About Imperial Trust
IT is a Ghanaian non-profit organisation incorporated as a company limited by guarantee with the aim of pioneering ethical micro-finance in Ghana. The organisation is headquartered in Accra, and currently operates in poor; urban, peri-urban, and rural communities in Greater Accra and Central Regions of Ghana.
The policy of IT emphasises the extension of small working capital and micro start-up loans ranging from GHS50 ($25) to GHS1500 ($750), to petty traders, head pan traders, table top businesses, hawkers, small store/shop operators, market women, amongst others that are unbanked/under-banked and have limited or no access to credit from commercial banks and other formal financial institutions due to lack of assets to use as collateral in particular, and the informal nature of their activities. IT’s concern is to meet the working capital needs of the poor, marginalised and vulnerable groups, particularly women within this defined population. We are committed to serving women in particular not just because informal commerce in the country is predominately controlled by women, but more importantly because women are considered to be a great source of meeting family needs, serious, reliable, and honest. It is generally accepted, at least in the Ghanaian context, that women are more likely to advance the needs of their children, including spending their increased income on health care and education for their families.
The coming into being of IT was induced by some disturbing phenomenon in the micro-finance industry. While the plethora of Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) in the country have served to help bridge the informal micro enterprise sector lending gap created by the failure of commercial banks to lend to the sector, the lending practices and approaches of some of these MFIs, which incorporate usurious APR ranging between 80% -120%, prohibitive collateral and covenants, draconian deposit requirement, and daily/weekly collection system, have rendered most poor borrowers sliding back into their original state or becoming worse off once they redeem their debt.
Most poor borrowers have now become ‘captive’ dependant clients of some micro-finance providers simply because the lending practices of the lenders deprive them of making the necessary savings needed to make them wean themselves of the lenders and become independent. Some MFIs even take the hard earned savings of prospective and extant poor borrowers without lending to them, and do not refund to them their savings either. The above phenomenon has thus compounded the cycle of poverty of most poor borrowers.
WIT therefore came into the industry with the agenda of helping break the manner with which some players have capitalised on the desperation of vulnerable poor traders for working capital to exploit them. Our goal of helping the poor, vulnerable and marginalised, particularly women traders break the cycle of exploitive, extortionate lending is to contribute to the generation of economic growth in a way that creates sustainable, long-term, permanent reduction in poverty and improve their economic state.
As an advocate for the economic well-being of vulnerable, marginalised particularly women, IT also considers it as demonstrating investment to positive effect by deploying resources to helping to address one of the development challenges of our time: energy poverty – the lack of access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable clean cooking fuels and equipment – the consequences of which affect mostly women and children. Women and children are noted to suffer most from the consequence of indoor air pollution – respiratory and lung infections – due to the reliance on biomass for cooking. We help to address this challenge by educating women about the dangers of inefficient firewood and other biomass cooking systems, and advancing loans to them to procure efficient cooking stoves and gas cylinders.
The philosophical stance of WIT as a non-profit financial institution is rooted in the idea that the poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth agenda of the country can best be fostered when it is made easier, affordable, and convenient for marginalised and vulnerable groups, particularly Women; who virtually dominate the leading economic sector of the country (the informal sector) and are a great source of family livelihood, to access micro working capital credit or very small start-up loans.
This is our raison d´être. We concentrate on this direction to set the standards in order not to lose our soul – pursuing social good and not corporate greed.
Values / Culture
The organisation is identified, defined, and guided by TTRRAAEEC, the nine core values/culture:
- Trust – the trait of believing in the honesty and reliability of clients and staff. Trust is the key tool for the development of relationships.
- Team Work – Leadership is shared by WIT and its beneficiaries and there is the motivation to complete task at hand collectively
- Respect – recognising and respecting diversity of people and ideas. Always treating people with respect and dignity.
- Reliability/dependability– doing things in time for beneficiaries to address their needs promptly. Being a reliable/dependable source of credit for the poor substantially reduces financial uncertainty and permits them to spend more time running their businesses and less time worrying about adequate working capital funding.
- Agility – responsiveness to the finance needs of clients with speed and flexibility.
- Affordability – our intent is non-profit. But our unique offerings, delivered by competent, compassionate professionals, are provided at fair but sub-market rates mainly to cover operating expenses, maintain continuity of operations, and expand reach.
- Ethical/integrity – having an open, honest, and ethical approach in everything we do.
- Excellence – non-profit does not equal non-performance. We are committed to the highest standards.
- Collaboration– working with partners to achieve shared aims.