Advision Finance is a Netherlands-based firm providing advisory services to banks, microfinance institutions and social impact investors that focus on financial inclusion in emerging markets. We talked to Diana Cazacu, Founder and Managing Director of Advision Finance, to hear more about her company.
Having worked in more than 10 countries on three different continents, Diana has participated in setting up the operational framework of more than seven microfinance institutions and banks, and has completed more than 30 projects in the areas of operational efficiency, IT and agriculture finance. Diana started her career in the banking software industry and discovered microfinance 18 years ago, when she moved to Malawi to start a greenfield microfinance bank. “It was then when I understood that microfinance is not only banking, but it helps low-income individuals and entrepreneurs increasing their living standards”, she remarks. “I realised that I could use my skills in helping people in emerging markets getting better lives”, she adds.
After working and living for more than 13 years in emerging countries, Diana moved to the Netherlands, where she founded Advision Finance. “Our mission is to help financial institutions and investors have internal capabilities to quickly respond to the changing needs and requirements of customers, through the implementation of efficient processes and technology, and driving a continuous improvement culture”, she says, adding, “We are a consortium of bankers and microfinance specialists that provides solutions to financial institutions in line with their vision. If that vision is not clear or does not exist, we help organisations develop one that fits with their mission and aspirations, but also capabilities”. “That’s what our logo stands for”, she says, “add[ing] a vision to your business”, referring to the eye-like logo that incorporates the “A” “D” and “V” of the company’s name.
When asked about the challenges that Advision Finance faces in providing their operational efficiency services to financial institutions, Diana mentions the limited pressure from social impact investors on microfinance institutions to improve their operational efficiency. Growing or larger organisations can operate with many inefficiencies, which are masked by high income due to volumes and high interest rates. These inefficiencies lead to organisational collapse and loss of customers when the markets become difficult or growth stagnates. “You would say that this is good for our business, as organisations need our expertise in ‘fixing’ the inefficiencies. We would like to see more organisations use our services to prevent the negative effects of inefficient operations rather that react to already escalated problems,” Diana says.
Another challenge in Advision Finance’s work is convincing financial institutions and shareholders of the necessity of a strong operational foundation before implementing technology. Here, she says, “technology does not solve all organisational issues”, and that companies need, “an effective operating model, efficient processes and a dynamic and improvement-oriented culture in order for technology to provide maximum benefits.”
by Asli Seven, Research Analyst