“Walking the Talk” with Eyad Nino: A Practitioner’s Insights on Microfinance Leadership

September 7, 2015

Eyad Nino, Microfund for Women (Jordan) Eyad Nino serves as Deputy General Manager of Strategic Planning & Operations at Microfund for Women (MFW), a Women’s World Banking network member in Jordan. Prior to joining MFW in 2014, Eyad spent 15 years in various management roles in private sector companies. Now he uses his business knowledge to help MFW more effectively achieve its mission of empowering low-income entrepreneurs, particularly women, through access to financial and non-financial services.

In June of this year, Eyad shared his wealth of knowledge with the Women’s World Banking network through an “Ask Me Anything” forum on our online Leadership Community site. Women’s World Banking network members, staff, and leadership program alumni sought advice from Eyad on a wide variety of topics, including human resources, strategic planning, and serving the low-income women’s market. Eyad offered action-oriented responses drawing on his deep management experience and clear passion for MFW’s social mission. In order to share his insights with our blog-readers, we’ve condensed Eyad’s thoughts into six key recommendations for, in his words, “walking the talk” in providing financial opportunities to low-income women.

  1. Let the mission drive the business

Eyad: “MFW’s operations and business model go hand in hand with the needs of our target market of underserved women. We trust in our social mission and direct our efforts to reach our social goals, while ensuring we have the financial sustainability to fund 52 branches, over 560 employees, and the development of new products.”

  1. Make client needs the first priority

Eyad: “MFW prides itself in empowering ambitious women in rural areas, and we do that by tailoring our products and services to meet their diverse needs. For instance, women need money to support their families and businesses; MFW provides them with loans. Women need training to improve their business skills; MFW provides non-financial services and free trainings through our Learning Academy. Women need to gradually borrow higher amounts as their business grows; MFW offers small- and micro-enterprise loans. Women need to feel comfortable using financial services; MFW makes them feel at home by locating branches strategically, hiring local staff, and personalizing customer service. Women also need support during family emergencies; MFW provides clients with health insurance. Finally, women’s needs will evolve over time, and MFW is committed to ongoing research and innovation to continue serving our clients in the most effective way possible.”

  1. Incorporate multiple perspectives in strategic planning

Eyad: “In the strategic planning process, the first step is to develop a list of key topics and questions that you would like to address in the coming year(s) by soliciting input from all sides of the institution: management, staff, board, and clients. Bring the branch managers together to provide feedback, as they are most aware of the realities on the ground. It is also important to learn from the experiences of other microfinance institutions and consider local market trends. Once the initial findings have been compiled, and the management team has had the opportunity to review the results individually, conduct a workshop to collectively develop the strategic plan. After obtaining final approval from the board, a key final step is to share the new strategic goals internally, enabling employees across the organization to align their efforts toward a shared vision of the future.”

  1. Maximize employee potential

Eyad: “At MFW, every manager’s task is to get the best out of every employee on his or her team. That means ensuring that every employee, male and female, feels that they have an equal opportunity to prove him- or herself, grow into more senior positions, receive a fair performance evaluation, access adequate and useful training, and receive enough attention from their supervisor.”

  1. Eyad Nino (MFW) with Deputy Executive Director of Lead Foundation (Egypt) Amir NafieCreate a positive organizational culture

Eyad: “To inspire our team to work together towards our mission, MFW focuses on creating a strong and positive organizational culture. Simple things like responding to emails promptly, sharing words of encouragement, practicing good listening skills, and engaging in open dialogue between colleagues make a big difference. Our institution is not a one-man (or woman!) show, even at the top levels of leadership, and we strive to implement human resources policies that reflect the high value we place on our team members.”

  1. Never stop innovating

Eyad: “The best part of my job is driving change through new ways of thinking and new methodologies of work. Joining MFW from a non-microfinance background enabled me to see our operations through a different lens and think creatively about new ways to foster innovation and growth at MFW. It’s important to enjoy coming to work every day and always seek new challenges.”

Women’s World Banking is grateful to have someone like Eyad Nino in our community of practitioners and is thrilled to contribute to his ongoing growth as a leader at MFW. He is currently participating in our Leadership and Diversity for Innovation program, a year-long leadership development program for senior leaders of women-focused financial institutions.