For two decades and counting, Accion portfolio company Socremo has been serving entrepreneurs in Mozambique. Since its founding in 1998, it has become a microfinance bank offering a full suite of financial services, including loans, savings, transfers, and insurance. For many of its clients, Socremo is the first bank they’ve had, so the staff takes extra care to stay in close touch with clients and make sure they stay on top of their finances.
Fatima, Socremo’s compliance manager, has been with the bank from its earliest days. She gets to the office every day at 7 am, and immediately starts responding to email messages. “I see if the clients need any help, and then take them through the correct procedures,” she explains. Fatima takes great satisfaction in having seen her clients’ businesses grow over the years. As she says, “Some people have started with very little money, and now have huge amounts that they can use to help their families and build homes and ultimately improve the country — because our country’s economy will grow.”
Another Socremo employee, Claudia, is in her first job after finishing school. As a loan officer, she also communicates often with clients. She keeps track of their payments. “Sometimes I use WhatsApp for reminders, but most of the time I phone them directly,” she says. “I see how they are doing and how it’s working out,” she adds. “[It’s] teaching me to make wise decisions myself. I learn from their example,” she says.
On the other end, Socremo’s clients learn to appreciate the interest the staff takes in their progress and well-being. Joaquim, a garment manufacturer, recalls that when he first heard of Socremo, he was hesitant about whether taking out a loan was right for his business. After the bank got in touch with him and invited him to visit, he did decide to take out a loan — the first of several. He says, “I think they are a great bank, and I know I am only where I am now because of Socremo.”
Other clients describe their relationship to the bank in family terms. Jose, who has a construction and transport business, says, “With Socremo you feel at home. They take care of us.” Likewise, Palomisa, a beverage producer, says, “I used to be scared to get a loan with a bank, but since I started with Socremo, I never regretted it. They are like a family. They’re like a mother and father — they help you.”
24-year-old Claudia certainly sounds like a proud parent when she speaks of her clients’ successes. “I’m helping people and their families to grow and make their dreams come true,” she says.