ASA has emerged as one of the largest, cost-effective and financially sustainable MFIs in the world. These success can be attributed to the inherent willingness of all ASA staff to experiment with innovative and simplified management systems.
The following summarizes the key success factors along with the actions/process that contributed to the success in improving efficiencies.
Key success factors Actions/process in each key factors
Clear mission, vision, and principles that guide and motivate Clearly defined and carefully formulated statements of mission, vision and principles as the underpinning of the organization, strategy and programs.
Strong leadership Dynamic leadership with a view to build responsive and competent decision-makers at all levels of the organizations with responsive guidance from the top management.
Capacity to change, innovate and motivate During implementation of micro-finance services, organizations face various problems at different stages. In such cases, policy flexibility and modifications are required.
Feedback from the field for problem identification and possible solutions is guiding principle for taking new policies or modifications.
This flexible policy atmosphere, which allows for continuous improvements and adaptation to new situations, is the core of organizational development and dynamism and this eventually improves the organizational capacity to change, innovate and motivate.
Specialization As an MFI, ASA concentrates only on providing financial services and thereby there is no mission drift to other non-financial services.
Moreover, ASA follows a single loan policy per client in accordance with its policy of specialization.
Targeting financial self-sufficiency with debt fund / capital Gradual decrease on dependency on grants for funds and at the same time leveraging debt funds leads to greater control and autonomy for ASA while leading to cost-effective operation.
Simple organization ASA's simple organizational set-up is represented by its two tier office structure - head / central office and branch office.
Branch office is the centre of providing financial services. This represents ASA as one of the least hierarchical organization in the world.
Decentralized and standardized guided operation All sorts of administrative and program policies are documented in details in a working manual, which are kept at each field office and with each ASA staff.
All approvals in this manual are deemed as authorized requiring no permission from the higher authority. This essentially delegates administrative and program related decision-making power to the field office.
Simplified, understandable and transparent operational procedures Simple and easily understandable methods in all aspects makes ASA operation a transparent one. Some examples are:
Client selection and loan processing is simplified with nominal paper work, focusing mainly on informal analysis through practical observation.
ASA follows a totally non-conventional and self-maintained accounting system and MIS with less paper work.
All formats are self-explanatory and designed to provide at-a-glance overview.
Simplicity and transparency is also ensured through the provision of working manual which clearly states all sorts of administrative discipline, job responsibility and approval levels along with the interpretation of policies, guidelines and procedures at all levels.
Cost-effective management Expenditure at a branch level is structured and standardized with a cost ceiling for all expenditure. The ceilings are stated in the manual that is updated every year.
Branch office is used as an office-cum-residence which leads to collective utilization of resources and doing away with the need for a guard. No secretarial staff are required in the field office leading to an assistant-less mid-level management.
Simplified and self-maintained accounting and MIS systems leads to effective monitoring without the need for an accountant or MIS personnel.
Effective organizational management that relate to: Effective decision-making.
Reduce decision errors through minimal decision load on less experienced staff, this is achieved by relying on simplified and standardized service, administrative and accounting procedures. Quick, and close to field, problem solving. As its capital includes a large share of borrowed money rather than grants, ASA's decision-making becomes self guided rather than guided by the donors.
Managing organizational and staff learning.
Minimal information analysis is needed in the field and there is a limited needs of complex institutional development skills. Guided decision-making is based on a manual supplemented by an officer's presence in the field.
Management of resource acquisition.
Tapping existing non-political institutional resources and alternative resources other than grants. Due to decentralization, field level managers can transfer fund from surplus to deficit areas in order to ensure efficient fund utilization.
Management of organizational development.
Absence of complex group development and a policy of "Start simple and grow" causes ASA to manage its internal development effectively. ASA also follows a market competitive staff incentive policy.
Innovative middle management As ASA follows a two-tier office set-up, middle management in ASA is office less, residing in a middle unit in their jurisdiction.
Instead of working with documents in the office, they supervise, checks, monitor and guides operation by visiting field units.
Decentralized and simplified staff recruitment procedures and short duration on-the-job staff training Staff recruitment process is decentralized at the field. Staff selection process focuses on mediocre qualifications but potential for rigorous fieldwork.
No written examination are taken for hiring, rather potential employees undergo group interview by judging physical fitness, presentation, quick and appropriate response, attentiveness etc.
Newly recruited staff undergoing a 1-month long on-the-job training at the field office. Each new staff is assigned with an old loan officer for hands-on experience.
Adequate MIS to trace key performance indicators and help manage operations Simple and informative monthly MIS reports, that are received on time, is ready for top management within third week of the month.
Rigorous monitoring from the upper level As ASA's branch is the only center for providing its services, rest of the management is closely involved in monitoring side by side with implementation.