THE EFFECT OF COMPUTERISED ACCOUNTING ON THE PERFORMANCE OF MICRO FINANCE INSTITUTIONS
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Microfinance institutions are crucial players in the development of the financial sector in Buea. Microfinance institutions tend to cater to the unbanked population while MFIs serve a more significant number of clients. Assessing the effects of computerized accounting on the performance of MFIs offers insights into the development level of Buea’s financial industry. This study aims at examining the effects of computerized accounting on the performance of MFIs in Buea. It examines how microfinance and computerized accounting systems have been able to reach and support small businesses in the area. The research also analyzes the relationship between microfinance institutions and how their respective products and services have complemented or competed with each other. The study finds that computerized accounting systems have positively affected the performance of MFIs in Buea. Microfinance institutions have helped to reach out to the population who previously had no access to bank loans. The CAs effects of microfinance units have improved the financial ecosystem, leading to economic growth in Buea. In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that computerized accounting systems has played a vital role in the performance of MFIs in Buea. The study recommends that policymakers and stakeholders should encourage collaboration between the computerized accounting system and microfinance institutions to match the needs of the local population.
The advancements in information technology have eventually led to the introduction of computerized accounting systems in displacement of manual accounting system in corporate reporting to help produce relevant and faithful representative financial reports for both management and external users for decision making Greuning (2006) The advent of Technologies across the globe has altered the norms of the game and expectations of the new mode of economics activities. The norms of inter and transnational trading changed dramatically to admit the increasing number of financial transactions and trade-related activities that take place via the Internet and technologically assisted tools Sam, Hoshino and Tashir (2012).
Yinus&Oladejo,( 2014) Observed that the basic indicator of modern day development in any society is the level of technological advancement and how it has contributed to Economy growth of a country. Hence, from the aforementioned statement, one is able to identify how significant computerized accounting system is to the performance of Microfinance institutions. The many advantages from the use of these systems have led many to conclude that Computerized Accounting Systems in corporate reporting is the engine of performance in Microfinance Institutions. This was evidence with numerous advantages of computerized accounting over manual accounting system.
Furthermore, with the new and rapid financial information, new updates and changes will be available for others in making decisions; these reliable decisions will in effect increase the performance of Microfinance Institutions and thus leading to their performance.
To survive, Microfinance Institutions need updated, accurate and timely accounting information Lohman (2000) Amidu and Abor (2005) Accounting systems are responsible for analyzing and monitoring the financial condition of firms, preparation of documents necessary for tax purposes, providing information to support business purposes. Without such a system it will be very difficult for Microfinance Institutions to determine performance, identify customer/member and supplier account balances and forecast future performance of the organization/institution. The primary purpose of an Accounting Information System (AI) is the collection and recording of data and information regarding events that have an economic impact upon organizations and the maintenance, processing and communication of such information to internal and external stakeholders Stefanou (2006). In modern theories of growth and operational performance technology innovation has taken the Centre stage through the introduction of PC-based Accounting Systems, both the computer hardware and the accounting software creating an opportunity for Microfinance Institutions to adopt computerized accounting system. These Computerized Accounting System include “Quick Books” and “le Sage” for big organizations and “Alpha” for MFIs mostly Credit Unions which is the focus of this study.
Accounting was also defined as the collection and recording of financial data about an organization whether in the private or in the public sector and analyzing the data so collected to suit the decision that needs to be taken and reporting the relevant information in a summary form to the user in a form that is meaningful to him or her.
The concept of microfinance dates back before the 19th century where money lenders were unofficially carrying out the role of now formal financial institutions. The unofficial financial institutions comprised of: village banks, rotating saving groups and social venture capital funds to help the poor. These institutions were those that provided savings and credit services for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and most especially to the poor. They mobilized rural savings and had simple and straight forward procedures that originated from local cultures and were easily understood by the population says Germidis, (1991). The creation of the Grameen bank in Bangladesh by Muhamadou Yunus because of high capacity of the innovation of the informal sector contributed to the growth of microfinance in the world.
The CEMAC regulation defines Microfinance as an activity carried out by an institution that do not have the status of banks or financial institutions as defined in the appendix in the convention of 1992 (17th January) to harmonize and regulate the banking activities in the Central African State, and which carry out on a regular basis, loan operations and/or savings collections and offers specific financial services to population who mainly operate outside the traditional banking channel.
(Robinson, 2001) in his work titled; “The Microfinance Revolution” defines microfinance as small-scale financial services offered to people into small business in both rural and urban societies. He went further to point that the goal of microfinance institutions is to improve living standards or get rid of poverty through the provision of small business financing and consumer credit or bring financial services to poor and vulnerable people in the society
In Cameroon, the first micro finance institution was created in 1963 at Niinikom in the Northwest Region of Cameroon by a Roman Catholic priest; Anthony Jansen, a priest from Holland. The relative success of noticed in this industry lead to the creation of CamCCUL in 1968 by 34 credit unions that were already in existence Zengue,( 2006).
From the main purpose of Microfinance Institutions which is to provide financial and non-financial services to the poor and those excluded from the traditional banking system, we see that there is a need for computerized accounting system to help the Microfinance institutions ameliorate the provision of these services to the targeted group. Despite the main aim of MFI to provide the aforementioned services, they also need to engage in activities that will generate income to ensure sustainability
Also based on Microfinance Institutions, little has been done to fine out the effect of these CAS on their performance to help achieve their goal of poverty alleviation. Though government policies have been put in place to favor the existence and performance of these Microfinance Institutions like the New Deal Policy by President Paul Biya. This policy was strengthening further by the 1990 law No 90/053 of 19th December 1990 liberalizing associations and law No 92/006 of 14 August 1992 relating to Cooperatives and Common Initiative Groups (CIGs). Given that Microfinance Institutions have many types (NGOs, Cooperatives, self-owned organizations, formal and informal financial institutions, regulated microfinance institutions), Credit Unions which is incorporated in one or more of the types mentioned above has been a great but silent player in our country. In this section therefore, the works of other researchers will be consulted, read and reviewed to gain inspiration as we present the effects of CAS on the performance of MFIs with interest focused on Credit Unions
For Microfinance Institutions to survive in the provision of their services, they need to be conversant with accurate and timely accounting information. Accounting information is used to measure and communicate financial information of business to make proper decision, planning, controlling, and coordinating activities of the business and for the end users of the accounting information. Because of the progressive growth of information technologies, the Manual Accounting Systems have become gradually inadequate for decision needs. Thus, public and private sector firms in both developing and developed economies view Computerized Accounting Information System (CAIS) as an important tool to ensure effective and efficient information flow in the recording, processing, and analysis of financial data. Effective and efficient information flow enhances managerial decision-making, thereby increasing the firm’s ability to achieve corporate and business strategy objectives.
In advanced countries, the management of Financial Management Information System (FIS) requires considerable management skills that of course they possess. This is not the case with developing countries Cameroon not being and exception. Most often than not, top managers in most MFIs are not computer literate and the staff as well. Many MFIs do not have qualified accountants and have problems preparing accurate and timely financial reports, which is one of their major requirements.
This is attributed to; the poor educational systems of most of the Cameroonian schools that neglect practical/technical education to general, which deals mostly with theory, this probably because of the high cost, involved in investing in technical education. The few that exist are too expensive that eliminate youngest people who could be determined to learn more on CAIS. Also, the already existing workers in most MFIs find it as a difficult task to switch from the manual system to computerized system because of the time and cost involved in learning how to use the updated systems. In some cases, some MFls do not have enough capital to possess the software and hardware needed to management of FMIS. This study is aims at studying how the implementation of these CAIS can increase the quality of financial statements and performance thus leading to the growth or great performance of MFIs, as a result seek to answer the following questions
What are the effects of Computerized Accounting Systems (CAS) on the Performance of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Buea ?
- How has data , report , hardware and software influence the performance of Microfinance Institutions?
- How has Computerized Accounting Systems influence the increase in the Gross Profit Margin of this Microfinance Institutions ?
- What benefits of computerized Accounting systems havemade increase changes in the performance of Microfinance Institutions ?