- June 13, 2018
Setting the foundation for the future
After 3 years, we have established strong and reliable agent networks in Senegal and Madagascar, launched an agent network in Ivory Coast, and now it’s time to build on the next levels. Since November 2016 we have piloted a “dedicated agent” model with the objective to improve the quality of service provided by Baobab agents and extend service to new areas with potential clients.
Augmenting customer service and financial options in remote areas
Baobab branch staff recruit and train dedicated agents and then provide specially branded Baobab kiosks located in semi-rural areas where Baobab sees growth potential. Each kiosk is at least 3km or more from the nearest Baobab branch. The agents are generally young entrepreneurs motivated to manage their own business and well-known and trusted in their village or town. Once selected, dedicated agents spend a week in the Baobab branch getting to know the business and staff – especially the portfolio managers with whom they will work closely in the future.
The goal is that these kiosks and agents will become a service outpost for remote Baobab clients. Clients will be able to deposit money, make withdrawals, open a Baobab account, request a loan, check their account balance, pay bills, obtain nano-loans and transfer money. To enable this, Baobab has developed various innovative processes to reinforce the Baobab agents.
PULSE and Baobab To Loan
PULSE is Baobab’s remote account opening application. It allows dedicated agents to open accounts for new clients on the spot and within 5 minutes. Through the application, the dedicated agent collects the client’s information from their ID card and even the client’s fingerprints through a biometric device connected to the application. Once the information is collected, staff at the branch verify the KYC and confirm the account. To complement PULSE, a process called Baobab To Loan has been developed, initially in Senegal. The agents access and complete an online survey to collect information from a potential borrower.
The survey results are sent to the call center and the client is contacted to confirm their loan request. Then the call center submits the request to the local branch, where the portfolio managers follow-up with the potential client.
By the end of December 2017, these agents helped their partner Baobab branches obtain a total of 835 new loan clients. In 2018, Baobab is working on expanding this strategy in Senegal and exporting it to the networks in Madagascar and Ivory Coast.