Understanding Neighbourhood Banking Systems in Liberia

My name is Babangida Shittu and I work for Cellulant as a Service Delivery Manager and NBS Activation Manager. NBS is short for Neighbourhood Banking System which is an ecosystem of kiosks in local areas that provide financial inclusion services to the community including payments, collections, savings and loans. Each kiosk provides employment opportunities for at last one person and a source of livelihood for all users and the community at large. As activation manager, my role is to ensure that all the kiosks are up and running in the shortest time possible and delivering the right solution, to the right person, the right way every time. As a service delivery manager I go out into the rural areas and ensure that the field workers in my area are adequately informed and equipped to support the farmers on our agricultural value and that the farmers understand the services we offer. I have been with Cellulant for three years and one of my projects was working on the Liberia Agricultural Transformation Agenda. Finding out I would be assigned to Liberia was one of the best days of my life. I was so excited for the opportunity to move to a new country, new community, learn about a new way of life and really serve people at the grassroots level. The biggest challenge in this job that I’ve come to love so much, is the poor road network, especially during wet weather. This is why being able to serve the communities, even under the tough conditions makes it worth all the while. Working in Liberia is all about GRIT. What is grit? It is the perseverance to deliver a goal against all, and I mean ALL, odds. It means getting the job done no matter what is thrown at you or where you find yourself. My job means I am on the road often taking financial services to people in rural communities, training our staff in the field, overseeing the setup and operations of the NBS kiosks and ensuring uniform service. I remember one such trip where we were delivering equipment and training our staff in various counties, during the rainy season and the roads were so bad we got stuck very often. While we had to push the car out of the mud so many times, there were days, we simply spent the night on the road to try again in the morning. The stains on our clothes and the fatigue in our bodies, were a testament to the grit required to serve Cellulants Liberia’s rural clients and partners. Many people ask why I would work such a demanding job but it is really simple for me. All I ever wanted was an opportunity to impact people’s lives positively and my job allows me to do that on a daily basis as it also enables me to meet different kind of people of diferent backgrounds, have open honest conversations, find out what they want from life and help them meet that goal. It also allows me to work with diverse people towards a common goal making it important to always make myself understood. When I look back to who I was when I started at Cellulant and who I am today, I am glad for the opportunity to work with Cellulant. It has taught me the beauty and importance of believing. There are endless possibilities and solutions when we believe. I have come to believe that it is indeed possible to change whole communities in less than three years by providing what they need and thinking ahead to what they might need in the future and prepare for that. I have changed my belief that it is hard to succeed in Africa without bribing because I have seen how we do not bribe and still get work done. I have learnt how believing the impossible is possible and working towards each goal makes it possible. I am determined that I will live a meaningful life that influences and changes the world I live in. A meaningful life is one that has significance in the lives of others. It takes a certain kind of personality to work with Cellulant and daily I am becoming that person.

Babangida Shittu – Cellulant Liberia