Due Diligence and Safeguarding – the foundation to effective partnerships

Deki provides micro-finance for first time borrowers, who otherwise would have no access to financial services, which unfortunately can be risky. Deki’s due diligence and safeguarding processes are in place to mitigate risks as much as we can. We aim to partner with organisations who have experience of working with these beneficiary groups, and share the same vision and mission with Deki – to help people lift themselves out of poverty for good.

Loan repayment book

Loan repayment book

Our recent review of how we work with Field Partners has been interesting. We all know that things don’t always go to plan, and we also know that field partners find certain things hard to report to us. They don’t want to let us or you, the Deki Lenders down. A good example of when this has happened in the past is low repayments during the summer months, just before harvest. Field Partners didn’t feel able to explain the problem to us. Through our new monitoring processes, we identified this as a trend, and picked this up with the field partner. We talked it through with them and once we were able to understand the problem, we introduced a lending pause to give them time to focus on collecting repayments. This is just one instance of an issue that has been picked up by our new monitoring processes. Since we started our review last year, we have focused on developing strong partnerships, and learning what support our field partners need to succeed.

Here are some of the changes we have put in place, and some that are in progress:

  • In November 2017 we implemented a monthly audit, focused on loan disbursal and repayments, so we could understand how quickly loans got to our entrepreneurs.

  • In January 2018 we implemented new quarterly partnership meetings and reporting. Giving us a chance to discuss training provided to Deki entrepreneurs and performance in the last quarter.

  • In Spring 2018 we implemented a new online Field Partner application process.

  • From March 2019, we will be visiting field partners as part of their induction.

  • And from April 2019, we will be providing new partners online resources which include data collection guidance, policy and processes template documents and guides to the online banking and documenting tools.

  • To ensure long lasting and strong partnerships, we will visit them twice a year. On these visits we will evaluate their impact monitoring and meet the entrepreneurs you support.

Field officer capturing loan data

Field officer capturing loan data

As part of our new application process, we have improved our due diligence, to ensure greater protection of your funds. Using benchmarks in microfinance programme performance, Deki assesses a partner’s financial stability and their capacity to grow sustainably. We then evaluate their entire beneficiary support process, from identification, business training and social support to loan disbursement, repayment collection and completion of each loan. Deki maps out how their risk register, policies and processes are applied, to safeguard both the communities they work with and Deki’s lenders’ funds. This due diligence process shows how a Deki partnership will support the intended communities, what risks will be present and how they will be reduced and managed.      

When a new partner successfully completes all three stages of the application process, and before we send new loans, we visit our new partner to see their operation in action and take partners through how to use the Deki monitoring processes. These first few weeks of the partnership help build a trusting relationship, and establish a foundation based on our common goal of providing opportunity to marginalised communities. We also check that Deki entrepreneurs are given the right information, and the right support from the very beginning of their loan with Deki.

All Deki partners’ performance is monitored and measured, which helps us check that the right risk management processes are in place, and to assess what support Partners need.  Partners will have a probation period, allowing time to get systems in place to meet our seven performance measures:

  1. Timely collection of due repayments and monitoring current arrears levels.

  2. Monthly audit checks on loan records, in particular checking loan disbursal and repayment collection receipts.

  3. Collection of impact data, at four stages in the Deki entrepreneur’s loan cycle.

  4. Quarterly meetings via Skype and producing partnership reports, detailing the support provided for Deki entrepreneurs and also training provided to field officers, to help them do their job.

  5. Repayment of funds collected on behalf of Deki, and repaid to Deki within one calendar month.

  6. Responding to all Deki communications within 4 working days.

  7. Ensuring that all Deki entrepreneurs put forward for Deki loans meet our beneficiary criteria  -  those who are financially excluded; those who are most marginalised, including people with disabilities, orphans, women, etc.

Micro-finance is risky by nature. But if we have a strong relationship with our partners, good monitoring processes, and due diligence, we can provide them with the right support to deliver loans, support and training to our entrepreneurs. So together we can work towards a world full of opportunity, not poverty.