Measures the Company has taken to sustain its desired culture

A positive corporate culture helps to attract and retain employees. When employees thrive, the Company thrives. The Group’s leadership team has been working alongside the co-founders since the inception of ASA International. They promote desired practices through their day-to-day actions, which are an example for the rest of the team. The following measures are taken to sustain the Company’s desired culture:

The culture questionnaire is part of the Employee Satisfaction Survey, which is executed every two years. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 on the operations in the countries, it was not executed in 2020.

The Company deploys a recruitment process, focusing on hiring young college graduates interested in working with low-income communities. These recruits are generally from rural or semi-urban backgrounds. Training is primarily on-the-job. In 2020, 3,009 new employees underwent the introductory practical training, which is usually no longer than 12 days. In this training, they learn the Company’s long heritage in the microfinance industry, its core values, code of conduct, HR policies and processes. This training is followed by continuous on-the-job training from colleagues, and regular in-branch mentoring and coaching from more experienced senior staff members, such as regional and district managers. This facilitates the training of large numbers of new loan officers to support expansion.

Promotion is offered to those who have successfully incorporated the core principles of the ASA Model and have demonstrated their leadership skills in the field. There is a preference to promote those that have joined the Company as their first job and have successfully climbed through the ranks. The Company believes there is true strength in promoting their own staff which allows the next generation to obtain a better position within the Company. This not only supports the successful growth of the Company but also offers a real incentive to employees, which ultimately strengthens the capacity of the Company to expand.

All staff are encouraged to offer suggestions and ideas, provide or solicit feedback, seek personal or professional counsel, or address concerns within the Company, the latter without fear of reprisal. In order to raise any work-related concerns or complaints, the Company established the Grievance Mitigation Committee (‘GMC’).

All staff are encouraged to report any activity that may constitute a violation of laws, regulations or Company policy to the senior management at the country head offices and the branch managers. Examples of staff concerns are improper or unethical business practices, health, safety and environmental issues or violations of their code of conduct. Staff are free to communicate their concerns to the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee locally, as well as at Group level.

The Company aspires to be an inclusive and gender diverse organisation. In 2020, the Company had an overall 33% female representation, broken down in East Africa: 50%, West Africa: 40%, East Asia: 46% and South Asia: 12%. Due to cultural reasons in South Asia, hiring women still appears to be challenging, which has a negative impact on the Group’s overall gender representation. The female representation at the senior leadership level is 17%. 

Considering the branches of the Group’s microfinance institutions are very much part of the communities in which it is located, and as part of its commitment to social welfare, the Group’s microfinance institutions execute social impact activities in the communities. The origination of these projects lies with the field staff at the community branch level, and the projects themselves are highly regarded by staff, clients and the wider community. The final selection of these projects is made at the head offices of the microfinance institutions in the respective countries.