By Justin Mkweu
About ten senior managers and several junior staff have resigned in a short period at Malawi’s biggest microfinance company, Finca, due to alleged employees’ abuse by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dru Jayaratne, The Sunday Times can reveal.
However, both Jayaratne and the Finca Malawi Board have dismissed the allegations, saying there has been no record of anyone being abused at the institution.
Our investigations have revealed that those who have resigned while some are serving their notices are Chief Finance Officer Victoria Kalua, Head of Internal Audit Chrissie Nangani and Head of ICT Barle Makumba.
Others are Head of Marketing Violet Mangani, Head of Human Resource Charles Ngulube, Legal Manager Clara Khaki, IT Audit Manager Boaz Valani, Compliance Manager Moliq Mlava, and Head of Channels and Digital Daniel Makata.
Two sources who did not want to be named have confirmed the resignations, adding that they expect more resignations if Jayaratne is maintained on the position.
The first source told us that on several occasions, when an employee’s phone rang in the presence of the CEO, he would yell at the employee and told them to switch off the phone.
Another source corroborated the narrative in a separate interview, saying he just had to resign because he is a professional with extensive experience and that the CEO, a foreign national, does not have any respect for local employees.
“I do not see the business doing well and I can foresee retrenchments as the business cannot sustain the cost levels because it has been going down since he [Jayaratne] came,” the source said.
When contacted, Jayaratne denied everything, in a written response, and described the resignations as not something that can be described as mass exodus.
He said the staff turnover rate has been declining and it is currently at its lowest.
He added that he has utmost respect for all staff and that he has a long track record of working productively and respectfully with colleagues at all levels.
“The allegations are not true. Finca has robust policies in place for independent investigation of allegations and no allegations have been reported to Finca management or the Finca Malawi Board of Directors or the independent ethics hotline set up to record staff concerns,” Jayaratne said.
He further insisted that he maintains an open door policy and that he is proud of the success his team has brought to Finca Malawi and the dedication shown to provide impactful banking services to their customers.
“Finca Malawi is a leading microfinance institution with a strong performance and balance sheets. We are proud of our track record of building the financial health of Malawians and helping them improve their lives,” he added.
The Finca Malawi Board also rejected claims that employees were leaving due to abuse by their boss.
Chairperson Teresa Munlo said the institution has robust standards in place to investigate any complaints brought against the institution’s management, including an independent ethics hotline where complaints can be made anonymously.
Munlo added that the board has not received any employee allegations of misconduct by any senior manager, either directly or through the independent ethics hotline and that the company.
“Overwhelmingly, employee exit interviews demonstrate that those who have left voluntarily have done so to advance in their careers and for more compensation. Finca Malawi is proud to give its employees the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, both at Finca and beyond Finca, and wish them well when they pursue other opportunities,” she said.
Jayaratne, from Sri Lanka, joined the microfinance company in March 2020 after emerging top in a recruitment process which the company conducted.
According to the company’s website, Jayaratne is a chartered accountant and seasoned professional with wealth of knowledge having worked over 20 years gaining experience of leadership roles in finance, risk management, assurance and operations in several countries.
Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) said companies need to have a robust complaints committee where people can freely voice out their concerns when they are grieved by anyone.
The association’s president George Khaki said in a case where the person accused of wrongdoing is senior, such as a CEO, the committee should be of people who are above that officer.
“In an organisation where you see that there are a lot of employees leaving, the board should notice and do something because those are some of the metrics that we use in human resource management.
“For senior management, it should be the board that should sense that maybe something is wrong and it should do something; otherwise, productivity and profitability of an organisation are affected,” Khaki said.
Finca Malawi started with a single branch in Chiradzulu in 1994 and has now grown up to 24 service locations across Malawi with a clientele of more than 70,000 people.
The institution currently offers loans to both credit groups and individuals in addition to savings products.
According to the company’s website Finca Malawi is part of the global Finca Impact Finance network which serves over 1.8 million clients in 20 countries.