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GaëtanDebuchy: Driving MSME’s Growth with Innovations and Technology

Mr. GaëtanDebuchy is the Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank. He has 20 years professional experience (20 years) in Retail Banking, Microfinance and Mobile money. He is a specialist in financial inclusion and he has worked for 8 years in Africa (Senegal and Nigeria).
In Senegal, Debuchy pioneered for SocieteGenerale, a new affiliate (Manko) which is dedicated to people who are un-banked, he was the CEO of Manko for 7 years. He was also the CEO of Yup Senegal, the mobile money SocieteGenerale affiliate.

Gaëtan has high interest for innovation and digitalization. In Manko all the processes were digitalized (account opening, loan appraisal and recovery). A link between the Manko account and the Yup account was set up to facilitate the repayment and attract more savings.
He joined Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank Nigeria as the MD/CEO in August 2019 to innovate and transform the bank digitally following the national license approval.

What is the mission and vision of your company?
Our Vision is to ultimately be the model financial institution that promotes private sector-led economic and social development in Nigeria. While our mission is to provide client-centric financial services to micro, small and medium enterprises and under-served populations in a sustainable and responsible manner.

This, we have been able to achieve with over 70,000 clients being served and about N14.5 billion already disbursed in 9 years of existence. As we continue our network expansion drive, we plan to open more branches and establish our footprints in more States in Nigeria to serve more clients effectively, and have a more positive impact on businesses. We are currently in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Kwara, Anambra and Abia states with 28 branches.
No doubt, MSMEs are the backbone of any developing economy including Nigeria, as well as important contributors to employment, and economic and export growth.

According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), MSMEs in Nigeria have contributed about 48% of the national GDP in the last five years. With a total number of about 17.4 million, they account for about 50% of industrial jobs and nearly 90% of the manufacturing sector, in terms of the number of enterprises. In view of this, Advans Nigeria will continue to promote all legal businesses not registered on our exclusion list (i.e. businesses that involve harmful or exploitative forms of forced labour and likewise production or trade in any product or activity deemed illegal under Nigerian laws or regulations or international conventions and agreements.

What are those business strategies put in place for the growth and development of the company?
As part of our business strategy for growth and expansion, Advans Nigeria will focus on harnessing the full potential of the market, to position the bank as the preferred financial partner of businesses in Nigeria. We have identified 3 key strategic pillars to support this ambition, which are;

The sustenance of our transformation into a client-centric microfinance bank in Nigeria. Client Centricity has been integrated into our entire ecosystem of clients, employees, suppliers (including partners), shareholders and the communities that we serve. Our clients are at the heart of our business strategy, decision-making, processes and operations. In recognition of our customer-centric credentials in product development, service delivery and brand management, we have won several awards as the most customer-centric microfinance bank both locally and internationally.

The development of products to answer the personal finance needs of our clients and their families, in particular, education and insurance. We recently launched Advans School Boost, AdvansEduloan and Advans Kiddies. These are education loans aimed to provide funding support to school owners and parents. We also rolled out a new micro-health insurance product called AdvansMalacare and Advans Medic, aimed at facilitating financial inclusion through insurance offerings. The product ensures that our clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services.

Another innovative product we launched is Advans 48 for business owners to can assess loans of up to N750,000 in 48 hours. We have also improved the interest rates on our savings product. Our savings packages attract one of the highest interests in the industry where depositors can earn as high as 14% on their deposit.

Also, the deployment of alternative delivery channels such as Advans USSD, Adspire by Advans, Advans POS, Mobile Teller, Agency Banking and Debit Card to offer proximity and convenience to our clients.

Finally, we have commenced the digitalization of our processes and products, to improve efficiency and client experience. With ADVANS RELOAD our clients can renew their loans automatically. With ADSPIRE by Advans, you can open a saving account fully digitally and have access to AdvansInstanta loan – our new digital loan offer. Thanks to these innovations, and with a reinforced brand identity, we can continue to grow together with our clients.

Can you tell us more about the inaugural English Essay Competition for primary and secondary students?
The maiden edition of the Advans Essay competition was borne out of the bank’s commitment to stimulate imaginative thinking, harness the creativity and energy of school children, and inspire society. We also look forward to utilizing this creative exercise to develop effective writing skills and foster mutual bonds among the students and their teachers across secondary schools in the country.

Participants are expected to write on the topic: My Favourite Teacher. This is a non-fictional writing contest designed to push the frontiers of academic excellence among young students which is also part of the bank’s commitment to the educational sector in Nigeria.

Asides from cash prizes to be won in the Advans Essay competition, there would be educational materials and several consolation prizes. Asides from using the platform to introduce children to financial education early in life, we also want to introduce our Kiddies Savings account to them, a high-yield savings of up to 6% for children below 18 years. The product was ideated for parents and guardians to save for the future of their children and wards while still earning a monetary return.

What steps has Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank taken to reach the unbanked in Nigeria?
For us at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, this is a crucial subject. In a recent client survey, found out that 45 per cent of our new clients are from the unbanked.

As part of our strategy to reach out to the unbanked more effectively, we introduced a product called Advans 48 – a quick loan from N100,000 to N750,000 in less than 48 hours to address the pain point for many people in the middle and lower economic class, particularly the underserved to grow their businesses.

In addition, we also reached out to the unbanked in Nigeria through our mobile banking app – ADSPIRE by ADVANS; Agent banking and continuous branch network expansion. We are working towards providing an offering for the agricultural sector in the rural settlements as well as developing new products for the rural sector, where we have more of the unbanked.

How do you manage feedbacks and complaints from your customers?
At Advans Nigeria, we place empathy and agility at the heart of all our strategies relating to client-business relationships. We have always made use of insights garnered from our periodic client satisfaction and feedback surveys, focus group discussions and other fora to identify clients’ concerns and adjust where necessary to meet their needs.

Furthermore, and in recognition of our customer-centric credentials in product development, service delivery and brand management, we have emerged winners of various awards locally and internationally. This further validates our innovative client-centric approach drawn from client feedback, to provide seamless, affordable and transparent financial services.

Where do we see Advans MFB in a few years as regards its portfolio expansion?
This year we have opened several new branches, we started our operation in the South-East with 2 branches in Onitsha and 1 branch in Aba and are working towards finishing the year with an N18 billion loan portfolio and N6 billion savings deposit portfolio. We also expect to have 800 workers and 30 branches at the end of this year.

As we continue to grow in the loan portfolio, total deposit and active clients, we are certain that we would have extended our footprints to other regions of the country by the end of 2025. Our expansion drive will be in tandem with the Central Bank of Nigeria- Nigerian National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) to achieve a 95% financial inclusion target by 2024.

On network expansion, our plan, since 2021 is to open about 7 to 12 branches annually. I can tell you that we have a strong expansion plan, a strong group, and a strong workforce. We will keep expanding in a sustainable manner. We must keep growing and at the same time, continue to maintain strong KPIs.