenging environment now because some of our commercial banks even turn out to be microfinance institutions because of their undercapitalization,” he said.