Traditional susu collectors have expressed worry they will be forced out of business by the new operating rules and guidelines introduced by the Bank of Ghana.
They say the new licensing requirements for the microfinance sub-sector, coupled with mounting competition with other financial institutions threaten the susu business.
Activities of individual susu collectors and enterprises fall under the fourth tier of the new Bank of Ghana licensing regime, which takes effect from January 2012.
According to the new rules, there shall be no minimum capital requirement for operators. But participants at a forum on the new operating rules in Kumasi are not enthused with a 500 Ghana Cedi licensing fee and restrictions on geographical geographical areas within which they can operate.
The guidelines state that “operators shall carry out their activities within a defined geographical area such as a town, city, a market or a suburb and shall not operate branches, except with the prior written approval of the Bank of Ghana”.
The susu collectors however argue that their traditional activity of “hawking” from place to place to serve dispersed clients will be curtailed by the directive.
President of the Ghana Cooperative Susu Collectors Association (GCSCA), Emmanuel Aboagye-Manu, has allayed the fears of members.
He says the Association is in talks with the Bank of Ghana to ensure the susu business thrive, stating that “we’ve petitioned Bank of Ghana to allow the Association to do the licensing on their behalf; we know our members, we know what they want, we know where they are.”
Traditional susu collectors have in years past provided an informal means for Ghanaians to save and access credit, mostly serving low-income earners.
The industry has however been fraught with fraud and other illegalities.
Until the new Bank of Ghana regulations, the GCSCA was pushing for a legal framework to integrate traditional susu.
Mr. Aboagye-Manu is hoping the new guidelines will strengthen the Association’s position as an apex body to supervise susu activities and to flush out unscrupulous and unregistered operators.
He expects traditional susu collectors to build on the trust reposed in them by clients to redesign and repackage products to survive competition from other financial intermediaries.
Fidelity Bank is already partnering the Association in the roll out of a mobile technology to ease susu collection and offer other opportunities to operators.
The German Development Cooperation (giz) is also supporting the technical capacity building of GCSCA to meet the requirements of the Central Bank.