Pacific Regional Forum: “Building a Sustainable Microfinance: The Global-Local Experience”

Feb 28 – March 1, 2013 @ New Zealand

An Overview

Ujjivan was invited for the Pacific Regional Forum held at Auckland, New Zealand from February 28 to March 1, 2013 to share best practices in building an organizational culture that values human capital and creative ways of building capacity in a resource-constrained environment. The Forum was organized by Women’s World Banking (WWB), a global microfinance network of 39 financial institutions from 28 countries, with support from the New Zealand Aid Programme and the Asian Development Bank. The program featured global best practices from the WWB network as well as highlight local successful microfinance practices in the Pacific. The audience included over 60 Pacific microfinance stakeholders comprising practitioners, policy makers and regulators, donors and support organizations and the WWB network members.

The Session

Ujjivan was invited to be part of the Panel on Human Resources on the theme: “Transforming Institutions by Investing in Human Talent”. Mr.Vittal Rangan, Head of HR represented Ujjivan at the discussion. The other members in this Panel were: Ms. Dolores Torres, President and CEO,CARD Bank Inc., Philippines; Ms Shweta Sud, Executive Director, Institute of Banking and Business Management, PNG; Mr Tony Westaway, Managing Director, Nationwide Microbank Ltd., PNG.

The Panel shared thoughts on the Principles to building an organizational culture that values its human talent, what role do leaders play in setting the tone for a ‘learning’ organization, how does staff gender diversity enable an institution to deliver on its mission, what are the different and creative ways of building capacity in a resource-constrained environment.

Vittal shared Ujjivan’s experience on building an institution where the employee comes first. Ujjivan’s Talent Management Model operates on three pillars: (1) Recruitment: getting the right people in (2) Engagement: making employees feel at home and (3) Feedback: where and why are employees exiting. Some of Ujjivan’s HR best practices shared in the forum included:

  • Our recruitment process of hiring through customer referral thereby ensuring the natural-social connect of the candidate during selection;
  • Engaging the employees to the mission of the organization;
  • Leadership time on people issues (they travel for at least 10 days a month connecting with employees on field). How ‘People & Culture Building’ is Leadership Agenda and not HR agenda with CEO leading by example (with specific reference to Pacific where most organizations are small and do not have an HR department of their own);
  • ‘Walk the Talk’ is a critical differentiator for Ujjivan e.g. the 7.00 pm time rule for staff with the CEO leaving office punctually and expecting staff to do so too
  • Gender Diversity making business-sense at Ujjivan (WWB study at Ujjivan demonstrated that customer defaults, loan utilization show good results when customers are handled by women). Vittal also shared the HR challenges and how the local demographic affects the working population and thereby our ability to hire women employees.
  • Sensitivity to the local culture and linking management decisions to this was an idea well received by the Pacific participants

Overall, the discussion was on building sustainability for the staff first, for the organization to be successful in the long run. This being independent of HR department.

During the Q&A session, the participants showed specific interest on Ujjivan’s Training & Leadership Development initiatives e.g. our Management Associate Program and 1st & 2nd level supervisory programs. Our Social Development Program where branch staff together with employees conduct the welfare projects, was also discussed.

A booklet: “What Makes Ujjivan a Great Place To Work” carrying a summary of our Best Practices can be downloaded here.

The original post can be found here.