Thursday, July 18, 2024

João Figueiredo: “Our greatest ambition is to be inspired by our customers’ needs”

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Moza Banco, João Figueiredo, in an interview with Profile, makes an in-depth analysis of Moza Banco’s trajectory over the last 16 years.

Looking to the future, Moza Banco continues to innovate and expand its services, reaffirming its commitment to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Mozambique.

Profile Mozambique: How would you describe Moza Banco’s 16-year history?

João Figueiredo: It’s been 16 years of challenges, opportunities, a lot of struggle and dedication, from the time of the bank’s founders to the new management at Moza Banco today. This journey has relied on the great commitment of our shareholders, employees, partners and authorities.

During these 16 years, we have served the Mozambican economy, actively participating in the financial system and helping to strengthen our sector. However, both nationally and internationally, the economic climate has not been the most favorable. Globally, we are facing two major recent phenomena: the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences, and the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, whose repercussions go beyond the borders of the conflicts, impacting the entire world.

In the national context, our economy is also going through very difficult times. We need to focus our efforts on what is essential to us. Moza Banco is committed to boosting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the foundation of any growing economy. To this end, we recently signed an agreement with the Dom Cabral Foundation to train our small business owners, one of the main pillars of development.

In addition, Moza Banco wants to highlight the importance of supporting small and medium-sized businesses and alert society to the multi-sectoral development that is necessary for our progress. The energy sector, with the arrival of gas, is often mentioned, but we believe that our economic model must support various sectors, including tourism and agribusiness. We need to include rural populations in our development, because economic growth does not necessarily mean social inclusion or sustainable development.

This is a wake-up call to continue supporting global and sectoral development, promoting a value chain within the country, reducing imports and increasing exports. One example is the agricultural issue and the need for districts that still don’t have banks, branches or ATMs.

With 16 years of Moza Banco, our project and plan, both short and long term, aim to reach those populations and districts which, despite having economic potential, are still not adequately assisted by the banking sector. We want all stakeholders to collaborate in this effort, fulfilling their responsibilities so that we can continue to bank the country and bring financial services to the most remote areas.

The global growth forecast by the World Bank for this year may not affect us directly, but we have to focus on our national economy. We need to rely less on donations and more on our own production. We have enough resources and potential to be self-sustaining, such as our vast 2,700 km coastline and arable land. We need to focus on the economic development we want, creating more jobs and formalizing the informal economy.

Moza Banco has a motto: “Make it Happen”. We are committed to understanding our customers’ needs and providing products and services that meet those needs, creating a strong and sustainable relationship with them. Our greatest ambition is to be the best bank in terms of quality, not necessarily the biggest in terms of quantity.

The project with the Dom Cabral Foundation is an example of our ongoing commitment to training small business owners. We want this program to last as long as there is a need for training. We will continue to invest in the development of our clients, contributing to a more robust and inclusive economy.

MP: How does Moza Banco position itself in relation to the country’s bankarization and the expansion of banking services to the most remote areas? Is this a project that should be taken on at national level?

JF: As agents of the economy and the financial system, we need to work together with the state. Moza Banco has embraced the state’s project in the “One District, One Bank” program. However, this program is facing delays in its budget and pace of implementation, and not because of the banks. The banks are fulfilling their role, but it is essential that all stakeholders collaborate. The financial system cannot be solely responsible, the state also needs to participate actively.

We understand that the state is facing various difficulties, but this is a sacrifice that must be shared. It’s not enough for banks alone to make the effort to reach rural areas, everyone involved must be committed. Despite the challenges, banks have already opened many branches in rural areas.

Even in times of great difficulty, such as in 2016, when Moza Banco faced a crisis, we managed to open two branches in rural areas. Today, fortunately, we have overcome that difficult phase, but we remain committed to the “One District, One Bank” program. We were one of the banks that joined this program the most, but it is crucial that all those responsible are aligned and meet their obligations.

We believe that there are conditions to continue with this program if all stakeholders are on the same page. Recently, the World Bank predicted growth in the world economy from 2.4% to 2.6% this year. However, we must focus on our own economy and work together to promote inclusive and sustainable development.

PM: According to this reading from the World Bank, what impact can be expected on the economy and directly on the lives of Mozambicans?

JF: Global growth won’t affect us if we can’t concentrate and focus on our national economy. We need to live with the support of our partners, but we must focus on national production. If we don’t, we’ll continue to depend on donations and foreign aid, and that’s not what we want. We want to leave our children and future generations a sustainable country, capable of supporting itself.

We have enough resources to achieve this independence. We have, for example, the possibility of using our ports to facilitate trade with inland countries such as Tanzania. We need to focus on these advantages and not let the issue of the world economy distract us.

We must join forces and define an economic development model that meets our needs. What sectors should we invest in to develop the country? We need to create more jobs and formalize the informal economy, integrating more people into the productive and real economy.

It is crucial that we focus on our economy and unite to achieve these goals. Only in this way can we build a more prosperous and sustainable future for all Mozambicans.

PM: With regard to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Moza and the FDC for the implementation of an educational program called “Pra Frente” through which small and medium-sized national companies will benefit from training in entrepreneurship and management.
What is the strategy for ensuring that the criteria for selecting participants adequately meet the needs and diversity of small business owners in different regions of the country?

JF: The program is run online and offers packages of courses covering various areas. Our aim is to involve small business owners, micro-entrepreneurs, and offer them the opportunity to take part in these courses. They will learn basic concepts that will help them defend themselves better and prepare for running their businesses.

The protocol we have adopted involves identifying entrepreneurs, micro-entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs who will benefit from the program. We will bring them into the program and provide the necessary training so that they are better prepared for business life.

Participants are selected on the basis of various criteria. For the first group, we aim to cover various sectors of activity and representatives from all the country’s provinces. For the second group, we chose to focus exclusively on women entrepreneurs.

In the future, new criteria will be defined for selecting participants.

MP: What has been Moza Banco’s greatest gain for the economy over its 16 years of existence, and what are the main challenges the institution currently faces in its contribution to economic development?

JF: The biggest gain for the economy in these 16 years is the role Moza Banco plays as a lender and partner to its clients. Every day we build a relationship of understanding, seeking to understand their needs and offering products, instruments and services that really meet those demands. Our greatest ambition is to be inspired by our clients’ needs and to deliver products and services that meet those needs.

In our DNA, we are a relational bank, which means that we want to create a relationship with the client, understand them and, based on that, develop the right products and services.

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