Margareth Chacha, Managing Director, Tanzania Women’s Bank Ltd.

Words of Wisdom: “Remove the fear, bring out your confidence, you are strong. You must make others believe in you by believing in yourself.” – Margareth Chacha

Interview ith Margareth Mataba Chacha, Managing Director, Tanzania Women’s Bank Ltd.

Margareth Mataba Chacha, Managing Director, Tanzania Women’s Bank Ltd.

Ms. Margareth Mataba Chacha  is the Managing Director of the Tanzania Women’s Bank Ltd. Possess over 28 years experience in senior managerial positions including Operation’s Manager – UNDP Tanzania, Budget Officer – UN Mission Sudan, Director of Banking – CRDB Bank and Compliance Manager – NPF (NSSF). Margareth is a  member of Global Women Banks Association, President of Women in Agri-Business in Sub Sahara Africa Alliance (WASAA).

Margareth is a women of many firsts:

  • Managed to establish e-banking and promoted the first ATM services in the Tanzania
  • Was the first local staff (a woman) to be recruited as Operations Manager for UNDP Tanzania office.
  • Was among the first 100 staff to establish UN Office in Sudan (UNMIS) approving funds an International staff in the budget unit.
  • The first lady to establish a new bank in the Tanzania.

Tanzania Women’s Bank Ltd.:

Margareth Mattaba Chacha, Managing Director, Tanzania Women’s Bank Ltd.

Note: The key messages in the interview have been transcribed and slightly altered for legibility and succinctness. More information is provided in the audio and video version. We welcome comments on the Wisdom Exchange TV website.

What was the Catalyst for starting the Tanzanian Women’s Bank?

Tanzania was a socialist country, and the government was planning everything for the people. When we open our doors to the world, everyone was struggling and needing to produce.  Women where in an interesting place. Because no longer is the government planning, you have men planning for women. Women are starting to realize they need to put a roof over their families head, feed their family, take their family to the hospital and educate their children. They don’t want to depend on a man anymore, but now they are struggling to produce because they couldn’t get access to more money.

At the time, women did not have the required profile to open a bank account. They didn’t have money and they couldn’t get a loan because they did not have any capital. Women decided enough is enough and they went to see the President and demanded they open a bank to meet their needs. We are lucky the President agreed. The government also issued seed capital to have the bank opened. Together is power.

What is the bank’s approach when an individual doesn’t have collateral and they want a loan?

Tanzania Women’s Bank is a need-based bank. When we first started we had meetings with women and we asked them what makes them think that they can’t have access banking facilities? They said:

  1. They didn’t understand the papers. The first enemy is education. Many of the banks have their papers in English. Soon as the women get the papers they run away because they are intimidated because of their lack of understanding of the English language.
  2. They don’t have the networking. Most of the banks ask for references, and African women who stay at home do not know anyone in the market.
  3. It is too expensive. It would cost $100, which was too much money for the women to open an account.

Women don’t have access to assets. They have to wait to get everything from their husbands and it becomes a viscous circle.

So we became creative to work with these women.

  1. Regarding education, we created a one-page document that was very simple to understand and created it in English and Swahili.
  2. We allowed those who were illiterate to sign with their thumb.
  3. We requested minimum requirements for them to open an account. Example, we know women are good voters; we don’t have standard ID for the Tanzania so it is difficult to identify customers in the banking industry. So we decided since women are good voters we accepting voter ID to open an account. We know that men and women are often unemployed, so we ask for an employment note and they need to be 18 yrs. old to open an account. We open an average 50 accounts a day. We have made it easy to open account.
  4. Most women are in the informal sector, so we allowed informal groups to open an account. Registered, or not registered you can open accounts. We as a bank assist in getting them set up with tax paying document before we give them loans. So we have helped so many women.
  5. In regards to collateral, if we are serious about empowering women we decided to run two banks in one. We have commercial banking and we have micro financing.  We help the smallest business. Many banks are not taking them because they are so small, they don’t even have premises, nor do they have any capital. They are high risk. We believe if we really want to empower women we need to recognize these groups. We use peer pressure groups. The micro finance model in contributing more than 35% to the banks income, more than any other product. Now we are moving further toward micro finance. That is where we are meeting the segment we are looking for.

The banking hall is almost full everyday.

What is the default rate?

The repayment is very encouraging – 96% repayment.

If the group repays is the group allowed a larger loan?

  1. We are creative, we get women to group themselves in five, within a group of forty, if they don’t appear on that day to repay the loan the other four contribute for her. If the amount is too large, then forty people will contribute for that person.  They are the ones that are going to recover the money from that person. This way the bank is actually not involved. They are very happy about that.
  2. Since we started we were giving 200 000 Tanzanian shilling ($150 US), up to $1,500US – 2 000 000TZS. Some have done so well that when they returned they wanted more. We went to the Board and now we are able to provide up to 5,000,000 TZS – $4,000 US. We have so many success stories.

What has been the biggest challenge growing the bank?

Getting capital. I have been banking industry for a very long time and this is the first time I have seen a bank overwhelmed by demand. We are opening so many accounts, we need to have more outlets, but we can’t because we need more capital. I would love to open ten branches in a month. Since we are dealing with so many numbers, the more we pack people into these premises is going to negate our effort. We are popular and trusted.

How are you going to overcome that challenge of raising capital?

Firstly the Government promised that they will give us 2billion each year, they gave it to us 2010 and there is a delay in 2011. Instead of waiting for the Government we need to sell shares especially to women. We consulted the authorities if we can legally sell shares to the market. We want to sell 20mill TZS of shares and that will allow us to be a full commercial bank.

I would imagine that it is a pretty compelling offer, because not only is 35% of your profits helping people at the grassroots, but the investors are changing the landscape of Tanzania.

It also affects the family, as a Managing Director, I would be very happy if I could invest 10 billion. I would sleep very peacefully. If you were to give 10 billion to families on welfare, it would only affect those people and their family. If I was to give it to six thousand women, now multiply that by the average family size of six. How many people are you touching? How many people are you curing? How many children are able to go to school?

In Tanzania we have more women then men. We say when you empower women you are empowering the Nation.

Women are contributing to the country economy. They were being left behind, but we are looking into the future. We want the women segment to be empowered.

Is there any other challenges that you have had to get the bank to this point, besides capital?

  • The ownership of assets. When you talk about commercial banking, we get so many coming to us for loans and these women cannot give collateral that the central bank requires. They fail to get their families to give them collateral even though they contribute to building the family houses.
  • Another challenge is the mindset. Women are still fearful of coming forward to ask for money, so we train to provide them insight, which helps them with gaining courage. This has been providing a good result. As I analyze our statistics the women that are trained are doing very well. They need the information because their network is limited.
  • We are also accepting a plot of land that is not developed as collateral. Many women can afford the land, but not afford to build on it. Many banks would not accept this as collateral.
  • We also accept land that is not yet titled. We accept the contract of the sales. This makes it easier for women to access loan facilities.
  • We also accept Government license deed. There are title deed, contract and license when purchase land and we accept all three.

Say I have a good business idea, but have nothing no collateral, no deed – nothing to offer, what would happen in that situation?

  1. I would introduce you to our group lending, which is micro financing.
  2. Then I would ask you to go to your family and ask for land. It is a central bank requirement, so we can’t change it.  We need to see that you are committed and bring back the money.
  3. You could apply to get special funds; that would provide you insurance. Even then the good ideas will get support because it is free from central bank requirements.

The establishment of the bank has been since 1999, since then is there anything that you would have done differently to help launch the bank?

Yes, I would have mobilized shares in different way. I would not have relied on the Government. I would have sold shares to able people and companies instead.  Instead of running short of capital I could go back to and ask investors for more. It is much more difficult to ask the Government and it is retarding our growth. I can’t go back, as my hands are now tied.

You have been in banking for quite some time, I read somewhere that you said men were passing you and your career was stagnating. Tell us if you notice change for progressive women like you and if yes, how has it changed?

Yes it has changed. There are many more women coming up being trusted to manage big business. It was not easy in the past, not only was finance a man’s field, but women did not have the capacity. Now that has changed. When you go to the street you will now see more women driving which wasn’t the case. Women are proven to be very affective with tasks; they want to see the results. Women are not motivated by the ‘big titles’ – they were made for men. Women are motivated by results.

In 1998 when I was employed in a bank I was promised that after two years I would be a manager, but it took seven years. But to my disappointment, men who joined the bank with me were given managerial posts before me. I did not give up, in 1993 that is when I was given Managerial post and was given the challenge to open a new branch, which I was able to prove myself as that process when very well.

You have 52 people working for you, what are some of the leadership challenges you have with that many employees?

I use to manage many more people this is actually a small group. When we opened this bank, as I mentioned, we did not have enough funds so not only was I the Director, but I also was the Branch Manager. I was managing 16 people. I was managing absolutely everything and everyone. Because of the skills I had I was able to support the bank teller or the computer challenges.

What are some of the techniques used to empower your employees to be effective?

  1. I delegate. I don’t like micromanaging people. I give them a challenge and I want to see the potential in them.
  2. I encourage people to come to me with problems and solutions. I don’t like giving solutions even when I have one.

When someone starts working with the bank, what training or process do you provide to ensure individuals work inline with the values of the bank and are competent at their jobs?

We interview both written and oral tests.

We only call people who pass on written test for the oral process.

  • We need to know that people can write reports.

After recruiting, we give two weeks of training.

  • We train in class, than we have a department orientation. We want our employees to know all functions before they are dedicated to a particular unit. We want them to know all elements of the business.
  • We also ensure our drivers can answer some basic issues such as: “What are the requirements for opening an account?”

When we give a task we allow time to ask questions.

  • We create a buddy program that if someone has challenges they can ask someone.
  • Sometimes I will conduct a one-on-one conversation.
  • I always let people know that they can come to me.
  • When people want support, we encourage them to write an email. If they don’t get a response after the first email, I encourage them to copy me on the second email as well as the third. At that point I will handle it.
  • We need to compete and we have to get things done in a timely manner. My employees know if the email comes to me, the Managing Director, it doesn’t look good and may affect their assessment.

In my experience in shopping in the retail sector in Tanzania is if I ask for something, and the clerk doesn’t know the answer they redirect me to another colleague, rather than get the information for me. It is refreshing that all of your team, even to a driver has context for what the bank does. It is very frustrating when people don’t take ownership for obtaining the required knowledge to help a customer instead put the responsibility onto the customer.

Some organizations promote hierarchy. People will challenge why you have done their work, so people don’t cross over to someone else’s territory or assignment.

I discourage with this approach; this is a very old fashion way to do business. 

When we train we have a value for the bank, you have to be efficient, do it the right the first time. As a customer I don’t want to start afresh every time you ask me to communicate with a colleague without you briefing that person first. This is a one-stop service. You as a customer come to me, I listen to your problem, if I can’t solve it I make an appointment or a promise. The most important thing is to remember the problem and deliver a solution.

We spend a lot of time on how to retain customers, you don’t always have to look for new customers but it is important to retain customers.

What do you feel is the most significant impact you have made in your career to date?

First and foremost is maintaining a level of quality of life at home as a mother and wife. In addition, also managing processes, people and systems which is very important. I have this courage believing that “I can to.” I never thought about “I can’t.”

I have the voice that always telling me “I can.”

When they asked me to open this bank, many of our workers where apprehensive, it is not that they didn’t have capacity or skills, I believe that they didn’t have enough belief in themselves that they can do it.

I actually thought maybe we needed someone outside of our country to open this bank. But I realized that I needed to leave something to my society. I left my big salary (which was double what I am making now), but I decided to leave it as the country has been paying for us to get to here. I believe the skills we have are the same as international candidates as many of us have been educated internationally, but we just don’t have the confidence in ourselves. I wanted to show that I had the confidence to take this on for all other women. I feel I will inspire a lot of other women.

Most women in Africa wait to be spotted, they don’t come forward to say we are here. We have so many abled body women and we are encouraging them to come forward.

What is the most significant decision you made in your career?

I am always looking for a creative way to do things. I don’t do things just because I did it before. I am a risk-taker. I like to do things differently.

I would challenge my staff, what are you going to do to surprise your customers to stick with you?  You have to stay in regulations but be creative within the parameters.

  1. Opening a new branch in my previous bank was a big challenge as no woman had ever done it. Imagine no woman was even allowed to manage a branch, now you are being trusted to open a new branch.
  2. Again, when I was in New UNDP I was first local staff to be recruited from the private sector. I was the first woman to be a correction manager at New UNDP.  When I joined they had a huge portfolio.

What was one of the biggest challenges you had and how have you overcame it?

As a family woman, it would be when I take my Masters in 1995. I left a three year old behind. I said to myself if I want to inspire I needed to be trained. I left my family and my branch. When I came back I instantly got a promotion to be a director for the bank. I got it because I had my Masters. I inspired many women to go for their Masters.

Have you ever implemented an initiative that hasn’t worked? What was it? How did you overcome it? What would you do differently?

A recent example, I wanted to open an off-balance sheet window in the bank. I wanted to have an insurance window at the bank.  But the Board didn’t understand me. To me we are accepting mortgages and other assets and we are looking for social services to cover Insurances and for micro finance (group lenders) we are covering all their loans, it is a lot of money. If we become an agent for insurance we would be able to cover all the assets.  Now if our customers’ insurance expires we call them to come to renew their insurance. If we were the agent for an insurance company, we would just renew it and mitigate risk of loosing the property. If the Board understood what I was trying to do they would have said yes.

What I did is collect data from the market, and show the Board how much income we could gain. I presented to the Board and they were very encouraged. Now I am in the process of creating an off-balance sheet insurance window to cover our loans.

Because we don’t have any other branch, I have created a relationship with Vodacom to ensure my customers can transfer money to the bank.

I brought ATM on-board, I am paying rent so my customers can use it all over the country.

People are using telephone banking. We are office with phone staff that can offer group loans over the phone.

My big challenge:

Are skill-sets of my staff. We are experiencing a huge turnover in the country because new banks are coming in. Training new staff and getting them to the level has been a big challenge. Getting the right skills in the market is difficult to find. I am looking for a Risk Manager, but I can’t find one, and if I do they are very expensive to hire. So what I have decided to do is hire a new person who has the education, and then I will use my funds to train them.

At the same time we have some excellent business leaders in this country and people will work with them all the time any time.  We have this huge contrast between the two.

Edgeness Insight (An enhanced version of yourself discovered when you push the edge of your comfort zone). What is something that you are uncomfortable doing, but you need to continue to do, in order to make you as successful as you are?

As the Managing Director I depend on my team. However, the team should be working for me, I am not working for them. Getting them to reach my expectation as been a challenge so I have decided to train them. The pace is not as fast as I would like it.

How would you define success?

When I obtain and surpass my goals.

What do you think makes a good leader?

A person who can influence people to share your beliefs and dreams and make them come true.

Leadership lessons.

If there was three pieces of advice you can give to a woman who leads a project, initiative or a team what would that be?

  1. Come out of your shell and trust you have the skills, that you can do it.
  2. Believe in yourself is needed before someone believes in you.
  3. To persevere. Don’t be discouraged easily. It is how we handle the situation.

What is next for you?

I have started to prepare myself psychologically that my retirement age is coming. So I am creating a succession plan. I am wishing to convince my God to give me someone who I can start training. We need the right people, attitude and right skills.

I need to teach someone how to manage the politicians since lots of our funding comes from them.

Reflective Realizations

Q. What advice would you give to your 10yr. old daughter?

This is not what I did, but would do now: I would encourage her to exploit the opportunity she has. Don’t let someone choose the coarse for her. I would encourage her to do what she loves the most.

Q. What do you wish you were told at 10 years old?

As a woman I could do it without depending on anyone.

Words of Wisdom for African women

I encourage African ladies to start dreaming for independence. Where the world is going, men are increasingly loosing status as breadwinner. They need to dream to own assets, dream to have a position to make decisions.

Remove the fear, bring out your confidence, you are strong. You must make others believe in you by believing yourself.

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    2 replies to "Margareth Chacha"

    • Cissy

      This is very good for a fellow female, I wish we could chart more as you are my role model today . Thank you God.

    • anne

      Great to see you , you are a role model for many!
      Hasatnet mama! May God continue to Bless our efforts.. We continue to thank HIM.

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