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 Company focuses on hiring young college graduates interested in working with low-income communities. These recruits are generally from rural or semi-urban backgrounds. In 2022, a total of 3,914 colleagues were recruited in the operating subsidiaries across the Group. Some subsidiaries still have less recruits than usual due to economic and/or political challenges in the country and due to a reduced drop-out rate. However, most of them have recruited more than the previous years as a result of expansion. 

Training of employees and new recruits is primarily on-the-job. In 2022, 8,750 employees underwent the 12- day Pre-Service Orientation (‘PSO’) training. During PSO, the Company’s heritage, mission, core values, Code of Conduct, HR policies and financial processes, amongst others, are taught. This training is followed by continuous on-the-job training from colleagues, and regular in-branch mentoring and coaching from experienced senior staff members, such as regional and district managers. Training remains an important element as employees progress into senior roles. Training can include anti-money laundering, diversity and inclusion, skill development, crisis management and role-specific training. In 2022, 13,066 training attendees and 61,312 hours of training were recorded. 

Promotion in the operating subsidiaries is offered to those who have incorporated the core principles of the ASA Model and have demonstrated leadership. Supporting our colleagues There is a preference to promote those that have joined the Company as their first job and have successfully climbed through the ranks. This not only supports the successful growth of the Company but also offers a material incentive to employees, which ultimately strengthens the capacity of the Company to expand. With a staff retention rate of 76%, the turnover is considered low and many employees remain and grow within the Company. In 2022, 1,661 promotions were recorded across the Group, with the promotion of loan officer to assistant branch manager accounting for half of the total number of promotions.

Employees are encouraged to report any activity that may constitute a violation of laws, regulations or Company policy via a complaint box or to the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee locally. Examples of concerns are improper or unethical business practices, health, safety and environmental issues or violations of the Code of Conduct. This year, two whistleblowing incidents were reported at two of the operating subsidiaries and appropriate action was taken, post investigation conducted by Internal Audit. In December 2022, training sessions were conducted and posters continue to be disbursed across the Group to raise awareness on this topic.

The Company aspires to be an inclusive and diverse organisation. As a global company, active in 15 countries, the Company celebrates its culturally diverse workforce. In terms of gender, in 2022, the operating subsidiaries represented 34.8% of the Group’s overall female representation, broken down in East Africa: 12.2%, West Africa: 9.3%, East Asia: 9.1% and South Asia: 4.3%. Due to cultural reasons in South Asia and safety issues related to travelling alone, hiring women still appears to be a challenge in this region, which impacts the Group’s overall gender representation. The female representation at the senior leadership level at subsidiary level is 24%. In terms of age, 53% of the Company’s employees are under 30 years old and 1% over 50. To improve gender representation in the Company, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (‘DEI’) committee has been formed, a DEI policy is being drafted, and targets for 2023 are being finalized. 

The branches of the operating subsidiaries, being an integral part of the communities in which they operate, undertake social impact initiatives to fulfil their commitment to social welfare. The initiative of these projects predominantly lies with the field staff at the branch level, as they maintain regular contact with clients and the community and understand their needs. To fund these activities, the Company’s subsidiaries allocate a percentage of their profits, typically between 0.5% and 1%, except in countries such as India, where regulations stipulate a higher percentage of 2%. The projects are highly regarded by colleagues, clients and the wider community, and focus on improving health, education, or providing relief efforts.