Buoyed by its slogan of being a responsive microfinance institution, Hakika Microfinance Bank has in the past two months of its existence in Arusha, seen 345 customers subscribing to its products which include Star Saving Account, Hakika Savings Account and Bidii Saving Account.
"This manifests the high demand of microfinance services to a region like Arusha, in just two months we have surpassed our expectations, we have hit the ground running," said Augustine Ntomola, Chief Executive Officer with Hakika Microfinance Bank.
Initially, the microfinance bank which graduated from Arusha Club Savings and credit cooperative society (Saccos) of individual Tanzanian entrepreneurs with a view of availing banking services and products, targeted marginalised communities.
But contrary to its expectations, the surge in the number of new customers has seen the bank grow rapidly, clear testimony that microfinance services in the country are in big demand.
"Unfortunately, low income earners are often ignored by big financial institutions and gave us an opportunity to capitalize on that segment," said Ntomola.
While the process of opening a bank account is often cumbersome, at Hakika that’s not the case because of use of a biometric system.
From the day one opens an account with the bank, to when they do any withdrawal of cash, the biometric system is often less bureaucratic and cost effective way of banking.
"We are the only microfinance institution in the country that uses the system, you don't have to fill in any forms or avail your identity card when making transactions,” said the CEO.
Having started with an initial capital of 5bn/- as required by Bank of Tanzania regulations, Hakika Microfinance Bank expects to expand its services to other districts of Arusha region.
This doesn't mean that the microfinance bank will put up physical structures in the other districts but rather partner with mobile phone companies the country to extend such services to remote groups.
"Our aim is to save our esteemed customers the hustles and bustles of travelling from remote areas to withdraw their money,” Ntomola noted.
By the click of the buttons on their mobile phones, they will be able to access their money wherever they are, he noted.
Asked when will his bank put up its first automated teller machine (ATM) system, Ntomola dismissed the idea arguing that it is an old way of banking. The CEO also reveals his bank's plans of introducing Money Gram and Western Union money transfer services.
"We have every reason to smile because in less than three months we have been able to conquer the market and have given other financial institutions in Arusha, a run for their money," boasts Ntomola.
Gauging the bank's short time existence in the region and the success made, Zakayo Mphuru, an Operations Manager with Hakika Microfinance Bank said their target is register 1,500 direct costumers and another 3,000 this year.
This would entail people from all walks life, including miners, tour operators, farmers and pastoralists.
Mphuru stresses that it is cheaper, easier and more rewarding to run an account at Hakika more than any other microfinance bank in the region.
"For instance, somebody wishing to open a Star Saving account will have to deposit a minimum opening balance of 10, 000/- where 5,000/- serves as minimum operating balance with absolutely no monthly service charges like it is the case with other conventional banks," said Mphuru.
The same applies with Bidii Saving Account, an account that targets business community in urban and rural areas.
According to Mphuru, the Microfinance Bank offers a wide range of loan products to suite an ordinary Tanzanian.
"Banking with Hakika one is not only assured the safety of his money but also 12 different types of life changing loans," he said.