Together we can change things

Bart Speelman, project manager at KBC, looks back with pleasure on his first assignment for BRS in 2017. Together with Eric Devos and Hugo Vleeracker from the BRS Institute, he gave workshops on marketing and product development in Dapaong (Togo).


Bart: “I came back with a very happy feeling. BRS does a really good job! I actually knew that already, because before I joined KBC in 2000, I was in Tanzania supporting local savings and credit cooperatives. They were supported by BRS and I appreciated how they started from what the people themselves are doing. As a KBC employee, I was very keen to volunteer for BRS.”


First assignment

Bart: “My first assignment took me to UCMECS, Union des Caisses Mutuelles d’Epargne et Crédit des Savanes, a group of eight savings and credit associations in the north of Togo. In order to gain new clients and retain existing ones, they put new products on the market. Since the launch of those products did not go very smoothly, we gave a number of workshops on marketing based on our experience at KBC.”

The pot and the cauldron

Bart: “First of all, together with the management, the directors and the credit specialists of the various associations, we made a survey of their marketing activities. A number of problems soon emerged. The presentation of their logo, for example. The cauldron they use as a logo symbolises the pot into which all the savings go and then come out again in the form of loans. In itself an appealing and well-chosen image. Now it turns out that some people see it as a magic cauldron that can make their money disappear. Not ideal of course if you want to gain new clients. The story behind the logo therefore needs to be communicated clearly and unambiguously.

In addition, this cauldron is presented first this way, then that way, like their slogan “Avec UCMECS grandissons en confiance” (Growing in confidence with UCMECS). This does not improve recognition. During the workshop, the UCMECS staff therefore decided to develop a permanent corporate identity. They also decided to seek advice from their clients on their needs and expectations. It doesn’t cost much and teaches them a lot in terms of marketing and product development.”


Bart: “I have also spoken to a number of clients myself. Djani Arzerissa, for example, who started as a market vendor in 2001 with a small credit of CFA 25,000. She has in the meantime become one of the leading traders on the market in Dapaong. And thanks to the cooperation between UCMECS and the local health insurance fund, the health care for her family is better than ever. A very inspiring story!”


Bart: “My commitment to BRS is closely connected with my old dream of working together with people in the South. Call it idealism. When you see how well we live here while people in the South have it much harder, I want to support them with our experience to improve their quality of life. This assignment gives me the feeling that together we can change things. And that makes me very happy!”