20 November 2017
Breaking News

Q&A with MEDF COO Dingiswayo Jere

Written by  MPHATSO LASTONE NKUONERA
MEDF, Chief Opereation Officer, Dingiswayo Jere being interviewed by Malawi News Agency Reporter at his office, Lilongwe-Pic by Abel Ikiloni MEDF, Chief Opereation Officer, Dingiswayo Jere being interviewed by Malawi News Agency Reporter at his office, Lilongwe-Pic by Abel Ikiloni

Government through Parliament instituted the Malawi Rural Development Fund (MARDEF) which later changed to MEDF ( Malawi Enterprise Development Fund) to act as a reliable public money lending office for Malawians. Some years have passed and MPHATSO LASTONE NKUONERA caught up with Chief Operations Officer, DINGISWAYO JERE to explain more on its progress.

Q 1.  What are MEDF’s core objectives?


A. Basically MEDF objectives are as follows:

  1. To assist Malawians set up small business ventures which will uplift their well-being by providing them with affordable loans and sustainable technical, entrepreneurial, financial and business management skills
  1. To provide financial assistance in the form of loan capital to micro and small scale enterprises in urban and rural areas in Malawi
  2. To address challenges facing the youth in Malawi by providing them with knowledge, essential skills, competencies and opportunities to engage in micro, small and medium enterprises as a self-employment mechanism
  3. To provide the youth with sustainable artisan, technical, entrepreneurial, financial and business management skills that will promote business ingenuity as well as sufficiently prepare them to operate business ventures in an effective and efficient manner towards achieving continuity, growth and profitability;

Q 2. When did MEDF register more clients and when did you register the least?


A. We cannot necessarily quantify when we registered more or less clients.  We have been operating all along as a Project within the government system targeting specific clients with each project.


Q 3. What are major challenges that you are facing and what are you doing to address them?


A. The greatest challenge we are currently facing is to get repayments from some old loans as old as 4 to 5 years back that were also not properly appraised before the disbursement.  Most of these loans were disbursed based on some political interests that ended up being misconstrued by the clients as gifts by some Politicians.
We are trying to address this by engaging those politicians to understand that the money was not a gift but was meant to benefit Malawians. Those that are understanding are repaying and also those not cooperative are being taken through the legal processes by engaging the courts.  The bottom line, this is government’s money meant to be a revolving fund.  Of course, it is ironical if a Politician fails to pay and yet they are supposed to support the government’s program.  If a politician gets a loan and doesn’t pay, they are sabotaging the government’s program as what this means is that they are saying, “Let this program not continue”.


Another challenge that is almost positive is that we have more people demanding our loan products compared to how much we can disburse.  This means we are failing to meet the demand of our loan product.


In addressing this challenge, we are engaging the government to give us more capital funds that we could disburse to meet the demand.  On top of this, we are also engaging other partners that can put money into MEDF as you know now we are running not as a social project, but purely as a Micro-finance that is commercial and it is supposed to bring dividends to government.


Q 4. What type of people frequently access loans from MEDF?


A. As a Micro-finance institution that is owned by the government, we are so much targeting the non-bankable clients.  Those that cannot access financing from the commercial banks.  Looking at our mission, we are so much targeting the small-scale to medium entrepreneurs.  As such it is such kind of people that frequent MEDF for loans.

Q 5. How should Malawians work with your office to promote your agenda?

A.I would say let them repay the loans which they still owe MEDF before they are taken to courts.  Let us all know that a revolving loan is meant to reach many.  Pay back so that others access it as well.  In that process, we are promoting our country’s economy.  Let us all pass on the message that MARDEF has changed to MEDF and is now a commercial company.

Q 6. How do your ensure that there is no bias when serving clients?


A.MEDF is now a registered company that is regulated by all the tenets that govern the MFI industry in Malawi.  As such we are to operate under such rules and regulations.  At the same time, we are demand driven in our operations.  Clients walk to our offices for the loans as such there is no element of bias based on whatever reasons.  The only criteria we follow is that the client should meet our requirements during assessments.


Q 7. Share any information that you would like Malawians to know as regards the operations of your office?


A. What all of us should know now is that operationally, MEDF has changed.  This is what was called MARDEF, but since 2014, we have moved to acquiring a legal status as a micro-finance institution working as a business.  This means, we are applying all the rules that are applied in business and followed by other MFIs.  We are regulated by the laws that govern the MFIs.  As such all clients that are coming forward, should be aware of this change and should not compare us with the old MARDEF they used to know.  That being said, we are here to serve Malawians and contribute to the social-economic development of our country.  We are working towards financial inclusion and reaching out to the unbanked sector of our society.

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